Speakers named for March 1 Behold conference for women

Behold, a Catholic conference on “the dignity and vocation of women,” is growing again.

Not only are 800 women expected at the next gathering, which will be held Saturday, March 1, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Embassy Suites in East Peoria, but there will be more keynote speakers. Among them is Mother Assumpta Long, OP, one of the founders of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, who spoke at the first Behold Conference in 2010.

Joining her will be Jeremy Rivera of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), who will be the first man to address the conference. An award-winning speaker and writer, he left the Catholic Church and was active in several Protestant churches for a time before engaging in a series of conversations with Archbishop Charles Chaput, then of the Archdiocese of Denver. Rivera credits him with “loving me back into the church.”

Participants will also hear from Mary Rice Hasson, an attorney who is a fellow in the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Catholic Studies Program in Washington, D.C. She has co-authored a study on media ratings and writes for numerous outlets and websites, including her own blog, “Words from Cana.”

Rounding out the roster is Deirdre Folley, a young wife and new mother from the Washington, D.C., area, who volunteers as a counselor and public speaker for her local pregnancy resource center. She is a 2011 graduate of The Catholic University of America, where she studied philosophy and was president of Students for Life. Along with her sisters, she contributes to her mother’s blog, “Like Mother, Like Daughter.”

Singer, songwriter and instrumentalist Marie Miller will return to perform at the conference. Proficient on the guitar, piano and mandolin, she was recently announced as an opening act for the Backstreet Boys.

The Behold Conference started in the basement of St. Mary Church in Metamora with 100 participants. In 2011, it drew 450 women to Five Points in Washington, and in 2012 nearly 600 women flocked to Embassy Suites.

“A team of more than 150 volunteers come together to prepare and host this conference,” according to Rose Marie Rudolph, executive director for the Behold Conference and its sponsoring organization, Behold Catholic Women’s Ministries. “We want Behold to be a ‘spiritual spa day’ for the women who come, and our volunteers work hard and thoughtfully to make it special.”

Eucharistic adoration and the sacrament of reconciliation will be available throughout the day and Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, will celebrate the conference Mass.

“Behold 2014 will literally offer something for everyone,” Rudolph said. “We are continually touched by the outpouring of stories we hear from women who attend and how the day has literally changed their lives.”

Topics are appropriate for women who are high school age and older. Nursing infants are welcome.

Registration is $75, but those who register by Jan. 6 will receive a discounted rate of $60. The cost includes conference materials, breakfast and lunch. Checks made payable to Behold Catholic Women’s Ministries may be mailed to Behold Registration, P.O. Box 774, Metamora, IL 61548. To register online, visit the Behold website.

For more information, call (309) 222-7138 or follow The Behold Conference on Facebook.

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