“Seniors Matter!” 2016 Catholic Seniors’ Conference summary

“Seniors, Your Presence, Your Experiences, and Your Prayers do Matter!”

The 3rd annual Catholic Seniors’ Conference, held on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at St. Matthew Catholic Church can best be described as a joy-filled day which yielded tremendous insight, laughter and hope.

Special guest speakers, Fr. Servando Guerrero-Ponce and Susan Tassone, seized the moment to connect with the approximately 400 seniors in attendance. The mood throughout the day was positive and uplifting. The level of intimacy and warmth that each presenter generated was astounding!

The day began with the celebration of the Eucharist, which set the stage for a day filled with God’s grace and blessing. Once everyone got situated in the McDonald Center, the room full of elders was treated to a videotaped welcome message from Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, whose vision it was to create the Catholic Seniors’ Conference. Inspired by the retirement of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 2013, Archbishop approached the Pilgrim Center of Hope, organizers of the Catholic Women’s Conference and Catholic Men’s Conference, asking them to create a conference especially for seniors.

Fr. Servando Guerrero Ponce, a young, vibrant priest of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, had several powerful messages during his presentation, “Life’s Journey to Our Heavenly Father.” Seniors ‘young and old’ were reminded that their presence and their stories are important.

Fr. Servando told all present that, regardless of their age or infirmity, they are loved for who they are, going back all the way to their time in the womb. He said, “Your journey began in eternity and you are headed to eternity.” About the challenges of growing old and overcoming difficulty, Father said that as we all get older we realize, “Life is about waiting for the storm to pass and learning how to dance in the rain.”  Fr. Servando urged all in attendance to enjoy the here and now, to experience God right now. And wherever we are, we need to be fully present.

The momentum and energy of the day only increased for author Susan Tassone’s presentation called, “God’s Mercy in the Mystery of Suffering.” Susan, who is known as the champion of the Holy Souls (in Purgatory), came striding onto the stage in a brand new pair of red cowboy boots, purchased right here in San Antonio, especially for the occasion.

Several inspiring messages were shared by the author of the new St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, chief of which was the revelation that the suffering of the elderly, when offered up and united with prayer, can help the Holy Souls reach heaven. Susan also reminded everyone that the two chief sources to help the souls in purgatory are the holy sacrifice of the Mass and praying the Rosary.

Following an in depth question and answer period with the audience, Miss Tassone led the group of attendees in a faith-filled and reflective scriptural Rosary. Making the moment even more special was the presence of a painted portrait of Our Lady of the Rosary on the main stage, created by artist Ken Fox, brother of Pilgrim Center of Hope co-founder Deacon Tom Fox.

This event marks the third year that the Pilgrim Center of Hope has organized and presented the Catholic Seniors’ Conference – Hallmarks of Aging and Wisdom.

Proverbs 13:14 tells us, “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life.” To ensure that this message is continually carried out, plans are already underway for the 2017 Catholic Senior’s Conference.  If you would like more information about participating in next year’s event, please contact the Pilgrim Center of Hope at 210.521.3377 or directly email Nan Balfour, Events Coordinator: events@pilgrimcenterofhope.org.