Staff Report (Florida Catholic)


Catholic mothers, wives, grandmothers, and daughters of all ages are all invited and encouraged to attend the 2017 Diocese of Venice Women’s Conference on Saturday, February 11 in Fort Myers.

This annual event, coordinated by the Diocesan Office of Evangelization and hosted by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, offers internationally-renowned speakers who will inspire and empower the participants to grow closer to the Lord and to benefit themselves, their families, their Parish Community, and the Universal Catholic Church.

Those who have attended the Diocesan Women’s Conference in the past have come to love the camaraderie and the renewal it brings to their souls.  In many ways, the Conference is a mini retreat for the participants – something sorely needed in today’s busy world. Those who attend are able to participate in Adoration, the Sacrament of Confession, listen to inspiring speakers, and attend Mass.

The day begins at 8 a.m., at Bishop Verot Catholic High School, 5598 Sunrise Drive, Fort Myers, with a small breakfast and an opportunity to inspect the offerings of vendors. The vending tables have become a social gathering to many as they peruse great Catholic books, DVD’s and even clothes, while chatting with old and new friends. The excitement builds for the day ahead as one sips her coffee and smiles to those coming into the courtyard.

The rest of the day is different for each participant. To some it is an exciting day of new things and new friends. To others it is a firm challenge set in their minds to grow and mature in their Faith. Some women are so moved that they might drive home in silence because they don’t want to lose the peace and serenity of God that has entered within them.

This year’s exciting speakers are Dr. Ted Sri, Rachael Balducci, Susan Conroy and Lisa Cotter.

Dr. Sri is a theologian, author, and nationally known Catholic speaker who appears regularly on EWTN, and is the host of the acclaimed film series Symbolon: The Catholic Faith Explained (Augustine Institute) which is being used in 5,000 parishes in its first 2 years.

Rachel Swenson Balducci is a newspaper columnist for the Southern Cross and writes online at her personal blog, Testosterhome.net. She is the author of “How Do You Tuck In A Superhero” and other delightful mysteries of raising boys, and is a co-host of The Gist on CatholicTV.

Susan Conroy is an author, public speaker and television host. Conroy first journeyed to India between her junior and senior years at Dartmouth College after being inspired by Mother Teresa’s efforts there on behalf of the Poorest of the Poor. There she developed a friendship with Mother Teresa which lasted throughout the course of 11 years. Susan travels across the United States and to other countries so as to speak of her experiences, to share our Faith, and to encourage joy-filled service to those who are in need of mercy.

Lisa Cotter is a nationally sought-after speaker on the topics of relationships, femininity, and living life with excellence. Cotter spoke in November at the 2016 Diocese of Venice Youth Conference, is the founder of Made to Magnify, a ministry with a mission to help people become saints — because it’s worth it. She and her husband, Kevin, are the co-authors of “Dating Detox” (to be published January 2017).

The Conference concludes following one final opportunity for community and gathering with a Mass at 2 p.m. celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane.

Cost in advance is $20 (pre-registration on line), students $5 pre-registration. Cost at the door is $30, and $10 for students. This event usually sells out. For Conference details and to register go to dioceseofvenice.org/womens. If you have questions, please call 941-484-9543 or email evangelization@dioceseofvenice.org.

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