This year’s Idaho Catholic Women’s Conference, held at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Nampa, exceeded attendance expectations. (Photo ICR/ Vero Gutiérrez )
By Emily Woodham
BOISE – “Everlasting Love” was the theme of this year’s Idaho Catholic Women’s Conference at St. Paul’s Parish in Nampa. Almost 480 attended in person, and more than 290 women participated in the conference online, with 13 watch parties averaging 20 women. It was by far the largest conference in the ten years since its inception.
“All three speakers were very complimentary of our conference and the women in attendance,” said Carol Brown, director of Marketing and Community Relations at Salt & Light Radio.
Bishop Peter Christensen of the Diocese of Boise celebrated Mass at the conference’s opening. “When a person knows they’re loved, they can bear almost anything,” Bishop Peter said in his homily. He further explained the foundation of each person’s knowledge of love comes from their first encounters with his or her mother. Just as an infant awakens to the relationship of love between herself and her mother, a similar awakening happens to a person at baptism.
A participant at the 2023 Idaho Catholic Women’s Conference in a moment of personal prayer. (ICR photo /Vero Gutiérrez)
“I think our priests would agree that when you baptize a child, there’s a different look in the child’s eyes. You can look in the eyes and see eternity. It’s a glorious moment, even if the child is crying. That life changes, and the gift of faith is given. It gives the ability to recognize there is a God who created us and cares for us, a God who loves us deeply and will do so for all eternity,” he said.
Reflecting on Jeremiah 31:3, in which God says to Israel through the prophet, “With age-old love, I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you,” Bishop Peter asked the assembly to consider God’s great love for each of them.
“Can you hear, my sisters, these words spoken to you by God? You, my beloved daughter, in you, I am well pleased. I am so pleased with you.” Although we can give reasons why God shouldn’t be pleased with us, “God still cares for us and is pleased with us,” he said.
Bishop Peter Christensen celebrates the opening Mass with Eternal World Television Chaplain Father Joseph Mary and Father Goodluck Ajaero, SMMM, Parochial Vicar of Saint Paul’s in Nampa. (ICR photo /Vero Gutiérrez)
“Every act of true selfless love we receive and give bears fruit because love is of inestimable value. Love builds a solid foundation, giving us confidence to live the life we’re called to live. That confidence is set strong in the Lord through baptism.”
“How we live our lives, especially a life of faith, can make a difference in the way we see the world. In faith, we can see with gratitude and that we are blessed,” he said. “You are loved. You are not alone. God is walking with you. He’ll be with you through thick and thin. He loves you with an age-old love, and his mercy is everlasting.”
This year’s keynote speakers were Emily Wilson, Sister Faustina Maria of the Sisters of the Children of Mary, and Father Joseph Mary of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal World (MFVA).
Emily Wilson, speaker, author and worship leader, encouraged women to slow down in their busy schedules and become aware of God’s love for them and the “bouquets” of gifts He gives them daily. The key to this, she said, is vulnerability. Women often resist vulnerability because others have abused their openness and hurt them.
“The Lord never uses our vulnerability against us,” Wilson said. “His heart is always a safe, sacred place for our vulnerable selves.”
She said that being blessed by God, who loves us, is deeper than what we possess or do. God’s blessings complement our identity as God’s beloved. “He says, ‘You are my beloved. My everlasting love is for you personally.’ God is blessing you throughout your life, showering you with love, with beauty and speaking the truth of who you are every single day. The question for you is: Are you paying attention?” said Wilson, explaining that we often keep our lives too full for God. We become so busy we don’t take time to pray or to be present in the moment to hear Him speaking to our hearts.
Everyday, we need to choose. We can choose to listen to God’s voice and how He loves us, or we can listen to the voices of negativity from our past or our misconceptions, explained Wilson. Through prayer, the Lord wants to take us back to the moments when our hearts were wounded so He can heal us. “The Lord wants to come into those hurt places and heal us so we can live our life in His everlasting love. It’s a desire of His that we should live most fully alive. In this healing, we can claim our blessedness, our
Sister Faustina Maria emphasized how the Eucharist is a gift of Jesus’ love united to His Crucifixion. In Holy Communion, He is fully present with us as our Savior and Healer, she said, and we cannot love and live as Christians without Him.
“We have Adoration, time in intimacy of love with the Beloved. And then we have Mass and Communion in which we live with the Beloved, letting the Beloved live through us. As members of His body, we are all called to be another Christ to the world,” Sister Faustina said.
Father Joseph Mary, Eternal Word Television Network chaplain, described three types of miracles arising from the Blessed Sacrament: intellectual, moral and physical.
In intellectual miracles, he explained, a person experiences a change of mind, in which they have a pro-found realization of God’s existence and His truth. Moral miracles are a miraculous strengthening of a person to live a genuine Christian life. Physical miracles are bodily healings.
These miracles are seen throughout Church history, especially in the lives of the saints, and are tied to receiving or adoring the Eucharist. “Life can become overwhelming at times,” Father Joseph Mary said. “So just go before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. He’ll give us light, the lamp with light enough for the next step. Maybe we’re not going to see a whole solution in the future, but we’re going to see the next step, the next positive thing to do. We’ll have a new hope in our heart that comes alive.”
Diana Tetreault, general manager for Salt & Light Radio, said the radio station makes no profit from the conference and hopes at least to break even. However, the conferences are worth presenting, she added, because they are a part of the apostolic mission of the radio station to evangelize and teach.
Next year’s conference is Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Boise Centre and online. “We are celebrating Year Three of the Eucharistic Revival, of being missionary and going out,” Carol Brown said. “We will start with Mass at the Cathedral and process to the Boise Centre. For those with limited mobility, we will have shuttles.”
Registration for the 2024 conference opens on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Tuesday, July 16.
Because of the success of the Idaho men’s and women’s conferences, they are adding two more events for Sal y Luz Radio: a men’s Hispanic conference in October and a women’s Hispanic conference in January.
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