Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Post Review of the First EVER Catholic Women's Conference!



Really.  I can not think of a better description for what happened here Saturday.  (as I type this, I'm also saying wow to the shingles that are dancing on my roof....  *sigh*)

What happened here Saturday?

Something that has been missing for four years, and probably just as many years prior to 2012 as well.

There was a women's conference in WNY.  Not just any women's conference, but a conference put on by an amazing group of women that I am privileged to be a part of!

This is our group....

 I was pregnant with our baby #7 when the idea began to formulate among us.  Could we even pull off a women's conference?  I mean, it sounded nice.  We sure would like to attend one, but to actually put on one ourselves?  Seemed impossible.  But we kept talking about it.  This was the beginning of 2015.   It wasn't until my baby wound up in the hospital with RSV that we actually began making phone calls.  That was literally one year ago last week.  I remember I contacted two different potential speakers, found out their cost, and called my friends back and said, "never mind, ladies....we can't do this..."

They were so expensive!!  We would have to put down a deposit, pay airline tickets, hotel, food, it was almost too much for me to think about.  (this was when we knew our #7 was ok-just waiting to get her levels back up...)

I remember having a conversation with one of the ladies about us contacting the local radio station.  We figured, if they knew there was a genuine interest, they might be called to bring another one back to our area.  So we called.  And we waited.

I always tell God lots of things.  Probably too many things.  He's my Father-my eternal Father, so I talk to Him like He's my Dad.  I remember specifically telling Him that if He wanted us crazy women, with half a million kids between us, to plan a conference, He was going to have to open every single door and help us make it happen.

And wouldn't you know it, just as He does everything, He answered me ever so softly in my heart and put the desire there.  It was that kind of desire that when you talk about it, your heart gets racy, your face gets hot and you know you need to do something?  He answered me, all right, with a resounding, 'crazycatholicmomma, I'd love to....'

So we worked.  We planned.  We talked and we prayed.  What would it take to make this work?  How much money would we need to have up front?  What kind of speakers could we even afford?

The first thing we needed to do was to seek the Bishop's permission and blessing.  The funny thing was that the Bishop was out of town off and on for several months and his secretarial assistant was actually out of the country.  So we quietly continued to plan, with the hopes that the Bishop would see this as a beautiful opportunity for his flock of WNY.  We didn't want the word getting out until we had his blessing.  It was that important to us.  We thought, however, we could go ahead and figure out, if not schedule, a few speakers ahead of time.

 The first person that popped into my mind was Dr. Ray Guarendi.  I would listen to him on the radio and just laugh at his sense of humor.  He seemed to be very neutral when it came to speaking to anyone so I wasn't worried about him not being able to reach women of all ages and stages of the game.  I emailed his site.

He replied immediately.

I had my first conversation with what I love to call, "my Catholic rock stars..."  (because as you will remember, it's all about me...)

He was not available on the date we requested so we had to go back and revisit our plan.... We finally settled on a date, February 27, 2016.  He was in fact available and told me we'd be in touch later on to discuss details.


Yet not so simple.

The two months it took to get and receive the Bishop's blessing was stressful!  Who else would we get?  Who else could we afford?  Dr. Ray was easy- he was driving from his location since it was "so close" and his fee was very affordable.  (to this day, I feel as though we got WAAAAY more than what we paid him!!!)

When the Bishop's secretary finally got back into the country and contacted me, he said he would give him all our information and get back to me.  Talk about pressure. In the meantime, we worked out a slight glitch in where we could host the event.  We made tentative plans for another speaker, Hallie Lord, to speak.

When we finally received the blessing from Bishop Malone, we took off.  We held our first planning meeting, and invited several people we thought could be very instrumental in helping us.  We were contacted once again by the diocese because apparently, they needed to make sure we were a legit Catholic group (I assured him we were 100% authentic Catholics- following the Magisterium).

The roller coaster was off and we were literally sitting in the car, holding on for dear life, and screaming at every high and low!  We didn't stop until yesterday.  The day after our event.

I'm just going to leave you with a few pictures and then a few words (I promise it will be brief) about the experience of our first women's conference....

Getting ready for mass to begin.  We realize there are probably 500 women...

Bishop Richard Malone during his beautiful homily!

Our very own Channel 2 news anchor, MaryAlice Demler

Danielle Bean-excellent talk!

Hallie Lord, Heather Schieder, & Danielle Bean.  Some of the funniest Catholic women out there...

Hallie Lord-wonderful words!  

Just reminiscing over cast pictures....

Fr. Bill Quinlivan with his Reconciliation reflection!

Dr. Ray Guarendi with two of my favorite peeps!

Dr. Ray and MaryAlice Demler.  One of the funniest moments of the day...

Dr. Ray.  Seriously laughed so much during his talk.  

Don't ask.  Just don't ask.  Heather is about the funniest woman alive in America today...

Danielle and I the day after as she heads home from the windy WNY!

The day could not have been any better than it was.  Are there areas we need to work on for next year?  Absolutely.  Registration was like herding cats- it was a bit chaotic.  Parking was a bit hairy- I'll forever have running over a cone (put in the spot I was stopped in for our Bishop) and getting out to make sure Danielle and my kids got out safely and seeing our actual Bishop Lots of humility abounded that day, there....

I will tell anyone who asks, that the women never once complained about parking to me.  The gentlemen who helped with parking said the same thing.  They were very complimentary of everyone in attendance.

Lunch went fairly smoothly, the three locations really helped.  Note to self, GF lunches will be kept behind locked doors until said GF ladies find us.... lesson learned there....

The day was just a beautiful, beautiful, example of God's grace and mercy shining through.  I was astounded by it throughout the day.

So that's a wrap.  The conclusion?   We are a here to stay.  We are already working on next year.  We have a date confirmed by our diocese.  We have a few speakers on the radar we are emailing and getting information from.  We are already planning a "debriefing" meeting with ideas/concerns we need to work on for next year.  It's so exciting, humbling, beautiful, to be a part of this amazing group of women.  I am truly blessed.  Truly.  To God be the Glory.  Always.

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