Workshop urges women to share their gifts

by Moira Cullings
moira.cullings@theleaven.org

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Women in the archdiocese have a special chance to celebrate what St. John Paul II called their “feminine genius” at the upcoming GIVEN conference Feb. 11.

Organized by Dani Bell and Katrina Even, GIVEN is a one-day conference for women ages 18-35 focused on helping them understand the unique gifts they have to offer the church and the world.

“With this in mind,” said Bell, “we hope to provide an environment in which a woman can realize and embrace the unique, individual qualities and characteristics that God has given her.

“Through this, we hope she will be more confident in sharing her gifts with the world.”

The conference, which will be held at St. Mark Church in Independence, Missouri, is an outgrowth of the original GIVEN forum, which was hosted by the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR) last summer in Washington, D.C.

Both Bell and Even attended and were moved to share what they learned.

“As part of our attendance at that conference, we were commissioned to share our gifts and hearts with the community around us,” said Bell.

“We both had incredibly powerful experiences at the conference and heard the Holy Spirit asking us to give more women the opportunity to experience a deeper understanding of who they are and how they are called to love,” she said.

The name “GIVEN,” organizers believe, sets the tone for the themes of the conference.

“The church so beautifully shows us that we are made to be given to others, as Christ gave himself for us,” said Bell.

“And we hope to give the women who attend a better understanding of the gifts they’ve been given and empower them to better give of themselves to the church and to the world,” she added.

The three themes of the day — “Receive the gift that you are,” “Realize the gifts that you have been given,” and “Respond with the gift that only you can give” — represent the three takeaways organizers hope attendees gain from participating.

“We hope that each woman who attends will receive, in the depths of her heart, an understanding of how much she is loved by her Father,” said Even, “how much she is cherished by the church, how necessary she is to the world, and the fact that she has a specific and unique role that no one else can fulfill.”

The conference will open with registration and breakfast at 7:30 a.m., followed by an opening prayer by Bishop James V. Johnston of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

The rest of the day will include talks by women religious and priests, Mass and lunch, and will conclude with closing remarks and a prayer of entrustment to Mary by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann between 3:30 and 4 p.m.

This is the first event of its kind since the original conference in Washington, D. C., but hopefully not the last.

“It is our hope and the hope of the CMSWR communities that these types of conferences will pop up in other cities and eventually the large forum will be able to happen again,” said Even.

More information and registration can be found online.

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