Women renewed, challenged on North Side

SAN ANTONIO – Women from all over San Antonio’s north side and beyond gathered for Pilgrim Center of Hope’s “Come to Me” Catholic Women’s Conference on April 12 & 13, 2019 at St. Mark the Evangelist Church’s Event Center.

This was the first of two smaller conferences—rather than one large conference—in 2019. (Another conference will take place on San Antonio’s south side, September 20 & 21, 2019 at St. Margaret Mary Church.) It marked the first time CWC has been held at the venue, and was Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller’s first time visiting the Event Center; which previously had been a Protestant church.

One attendee, Blanca, excitedly shared that the building used to be the church that her husband had attended before converting to the Catholic faith. Pilgrim Center of Hope transformed the building into a “spa for the soul” including areas for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, ministry and vendor exhibitors helping women deepen and share their faith, and much more.

During Saturday morning Mass, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS, challenged those present to apply their gifts toward unity in the Church and between peoples, assuring the women: “We need you” to heal divisions and build bridges.

On evaluation forms, women’s comments were overwhelmingly positive, citing the intimate and personal atmosphere. Laughter was heard throughout the weekend, especially during joyful and reflective presentations by Sr. Tracey Dugas, FSP, Kendra Von Esh, and Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox. Women walked away healed and renewed in spirit, ready to continue their journeys in hope.

We thank attendee Nea Britton for sharing her photos, some of which are included in the gallery below.

All women who did not experience the April event are welcomed to register for the September conference.

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Announcing: Multiple Women’s Conferences

The CWC Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for the constant love you have for me. Thank you for the gift of life and the gift of faith.

Today, take me into your Sacred Heart and renew my life. I open my heart to your grace, to be healed where healing is needed. Replace any wounds or worries with your peace and joy. Send your Holy Spirit into my life. Guide me to be the woman you have created me to be: your beloved daughter, disciple, and friend. Make me a woman of faith, hope and charity. Please remove any obstacles which keep me from living this way.

Lord, pour out your grace upon this year’s Catholic Women’s Conference, upon the planning efforts, and upon many women – that they may hear your invitation and respond. May the Conference be a time of spiritual renewal, healing, reconciliation and joy for all who attend.

Thank you, Lord Jesus. For all this, I pray in your sweet Name.
Mary, Mother of God, Our Lady of Hope, pray for us.

Hail, Mary…


“Answering Christ’s call” is the beginning of our Pilgrim Center of Hope (PCH) mission statement, because we want our every decision to be the product of careful & prayerful discernment. After 25 years as a ministry, PCH now enters its next era.

Where has the Holy Spirit been leading us?

Today, we announce that Pilgrim Center of Hope’s “Come to Me” Catholic Women’s Conference will offer 2 more localized conferences for San Antonio women, to serve you with a more personal and intimate experience of encountering Jesus:

“Come to Me” CWC North
April 12 & 13, 2019
Venue: St. Mark the Evangelist Church

“Come to Me” CWC South
September 20 & 21, 2019
(Venue confirmation in progress. Look for an announcement soon.)

“Come to Me” Rural & Outside Areas
Dear women living in rural areas (or cities outside the greater San Antonio area), we want to serve you more personally, too. If you are interested in organizing a “Come to Me” conference in your local area, please contact Pilgrim Center of Hope Events Coordinator, Nan Balfour.

Why More Local?

You know our CWC theme: Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) He also meets us where we are; he ‘comes to us’: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” (Revelation 3:20)

Think about how often Jesus visited people’s homes and neighborhoods – even meeting the Samaritan Woman at her local well. We are following that model this year, by bringing CWC closer to where you live.

From Our Faith

We as Catholics embrace a principle called subsidiarity, which means that we respect the differences in communities and support decision-making at the most local level possible, toward the common good of all (see “The Human Community” in the Catechism of the Catholic Church).

As a conference organized by women, we know that all women’s lives are very different. With our goal to help you encounter Christ and transform your daily life, subsidiarity directs us closer to where you live.

