450 women gathered at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Indialantic, FL the weekend of September 23-25 for the Women of Grace 11th National Conference. It was a time of prayer, healing, hope, and inspiration. The Conference theme was “Healed for Holiness: Mending the Wounds of the Heart.” Johnnette Benkovic (president and founder), Father Edmund Sylvia, C.S.C. (chaplain and theological adviser), Father Philip Scott, F.J. (conference speaker), and Mary Jo Anderson (Catholic journalist and commentator) gave poignant talks and testimonies concerning the transformative power of God the Father’s love, the gift of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s spiritual beatitude, and today’s culture’s urgent need for the feminine genius to be lived and expressedin families, institutions, and the public square.
Brenda Dooley of Lafayette, LA summed up her conference experience by stating, “In a profound and spiritual revelation I realized that God heals the child in me in order to mature my womanhood/motherhood and in turn how He can touch a small insignificant life like mine and use it to heal the world beginning with one person, one family, one community, one country.”
Women in attendance represented three continents (North America, Africa, and Europe) and four countries (the US, Canada, Ghana, and Ireland) and, though geographically diverse, all of the women were united in the common bond to imitate Our Lady by giving their “fiat” to God’s will for them.
“This conference has changed my way of thinking and feeling about a lot of things. It has inspired me to be a better mother, wife, sister…to be a woman of Grace!” said Monica Gonzalez of Florida.
The conference was preceded by the Benedicta Leadership Institute for Women conducted by Johnnette Benkovic. A maximum group of 80 women attended the Institute. The theme was “The Building Blocks of Catholic Women’s Leadership.” Based on the virtues, attributes and guiding influence of the Blessed Virgin Mary, this foundational offering of the Institute helps women find a truly Catholic response to the issues, circumstances, and challenges they face in today’s world both personally and corporately. The Institute’s dynamic utilizes a variety of modes of communication. Part lecture, part discussion, part workshop, and part participant presentation, women attendees discover a Catholic lens through which to view the gift of their authentic femininity and the influece it can have to “aid humanity in not falling.”
And the effect is contagious. Women of Grace co-facilitator. Michaelyn Hein of the Diocese of Metuchen, received a dose of holy zeal from her mother’s attendance at the Benedicta Leadership Institute. She comments in GracePlace, “My mom just came home from the leadership institute in Florida so invigorated and inspired, and I’m getting fed again off her enthusiasm and passion. It’s exciting me for the kickoff of another year’s Full of Grace study in our parish as I help her facilitate.”
The first nine regional coordinators of Women of Grace were installed at the Conference’s opening liturgy. A tenth regional coordinator was installed the following weekend in Buffalo, Wyoming. The Women of Grace movement is growing and expanding throughout the United States and beyond.
For more information about the Conference including pictures taken by conference attendees, go to GracePlace and log-in.