By Joyce Voss
Using a theme gleaned from words of St. Joan of Arc, “One Life is All We Have”, this all-day conference was held on the campus of Xavier College Prep in Phoenix on January 29, 2022. About 300 women were in attendance to hear speakers, visit vendors, attend Mass and have an opportunity to go to Confession if desired.
Noelle Mering, author of “AWAKE, Not Woke: A Christian Response to the Cult of Progressive Ideology”, presented probably the most challenging talk of the day. Giving a very detailed background on the development of Woke in our culture, she showed how it leads to the destabilization of our culture, family, religious life and citizenship.
Christine Accurso, as a champion of Pro Women’s Healthcare Centers, brought us stories of activism in the political arena. “If you are confirmed,” she said, “you have all the gifts you need for the fight.” Our two cents DOES matter. It is important to pray for change but sometimes the cause needs a VOICE.
Father John Nahrgang has done extensive research on the Immaculate Conception and the story of the Miraculous Medal. Highlights of the medal’s history were told through apparitions of Mary, St. Dominic and the Rosary, and the experience of St. Catherine Laboure. Father also related information on the only U.S. apparition of Our Lady in a town now called Champion, near Green Bay, WI. Each participant had received a Miraculous Medal with her registration materials. Father ended his talk by blessing the medals.
Breaking for lunch, we had a chance to walk around the campus, socialize over our boxed lunches, visit the chapel, and take advantage of the opportunity to go to confession. The next set of speakers filled the rest of the conference day.
The thrust of Kathleen Beckman’s presentation was spiritual warfare, from the level of personal battling to the work of exorcism. She told about her experience of being at an exorcism, and this was a very powerful testimony. Another story told of the power of the Magnificat in freeing a man possessed before the exorcism actually began. The strongest tools for spiritual warfare, we learned, consist of looking at the crucified Jesus on the cross, accompanied by prayers of gratitude and praise.
Cari Donaldson hails from New England where she lives on a farm with her husband, their six children, and a menagerie of animals. She has a YouTube channel called Sacramental Worldview that focuses on finding God in language, folklore, and the ordinary events of daily life. Living in a rural area, her family experienced eight months of no sacraments during the Pandemic, leading them to find creative ways to worship. Her engaging presentation revealed nature’s unique language and how we find Christ in Creation.
Sister Elizabeth Grace arrived in Phoenix with four other members of her order, Sisters of Life, in September 2021. They have a presence in downtown Phoenix and also on the campus of Arizona State University. Sister explained the work they do by sharing some of the encounters that the sisters have had. She told in a wonderful manner how they bring hope and healing to both pregnant women as well as those who have had abortions.
Roberta Bazaldua and her team did an outstanding job in planning and convening the conference. We look forward to seeing what thought-provoking topics, spiritual aids, and delights await the attendees in 2023.