We are choosing parish churches as our venues, to encourage more participation at parishes outside of Mass, supporting parish activity centers and Catholic venues.

Reaching All Women

CWC aims to serve any woman who is seeking God & hope. Hosting CWC North & South enables us to focus on serving particular areas of San Antonio from which many women have not yet experienced CWC. (The map above illustrates which residents CWC North will target & which CWC South will focus on serving.)

Time to Be Missionary Disciples!

To you who live outside CWC North and South regions: We encourage you to build up and strengthen the women’s conferences already taking place in your area or local diocese. Contact your diocesan office to see what is available.

If your area does not yet offer a CWC, we are here to help! Contact us!

Having offered the Catholic Women’s Conference for 17 years, and having mentored rural communities and other dioceses to begin their own event, we at Pilgrim Center of Hope are confident that many women are ready to bring a CWC closer to their own community.

CWC & Beyond… Even More Opportunities

While our Lord has directed us to host smaller & more personal conferences this year (400 seats each), he has also mercifully been orchestrating an additional solution for our growth. Pilgrim Center of Hope will soon be formally announcing its Speaker Team, enabling you to call on PCH for a mini-CWC at your parish, or other parish-based events; like Evenings/Mornings with Mary, Socials with the Saints, and Spiritual Pilgrimages.

Plus, PCH will be offering a new “Meet the Master” Saturday morning reflection series at our peaceful Center in 2019, and continuing the beloved monthly Socials with the Saints.

Yes, this all means more opportunities to encounter Jesus! And still more is on the horizon!

We humbly ask you to pray for PCH, as we “go forth” and organize these events. Pray the CWC Prayer, which many women already pray daily. If you made a resolution to pray more in 2019, we invite you to become a daily Intercessor for Pilgrim Center of Hope’s ministry.

Thank you for your support and encouragement. We are looking forward to the adventures that our Lord has in store for the Catholic Women’s Conference and Pilgrim Center of Hope!

Women’s Conference impacts 1400 women, communities

Women from as close as San Antonio and as far as Nigeria came to Pedrotti’s North Wind Ranch Event Center in Helotes on July 27 and 28 for the 17th annual Catholic Women’s Conference. They came to be taught, inspired, and challenged in what the Catholic faith professes on the dignity and vocation of woman.

On the first evening of this 2-day conference produced by Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic evangelization ministry located in San Antonio, the following was read from the Address of Pope Paul VI to Women on the occasion of the closing of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, December 8, 1965:

And now it is to you that we address ourselves, women of all states—girls, wives, mothers and widows, to you also, consecrated virgins and women living alone—you constitute half of the immense human family. As you know, the Church is proud to have glorified and liberated woman, and in the course of the centuries, in diversity of characters, to have brought into relief her basic equality with man. But the hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of woman is being achieved in its fullness, the hour in which woman acquires in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is under-going so deep a transformation, women impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid mankind in not falling.

“This message was written to all women, and is what the Catholic Church has always professed, but is rarely heard – even by Catholic women,” says conference founder and ministry co-director, Mary Jane Fox.

Fox explains that it is a goal of Pilgrim Center of Hope to ensure this message is heard because she says, “Women have it tough! Too high expectations are placed on women to be the smartest, most beautiful, and most ambitious in all things. Jesus Christ gives women another way, and it was as radical when He first delivered it as it is now: Be Women of Faith! In the Gospel, we hear Jesus praising women because of their faith. This is what matters to God, and our conference exists to deliver this message of hope for all women.”

To expound on this message of hope, speaker Colleen Mitchell spoke on ‘When We Were Eve,’ based on her book of the same title. She said, “As God created, He called everything ‘good’ – until it came to Adam being alone. Adam could not find another creature like him; that God said, ‘is not good.’ So, as His crowning glory, He created Eve to show Adam what it means to be human, causing Adam to proclaim, ‘At last bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh!’ God called this Very Good!”

Was the message of hope heard by the women who attended?

