At “spiritual spa day,” women urged to “give God permission”

By: By Nancy Piccione

METAMORA — “Give God permission” to use you powerfully in the world, more than 100 women were told at a first-time conference on April 17.

The Behold Conference at St. Mary’s Parish here was a “spiritual spa day” for women of all ages, according to conference organizer Rose Marie Rudolph.

Speakers at the conference were Mother Assumpta Long, founder of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, and veteran broadcast journalist Teresa Tomeo, host of shows on EWTN and Ave Maria Radio.

“Our role as women is so vitally important that we need all the help we can get,” said Mother Assumpta in her talk, “With Mary at the Foot of the Cross.”

“Our greatest help outside of Christ is Mary,” she said.

Mother Assumpta told the story of Mother Teresa encouraging Cardinal John J. O’Connor of New York with the words, “Give God permission.”

“I think if we take Mother Teresa’s words, just think what that means — ‘Okay, God, I give you permission to do with me whatever you will,'” said Mother Assumpta. “That takes a gutsy woman.”

The day included a generous breakfast and lunch for the women, the opportunity for confession and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and a Mass celebrated by Father Don Roszkowski, pastor of St. Mary’s.

The conference grew out of the January 2010 meeting of First Ten, a mentorship group at the parish where newly married women are helped and encouraged by other married women. First Ten features monthly meetings for fellowship and education on a variety of topics. Members of the group, led by First Ten founder Rudolph and member Bonnie Engstrom, organized and planned the Behold Conference.

“We hope that the women went home with renewed joy in their vocation as women, greater appreciation for the profound love Our Lord has for them, and fresh ideas for growth in the spiritual life,” said Rudolph.
Engstrom affirmed the need for women to gather and enjoy each other’s company.

“Having been involved in FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) and various Newman Centers in our diocese, I know the power and joy of being surrounded by a group of like-minded women as we celebrate our femininity and grow in our love of God and Church.”

Tomeo, in her talk “Handmaids of the Lord,” told the story of how she lived away from her faith for many years, and the relief and joy she felt in discovering how the truths of the Catholic faith are designed for our happiness.

“Take the time to see why She (the Church) teaches what she teaches,” Tomeo told the women. “We as women need to reclaim the culture.”
She also reflected on “10 Things I’ve Learned about Living a Godly Life,” focusing on Catholic and “Italian mother” wisdom, as Tomeo imitated her beloved New Jersey Italian mother.

“Don’t just do something — sit there,” was one of Tomeo’s 10 admonitions, and she pointed out the need for time for reflection and stillness to be effective in any vocation. “We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

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Editor’s note: Photos from the conference can be found on The Catholic Post’s Facebook page.

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