Johnnette taught the Benedicta Leadership Institute to her leaders, regional team members, facilitators, and many women coming for the first time to one of her events. Entering the Family Life Center each participant was gifted with a framed picture of St. Joan of Arc with this exhortation printed on it, "Be Magnanimous! Know the Mission. Live the Mission. Become the Mission." Magnanimity is defined as "great-souled" also as generous, courageous, and forgiving.
St. Joan of Arc's mission was the common thread throughout the weekend and we even watched EWTN's DVD of her life. We followed that viewing with round table discussion of her mission. She is certainly a saint for such a time as this that we are living in now. The theme of the Institute was "Leading Like THE Lady" which, of course, is Our Blessed Mother.
The Benedicta Institute teaches the building blocks of Catholic women's leadership. We discussed Catholic Saints who have been leaders for women. Johnnette defines the Catholic woman leader as "a daughter of the Church who seeks to use the gifts, talents and feminine genius to bring Jesus to the world and the world to Jesus Christ as exemplified by the Blessed Virgin Mary's magnanimity of soul, servant's heart, and conformity to the will of God." How are Catholic women to accomplish their providential role as spiritual mothers (with Mary) of the human race? The answer is simply, like Mary. She stressed how we can become "mini Mary's" in living out our lives.
The two pillar virtues we need are humility and magnanimity. We discussed how to grow in the virtues. Johnnette describes Women of Grace's mission in light of a godly view of the future, and it serves as a rudder that guides and directs their mission in its decision making process, outreach and activity. It presupposes an essential desire to be in conformity to God's will in all things. Magnificat women formed the prayer teams for an evening session after Fr. Philip Scott, F.J., anointed everyone present. The women then came to the prayer teams for prayer to stir up the gifts of the Spirit. Fr. Philip's homilies at each Mass were anointed and extremely inspirational.
Following the Benedicta Institute was the Women of Grace National Conference: The theme was "Woman's Influence, Effect, and Power: Reclaiming the Feminine Ideal." Presenters included Johnnette Benkovic, Dr. Monica Miller, a pro-life advocate since 1971, who spoke on the role of women in the modern world. Paul Thigpen PhD., who has written 45 books and spoke on Mary: the Ideal of Feminine Power, the truth of who we are will be measured against Mary. Also, Fr. Philip Scott, F.J. gave one presentation on Our Lady and also afforded every woman the opportunity for confession during the weekend. The Conference included a Spiritual Warfare Panel with 4 presenters and then was followed up with questions from the audience for clarification. Each session started with 30 minutes of Praise and Worship led by Living Praise Worship Team. Susan Potvin, the leader, also gave a talk on "Embracing Our Heritage of Hebrew Worship" and explained the terminology of Hebrew Worship which we actually use today to change the atmosphere during our praise and worship time.
I came away grace-filled, deeply inspired and very thankful to have been able to receive amazing grace from such a powerful weekend. I made many new friends who became sisters in the Lord. What a blessing!
Several Members of the Magnficat Central Service Team were recently featured on the Women of Grace television program. To watch part one of the series, click here.