According to one attendee, Amy Maloney, the answer is yes, “I think our world likes to pit women and men against one another. That is not how God created women and men to be. This conference has helped me to see that it is not an accident or a coincidence that I am a woman. I want to know more about how God sees me, why He created me to be a woman. That knowledge excites me; it gives me hope.”

NEW Share Hope Challenge!

Have you been challenged?

Pilgrim Center of Hope’s latest Share Hope Challenge (#PCHShareHope) is raising urgent funds for Sign Language Interpretation at the Catholic Women’s Conference of San Antonio (July 27-28, 2018).


Accepting that you have been challenged is the first step. Once you’ve done so, watch a #PCHShareHope video like the one above, and learn the sign language for “Jesus Loves All People”.


Make a short video to share your challenge, something like:

Hi! I’m _____, and I’ve been challenged to donate for 1 hour of sign language interpretation at this year’s Catholic Women’s Conference of San Antonio.
I accept! And now I challenge __ (NAME 5 FRIENDS) ___.
(Show your newly-learned sign language): JESUS LOVES ALL PEOPLE.


Post your video to social media, and include #PCHShareHope in your post. See how people react to your message of hope!


While you’re waiting for responses, make your donation on the secure Conference Eventbrite page. Next to the option “1-Hour of ASL Interpretation for our Deaf Sisters (Donation)” select 1 or more hours at $60 each. Hit “Register” and continue the process.

Donations ($3000 total) are urgently needed before July 27. Thank you!

Pilgrim Center of Hope, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, supported by individuals like you. Your gift is tax-exempt. Thanks to Pilgrim Center of Hope’s benefactors, we can offer the majority of our events at no cost to attendees, and provide services like ASL Interpretation. Your donations are greatly appreciated to continue the mission of hope!

You’re Invited: Women’s Conference

Seventeen years ago, the Catholic Women’s Conference (CWC) was founded by Mary Jane Fox, co-director/founder at Pilgrim Center of Hope to bring a message of hope to women. A message that she says women still need to hear.

“With so many family, financial and societal burdens placed on women, it is easy to feel lost, confused and to doubt that God cares. Women need hope; to know that God is calling personally to them, Come to me all who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest, (Matthew 11:28) says Fox.

She continues, “Every year, like the Hemorrhaging Woman in the Gospel of Matthew, thousands of women from all over Texas and beyond come to San Antonio seeking to encounter Jesus. Like the woman in the Bible, whose blood flow was stopped when she touched the tassel on His cloak, women have been healed. Others have been renewed, reconciled, and given direction…spiritual direction.”

The conference is planned every year by Pilgrim Center of Hope with the help of a steering committee made up of eleven volunteer women. “Great forethought, planning, and prayer goes into the selection of our guest speakers. Led by the Holy Spirit we are always guided to the relevant topics and the dynamic speakers that touch and transform the approximately two-thousand women that attend each year,” says Nan Balfour, events coordinator at Pilgrim Center of Hope.

Speaking this year are award-winning Catholic author Colleen C. Mitchell, convert and surfer priest Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC – bestselling author of Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon, and Mother Adela Galindo, the founder of the Religious Institute Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Pilgrim Center of Hope Co-Director & Co-Founder Mary Jane Fox will also be presenting, plus Mass will be celebrated by the Most Reverend Michael Boulette, Auxiliary Bishop of San Antonio.

Miss Mitchell’s topics are When We Were Eve, Uncovering the Woman God Created You to Be and Who Does He Say You Are? Women Transformed by Christ in the Gospels, the titles of her two books. Aside from sharing some of her life experiences, Colleen strives to provide guidance to women who are searching for answers and seeking to find their identity in Christ. She is passionate about speaking on the heart of God for women and their well-being.

Father Calloway, whose life was changed forever after reading about Our Lady, will speak on Mary and the Mystery of Femininity and The Rosary: Spiritual Sword of Mary. Not only will Fr. Calloway help women to better understand their femininity, but he will also focus on the role of women in the family, in the workplace and in relationships…and what all women can learn from the Virgin Mary.

