I recently read “The Way of Trust and Love – A Retreat guided by St Therese of Lisieux. A quote that stood out for me from the book was “God would not inspire us with desires that were unrealisable”. What I understood by this is, if God lays something on your heart – He also provides you with all you need to achieve it. I never would have guessed what He had in store for me when he inspired me to plan a Catholic Women’s Conference this year.
The need for replenishment and being refreshed in the Lord is what inspired me to listen to what I felt the Lord was asking me to undertake. I had no idea what the Lord had in mind for me in totality and what this would entail, but I knew that I needed to be obedient and trust in Him to make the road ahead and path clear. All I had to do was to be a willing vessel and the rest would follow. The result: a God-inspired event was put together by ladies from the Foundation for the Person and Family who shared a common vision. My work and involvement in ST John Paul II’s Theology of the Body had to be the inspiration behind all of it, and so all the talks had to have a St JP II flavor. The title for the Conference reflected the apostolic motto of St John Paul II, “Totus Tuus” – which means completely yours or I surrender. The Totus Tuus Women’s Conference took place on the 27th August 2016 at Our Lady of Cedars Church Hall in Woodmead, Johannesburg.
The spirit of the event was one of joy and unity. In total we were about 120 women in attendance from different parishes, denominations, ages and vocations. Some of the religious Sister’s in attendance were so impressed that it was an event arranged by lay people heeding the call from God to bring women together to be in common dialogue with the Lord and each other. The ladies were treated to a goodie bag on arrival which definitely surprised them all (thanks to our kind sponsors that made this possible and all our spot prizes). The programme consisted of talks by Marie Anne Te Brake (Embracing your feminine genius), Diana Chigumba (Singlehood) and Phindile Ugwu (How to integrate prayer life with your professional life and motherhood). The talks were well received and engaging Q and A sessions followed each talk. What stood out was the level of openness from the participants and the ability for women to nurture and encourage each other on their individual paths. We were treated to the soulful sounds of Catholic musician Carmen Abrahams during our lunch break, which also allowed the ladies to share on their experience for the day with each other or receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The spirit of unity and love ensued and one could not deny the presence of God in the space we were occupying.
After lunch we were blessed with a dance from Christian Dance Fellowship of SA, reflecting the Body of Christ. Our day ended with private reflection during Adoration. One of the participants shared the following on her evaluation sheet : “ Thank you for arranging this conference, which reminded me once again, that I am a loved daughter of God; that I can and have to know more people surrounding me for who they are – so that I can share God’s gifts”. A second participant said” thank you for giving me this opportunity to think of the poor and to be merciful towards them”. This spoke to a request we made to participants to kindly donate either non-perishable items, baby products or feminine hygiene items which will be donated to the Sisters of Charity as St Teresa was one of the patrons of the conference.
At the end of the day and after months of preparation, our planning committee may have had tired hands and feet, by our hearts were gladdened by the success of the day and the request for another conference by practically all the attendees. So with God guiding the way, we hope to plan an annual event.
What I take away from this experience is: it’s amazing what we can achieve when we surrender to Him and trust in Him to make all things possible….no matter how daunting the task ahead may seem. He sees the bigger picture…always.
About Andrina Moodley
Proudly Catholic, TOB enthusiast, Youth worker and mentor, Counsellor, Creative, Observer, Lover of life, Pro- modest dressing, Superpower: uses both left and right brain equally so no clear dominance, i.o.w be afraid haha.