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