October, it’s a simply lovely month. It’s a time when we think about changing weather, leaves turning colors, a sigh for the end of summer, and a crispness in the air that renews and enlivens us. It is also the month of Mary. She is especially honored as Our Lady of the Rosary, and October is dedicated to her under this title.
You have almost certainly heard this is the 100th anniversary year of Our Blessed Mother’s apparitions to the three shepherd children at Fatima. A diocesan conference for women is being held just one day after the anniversary of the final apparition, at which occurred “The Miracle of the Sun.”
Why did Mary come to Fatima? She came as she always does, to point us toward the healing, merciful love of her Son, Jesus Christ. She came to bring us to establish devotion to her Immaculate Heart so that she might lead us to His Sacred Heart. She came to call us to pray for and do penance for the conversion of sinners. She came as our mother and as our teacher, ultimately, to point the way to Heaven…to point the way for us, our children, our spouses, our parents, our brothers and sisters, and all our loved ones.
In keeping with this landmark year, the theme this year for the 3rd annual Diocese of Harrisburg Women’s Conference is: “Lead All Souls to Heaven” – Mary’s Message to Us from Fatima.” Our Lady called us from Fatima to be people of the Rosary, people of the Eucharist and people of sacrifice. She calls us all to a life of holiness and penance, winning souls for her Son.
At the first conference in 2015, 700 women attended. In 2016, more than 800 came. What have some of these women been saying? Here are just some of the comments that attendees had from past conferences:
“I needed this time so much!”
“The fellowship was wonderful.”
“Adoration and Mass with my Sisters in Christ was uplifting.”
“The speakers were great. I learned so much.”
“It was inspiring to hear the voices of so many women raised in song and praise to our Lord.”
“This conference helped me.”
“Wow! I needed this so much. I can’t wait for next year’s conference.”
“I’m going to tell my friends they have to come to this conference.”
If you have not signed up for this year’s Women’s Conference, here are a few reasons to come:
Great Keynote Speaker – Our Keynoter, Susan Brinkmann, is a national speaker, author and an award-winning journalist. She will be telling us about her own compelling conversion story and Our Lady of Fatima’s call to conversion, or on-going conversion, to each of us, our families, and the world. Some of her books include, “We Need to Talk: God Speaks to a Modern Girl,” “The Kinsey Corruption,” “Lord Teach Us to Pray” and “Is It Christian or New Age?” Susan works closely with Johnette Benkovic and is the staff journalist for Women of Grace and a frequent guest on the EWTN program “Women of Grace.” You will enjoy Susan’s message and her very natural, approachable style and personality.
The Workshops – There are 36 total workshops over three sessions. We have some of your favorite speakers from the past, plus many new speakers, and lots of interesting offerings. What follows is a sampling of workshop titles:
“How Women Can Help Their Children and Grandchildren Find Their Way Back to the Catholic Faith,” “Women Balancing Faith, Family, and Work,” “Look at me! Narcissism and Beyond” (Sister Sheila Galligan, IHM), “When the Answer is ‘No:’ Finding Christ in Infertility,” “Catholic Apologetics,” “Discovering Your Feminine Genius,” “The Importance of Trust in the Life of a Christian,” “Marian Saints in Your Own Life,” “History & Mission of the Council of Catholic Women,” “Our Lady of Fatima’s Call to Prayer and Penance,” “The Church is Counter-Cultural: Gender, Homosexuality, Contraception, & Sterilization,” “Mercy in the Mess: Raising Catholic Families,” “There is Nothing That Cannot be Forgiven,” “Our Lady of Guadalupe: Patroness of Life” (In English and Spanish), “True Faith and Science Cannot Contradict,” “Feed the Soul and Spark the Mind: Great Catholic Books,” “Life in the Spirit,” “The Eucharist and the Early Church,” “Finding Joy: Lessons from the Family Meal,” “Prayer for the Busy Woman,” “The Rosary’s Joyful Mysteries,” Finding God Amidst the Pain of Divorce,” “Byzantine Catholic Spirituality” and many, many more!
Confession – Fresh start anyone? Some 20 to 30 priests will be on hand this day to hear Confessions so that we can be bathed in the mercy of the living God and cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb!
Hundreds of Women Joined in Worship and Praise before Our Eucharistic Lord Jesus. We will also pray the 5 Joyful Mysteries together. Imagine the buckets of grace that will be poured out on those attending. Tantum Ergo, anyone?
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Celebrated by Bishop Gainer – The Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, the word of God proclaimed and preached, worshiping with women from all over the diocese, all with our Chief Shepherd as Principal Celebrant and Homilist. What more could we want? What a great culmination to our day!
Delicious Food for Breakfast and Lunch – food and the faith: a perfect union!
Amazing Items for Sale to nurture and adorn your Catholic faith, from books to jewelry and more!
Wonderful Apostolates with their Displays and members eager to explain their mission!
Ladies! Mark this day on your calendars and come with your friends! It will be a day to receive, reflect and rejoice, and be strengthened as women to live lives of joy and grace!
(Eva Gontis is a homemaker and the mother of eight children. She is the wife of Jim Gontis, Director of the Diocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis. A member of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Harrisburg, Eva holds bachelors degrees in English Literature and Classical Civilizations from U.C. Irvine, and a Masters Degree in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville.)
By Eva Gontis, Special to The Witness