Mother Adela Galindo will present talks on Heart to Heart, Jesus’ Longing for Women and Inflame: How Women are Uniquely Called to Kindle the Heart of Humanity. Mother Adela’s life has been marked by a profound Marian spirituality. She has a deep love of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus and the Maternal Heart of Our Lady. With both in mind, Mother Adela will share her thoughts on the potentiality of the feminine genius.

“The goal of the Catholic Women’s Conference, which we call a ‘Spa for the Soul’ is designed to provide the spiritual tools that teach, encourage and challenge women to be exactly who God created them to be. Every woman, whether she is already passionate about her faith or feeling lost and hopeless, will benefit from these two days of enlightenment. All are welcome,” says Nan Balfour


The Catholic Women’s Conference provides an environment and experiences where women can discover and learn about their true personal dignity in God. Here they also encounter Christ and the Church, are encouraged to know and love God, and go forth inspired and empowered, using their gifts to transform their families and society.

It is the hope of Pilgrim Center of Hope that every woman who attends this year’s Catholic Women’s Conference will leave with the a message of hope from our Lord as did the hemorrhaging woman, Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you (Matthew 9:22).

This year’s conference is taking place on Friday, July 27 and Saturday, July 28, 2018 at Pedrotti’s North Wind Ranch Event Center, located on the northwest side of San Antonio off Loop 1604 at the Hausman Excit. Cost to attend the two-day conference is $100, which includes registration for both days, all meals including Friday dinner, Saturday breakfast, Saturday lunch, and concession snacks.

Register online and learn more at CWCSanAntonio.com. You can also call Pilgrim Center of Hope at 210-521-3377.

Robert V. Rodriguez is the Public Relations and Outreach Assistant at Pilgrim Center of Hope. Living Catholicism is a regular column of this Catholic evangelization apostolate that answers Christ’s call by guiding people to encounter Him through pilgrimages, conferences and outreach.

Will you get a phone call from PCH?

How could we possibly keep in touch with almost 200 parishes and over 1 million Catholics in San Antonio?

In an effort to invite as many women as possible, our2017 Catholic Women’s Conference steering committee is making phone calls to some past attendees and parishes. We’re compiling an updated list of relevant contact information for each parish, including Women’s Groups and ACTS Retreats, along with key staff members. Additionally, we’re looking at possible obstacles; why aren’t women from certain parishes attending? How can we help remove some of these obstacles?

Ultimately, Pilgrim Center of Hope wants to make sure that all women in every parish receive Jesus’ invitation, “Come to Me…” (Matt. 11:28)

Would you like to tell us about your parish? We are looking for Parish Advocates; enthusiastic members of a parish who can keep Pilgrim Center of Hope informed about parish news and culture, as well as sharing invitations from Pilgrim Center of Hope events with the members of their parish.

Send us mail

3 + 1 = ?

Catholic Women’s Conference registration now open!

Registration is now open for the Pilgrim Center of Hope’s 16th annual “Come to Me” Catholic Women’s Conference happening July 28-29, 2017 at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio!

Early Bird registrants for individual tickets will receive $15 off if they register on or before February 28. All pre-registration tickets include admission for Friday and Saturday of the event, plus Saturday Breakfast and Lunch. Registration for groups of 10 or more is also available through July 5.

We need help sponsoring women in need; the Samaritan Women ticket type includes a registration for oneself, plus a registration for a woman in need ($100 total). Please consider this ticket type, or add a Donation to your order when registering. As a non-profit organization, we greatly appreciate your partnership in this mission for women!

The annual conference, regarded as a “spa for the woman’s soul,” is a two-day event fostering an appreciation for the personal dignity of women, encouraging them to know and love God, and inspiring them to use their feminine gifts for the transformation of family and society. The Catholic Women’s Conference is an event for healing, spiritual direction, and receiving tools for everyday living and resources for education.

Visit CWCSanAntonio.com for details about our 2017 Speaker Lineup. Schedule and more details are forthcoming!

First announcement: Women’s Conference speakers!

