There are days that stick out in your mind as being some of the best, most soul-inspiring, validating, joyful days you have ever witnessed. On the Saturday before Palm Sunday, I was given God’s generous gift of one such day when I attended the Dynamic Women of Faith Conference in Toronto. The conference which celebrated its fifth year is the labour of love of founder, author, columnist, broadcaster, entrepreneur, mom, wife - Dorothy Pilarski.
I was invited to give a talk on the integration of motherhood, faith and entrepreneurship. My talk was very short so for most of the day I was privileged to enjoy the presentations of some very dynamic people.
Keynote speakers included Father Terry McKenna, the spiritual director of the Cursillo Movement, who talked about the value of suffering and how God turns all things to good for those who love Him. Author, broadcaster, journalist, Catholic Insight columnist, Michael Coren, gave a personal talk on his journey of faith. CatholicMom.com founder, author, broadcaster, speaker, Lisa Hendey, came to us from her home in California and gave an inspiring talk on the saints and how they empower us. Dorothy Pilarski urged us to discover our mission and shared tips on how to make our mid-life a great life. Mid-life can be any time of life since we do not know the length of our time on earth and so her talk addressed women of all ages. There were other speakers who like me, gave smaller talks and testimonies.
The energy of the approximately one hundred fifty people (mostly women) in the room was electrifying. Young and young-at-heart women from all walks of life enjoyed the company of their sisters-in-Christ. Having an understanding of the lives of many of the women at the conference, I could appreciate the determined effort needed for some of the women to be able to attend.
What struck me most about all those gathered was our common bond and our shared goal of holiness. We are all called to be saints and the women in that room, whether we were single, married, widowed, spiritual or biological mothers with babes-in-arms, bringing home the bacon or staying home and cooking it – all of us knew that our mission in life, as Lisa Hendey reminded us, is to get ourselves and our loved ones to Heaven. In other words, we have to sanctify our lives for the sole purpose of gaining eternal life. What a calling! What a challenge!
With marriage, motherhood, family life, femininity, and a life of holiness all under unrelenting attack, the journey back to the Father can be fraught with setbacks and suffering ( most definitely with suffering). While most of us have significant loved ones in our lives to whom we can turn in difficult times, we ought never to underestimate the restorative power of the sisterhood of the saints, the other women who walk the same journey with us. They can be a shoulder to cry on, a bearer of home-cooked meals in times of upheaval, a shared laugh over delicate china tea cups, a hand to hold in times of sorrow, and an excited cheerleader who salutes our successes.
I learned something very valuable at the Dynamic Women of Faith Conference. I learned that we need conferences such as this to empower us in the best, most grace-filled, Christ centred way. We need to support our sisters-in-Christ whose journeys take them through all the different meanderings on the road that is life. No matter what our differences, our commonalities are greater and they are what bind us together as we stumble towards holiness.
We need each other. We need the wisdom of our older sisters, the hopes, dreams, questions of our younger sisters, and the insights gleaned from lives of the women who are deepest in the daily witness of family life, careers, and other responsibilities. All of us are charting out a faithful witness of discipleship in a turbulent world and we can all help a sister out.
So be empowered by the Spirit and by events such as the Dynamic Women of Faith Conference. Love our Lord, love Holy Mother Church, love each other. Be a dynamic woman of courageous, steadfast, generous, joyful witness to Truth and let us gain Heaven for ourselves, our families, and for each other.