Carissa Douglas at the Dynamic Women of Faith conference. Photo by Sheila Nonato

Christ’s light shines on women of faith

By  Sheila Nonato, Catholic Register Special
  • April 6, 2024

More than 500 women heard the message of hope and seeking the light of Christ to combat fear and hesitation in order to answer God’s call of living as women of faith in their families and communities at the 15th annual Dynamic Women of Faith Conference on March 23.

American Catholic media personality Kathleen Beckman, the keynote speaker, delivered a powerful call to action for women:

“By the fact that you are dynamic women of faith, you are pushing back the darkness and bringing the light of Christ where you are, so keep doing that, please,” Beckman, president and co-founder of the Foundation of Prayer for Priests, encouraged the crowd.

“The message that I want to convey to conference attendees is one of hope and healing. My talks are aimed at equipping women to live out their call to holiness in all vocations,” Beckman told The Catholic Register.

“There is a spiritual battle aimed at the identity of woman, marriage and our children. My exhortation will empathize the Church’s spiritual arsenal that will assure their victory in Christ against the enemies of family, and God.”

During the opening Mass, Toronto’s Cardinal Thomas Collins encouraged attendees to study Scripture because Jesus is real in the Word and in the sacraments.

“The wall between time and eternity is increasingly thin when we come in the presence of the Almighty God,” Collins said in his homily.

Cancer survivor and podcaster Tammy Peterson shared the story of her cancer battle and her family’s unwavering support and  of praying for “courage and strength” during the dark days of battling illness for herself, and illness within her family, as well as the courage to take up a new role in public speaking.

After doctors diagnosed her as cancer-free, Peterson recalled her prayer to God to speak publicly if she was granted the gift of surviving past the 10 months that doctors said she had left to live, and full recovery from the debilitating illness that came afterwards.

Peterson’s example of boldness and public witness echoed the Dynamic Women of Faith’s tag line: “Get inspired, discover your mission, do something for God.”

“The main goal is for women to do something with the inspiration and insights they get at the conference,” conference organizer Dorothy Pilarski told the Register. 

“We’re made for more than Netflix. We’re made for more than social media,” she told the crowd. “Let’s do an examination of how we use our time and to have more time in front of the Blessed Sacrament.”

While busy women and moms may not always have time to stop by a chapel, having room for prayer, especially for the little ones, can develop and nurture one’s call from God, from childhood onwards.

Dr. Anna Boyagoda, director of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for the Archdiocese of Toronto, talked about the Montessori-style method of catechesis for children. The theme of her talk was “creating a space for prayer” where she shared her role in creating a special room for children where they can learn about the Catholic faith.

Boyagoda takes special care and attention to creating “a special room, where everything is just their size, where all the materials are handmade just for them … to help them come closer to God,” she explained in a blog post.

Having a space for prayer also lends itself to the question of our use of time. For Catholics, the special time and special prayer space comes together in the Sunday Mass.

“The Sabbath is the image of freedom,” she said, and Sunday is the day when “the love story between God and man” underscores the covenant between them.

Another covenant that is sacred and is a gift from God is the marriage covenant. Children’s book author and illustrator Carissa Douglas spoke of “becoming a co-creator with God and discovering your mission” about life as a mother of 15 children, from three months old to 21 years of age.

“God sees you and He is going to be faithful in bringing you to your mission and your purpose and vocation,” she said.

Douglas encouraged women to overcome obstacles in finding their vocation which can include perfectionism, and the temptation of doing everything for everyone in the family or attempting to fix everything that’s wrong in the world on our own, without relying upon God’s providence.

She is saddened by the common secular reaction to the question of whether to have children in an imperfect and fallen world.

“That disturbs me because that is our very call, to pick up our Cross and follow Christ.”

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