We are rounding out the speaker lineup for Pilgrim Center of Hope’s 16th annual “Come to Me” Catholic Women’s Conference, expected to open registration within the next 30 days.

Father Michael GaitleyFather Michael Gaitley, MIC, popular author of practical devotional books that are sweeping churches internationally, will be among the dynamic speakers at this year’s event. The Conference Committee finds it no coincidence that, after several years of attempting to schedule Fr. Gaitley as a speaker, our success finally came on the tails of the Jubilee Year of Mercy and amid the Jubilee of Our Lady of Fatima’s apparitions. Father Gaitley’s recent books focus on the themes of mercy and Marian devotion as an approachable way to deepening one’s personal relationship with Christ.

In addition to Father Gaitley, conference attendees will benefit from Lisa Mladinich‘s unique insights into the beauty of a woman’s vocation. Mladinich is a wife, mother, author, and former actress who continues to use her performance skills as a teacher and catechist. From youth to maturing adults, Lisa’s audiences find encouragement and challenge in her presentation of our beauty and calling as daughters of God.

Continue to pray for us as we solidify the final speakers and details of this outstanding event, to be held July 29-30, 2017 at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio!

Conference participants pray together

Local News Coverage for Catholic Women’s Conference

Our upcoming Catholic Women’s Conference (September 9-10, 2016) has been blessed with media coverage, both Catholic and secular. The San Antonio Express-News recently contacted Mary Jane to be interviewed about the event, and the piece is scheduled to publish in this Sunday’s (August 21) newspaper “Faith” section.

The newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Today’s Catholic, has published two articles about the event. Read them below.

‘Come to me’ — experience the beautiful, healing message of God
by Katherine Jass Slone
for Today’s Catholic

Women from all walks of life are invited to gather at this year’s Catholic Women’s Conference, Come to Me, and experience the beautiful and healing message God has for whom he calls his daughter. The conference is set for Sept. 9-10 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, located in downtown San Antonio. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the conference dedicated to evangelizing and promoting the dignity of all women.

Fashioned from a concern about the status of women in the church and the world, Mary Jane Fox, co-founder of the Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic evangelization ministry, along with her husband Deacon Tom Fox, began the conference whose mission is “to foster an appreciation for the personal dignity of women, to encourage women to know and love God, and to inspire women to use their feminine gifts to transform the family and society.”

“The Catholic Women’s Conference offers women the opportunity to be renewed in their faith and to deepen their belief in the teachings of the Catholic Church,” Fox said.

In today’s world, the role of women in the church is vital to its continued mission to evangelize and share God’s message. “Pope Francis has brought up on several occasions, the need for women’s role in the church to be more emphasized. Emphasizing the unique role of women and special charisms of the feminine vocation has been what the annual Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Catholic Women’s Conference has been achieving since 2001. Unique dignity of every woman is often not discussed, or worse, diminished by a culture that constantly encourages women to compare and to place their value in the eyes of others instead of who they are in the image and likeness of God,” said Nan Balfour, Pilgrim Center of Hope events coordinator.

For the past year, steering committee members have been prayerfully planning the conference where women will hear positive messages about their worth in the church and society, as well as be rejuvenated to strengthen their relationship with our Lord. “The Holy Spirit seems to be calling us this year to focus on fostering peace in a women’s life by bringing unity of mind, body and spirit in harmony,” Balfour said.

This year’s speakers will certainly echo the sentiment of fostering peace in our lives.

Author and speaker Sarah Swafford will address the issues women deal with daily, such as body image and self-worth. She will also share how women can build strong and healthy friendships. Susan Tassone, also a speaker and author, will remind women of God’s power of mercy and inspire women to go out and share that mercy with others.

Founder of Project Rachel, Vicki Thorn will help women to identify their wounds so they can be empowered to seek healing and truly see God’s vision for them. Also presenting at the conference are Fox and Balfour, who will continue to emphasize the message of fostering peace, and encourage women to live vocation with dignity. Women will also have opportunities to experience reconciliation through the sacrament of confession, spend time in prayer with Jesus in Adoration and receive resources that will help them live and share faith.

