February 28, 2014

Annual women’s conference set for March 22 at Indiana Convention Center

By Briana Stewart

Viewed as a celebration of faith, mercy and heart, the 9th annual Indiana Catholic Women’s Conference will be held in Indianapolis on March 22.

The all-day event at the Indiana Convention Center is being presented by the Marian Center of Indianapolis in partnership with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

The main theme of the conference will be, “The greatest gift of all … mercy,” according to Kathy Denney, director of the conference and the Marian Center.

Denney said the theme is a tribute to Blessed John Paul II, who stressed during his tenure as pontiff the importance of divine mercy and the new evangelization.

“We always pray and make a decision on the theme for the conference, and since Blessed John Paul II is about to be made a saint in April, we thought we would take up his cause this year,” Denney said.

Speakers at the conference—which will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.—will include some of the most influential Catholic women today.

Julia Calandra Lineberg will speak about the life of St. Padre Pio, an Italian priest who had a deep love for God and who received the wounds of Christ, the stigmata, in the early 1900s.

“We thought we would [make the life of] St. Padre Pio [part of the conference] because he wrote about divine mercy really before anyone knew about it,” Denney said.

Wanting to add a contemporary influence among its speakers, conference organizers also lined up Janet Sahm, an Indianapolis native and graduate of Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis who is a co-founder and style editor of Verily, a magazine for young women.

Denney shared her thoughts on the importance of having Sahm speak at the conference: “[Blessed] John Paul told us to get into the mainstream and change the way—the direction—society was going by bringing in goodness and wholesomeness, and this is what this woman does.”

The third speaker at the conference is Our Lady of Mercy Sister Caterina Esselen. She will talk about divine mercy.

Denney is excited about the cooperation between the Marian Center and the archdiocese for this year’s women’s conference.

“They [the archdiocese] have always supported the conference, but this year we are in partnership with them so that’s something new for us,” Denney said.

The archdiocese’s role in the conference extends beyond its financial contributions. Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin is scheduled to participate during the conference. So is Father Patrick Beidelman, executive director of the secretariat for spiritual life and worship for the archdiocese.

Msgr. Joseph Schaedel, pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, will celebrate Mass during the conference. Priests from the archdiocese will offer the sacrament of reconciliation. Opportunities for eucharistic adoration will also be available.

The women’s conference is more than just a day to get together and talk about faith, it is a time for life-changing experiences, Denney said.

“We [sponsors] are hoping that the message of divine mercy changes hearts and that it spreads.”

(To receive more information or to register for the conference, call 317-888-0873 or visit the website, www.indianacatholicwomen.com. Registration for the conference by March 1 is $45. Registration after March 1 is $50. The cost for students and religious is $20. All participants will receive lunch as part of their registration fee.)

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