Mass with Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, will be celebrated Saturday morning. “We are once again blessed to have our beloved Archbishop Gustavo with us this year to celebrate Mass. Last year, his passionate homily had the women filled with the Holy Spirit,” Balfour said.

Originally published August 5, 2016

Saints are coming to Catholic Women’s Conference in SA

When the 16 women who steer the Catholic Women’s Conference planning committee went on a site visit to see the newly renovated Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center where this year’s Spa for the Soul is being held, they got very excited.

What they soon realized is it is also a bit of a walk from the Market Street Main Entrance to the Hemisfair Ballroom. Angela Sealana, ministry coordinator for the Pilgrim Center of Hope quickly offered a creative idea, “Let’s make the journey from the entrance to the event a walking pilgrimage!”

From this spurt of creativity, came a flurry of suggestions to make the conference a truly Catholic event to inspire women to live our faith and share it with others. The result is a pilgrimage walk to include a Catholic Women’s Conference style “communion of saints”; women volunteers acting and speaking as saints to greet, welcome and encourage women along the way. So far, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Gemma Galgani, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, St. Mary Magdalene, and of course, this year’s patron saint, St. Teresa of Calcutta, will be among them. “From the second they arrive, we want women to discover it is through the Catholic Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ where their true value and dignity as woman is fostered and encouraged,” says Mary Jane Fox, co-director of the Pilgrim Center of Hope and founder of the Catholic Women’s Conference. “These women saints represent how women from all walks of life and every generation have been called to follow Christ. They testify to what St. John Paul II wrote in Mulieris Dignitatem, ‘Man’s Redemption, foretold in Genesis, now becomes a reality in the person and mission of Jesus Christ, in which we also recognize what the reality of the Redemption means for the dignity and the vocation of women. This meaning becomes clearer for us from Christ’s words and from his whole attitude towards women, an attitude which is extremely simple, and for this very reason extraordinary, if seen against the background of his time. It is an attitude marked by great clarity and depth. Various women appear along the path of the mission of Jesus of Nazareth, and his meeting with each of them is a confirmation of the evangelical ‘newness of life’ . . . ].’”

Fox shares that it is providing this “newness of life” that inspires the committee members to work tirelessly for months to plan the two-day event, being held Sept. 9-10. “We read the evaluation forms, listen to the video testimonies and hear from the many women who come to share their transformations thanks to encountering Christ at the Catholic Women’s Conference. Our website has many of these testimonies recorded and are worth watching. So many share how the speakers’ messages felt directed right at what they were going through. They become overwhelmed with emotion as they remember feeling God present to them during the Friday night healing service with benediction; his loving gaze penetrating their hearts and healing their wounds. They speak of the joy of discovering so many like-minded women also seeking God. They speak of the encouragement, the challenge and the new-found knowledge in how to be prophets of hope to the world, and the women God has created them to be. They see in the two days, so much of the beauty and treasure of the Catholic faith offered in the sacraments of the Eucharist and reconciliation.”

Women may still register for the Catholic Women’s Conference. The Pilgrim Center of Hope welcomes all women to respond to our Lord’s invitation to, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Mat 11:28.

Originally published August 19, 2016

John Paul II

On the Dignity & Vocation of Woman


It is universally admitted – even by people with a critical attitude towards the Christian message – that in the eyes of his contemporaries Christ became a promotor of women’s true dignity and of the vocation corresponding to this dignity. At times this caused wonder, surprise, often to the point of scandal: “They marvelled that he was talking with a woman” (Jn 4:27), because this behaviour differed from that of his contemporaries. Even Christ’s own disciples “marvelled”. The Pharisee to whose house the sinful woman went to anoint Jesus’ feet with perfumed oil “said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner'” (Lk 7:39). Even greater dismay, or even “holy indignation”, must have filled the self-satisfied hearers of Christ’s words: “the tax collectors and the harlots go into the Kingdom of God before you” (Mt 21:31).