Inspired by WINE, National Catholic Women’s Conference draws 1,200

| Sharon Wilson | November 13, 2017 | 0 Comments

More than 1,200 women from more than 25 states gathered at the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Oct. 21 for the first National Catholic Women’s Conference, under the umbrella of WINE: Women In the New Evangelization.

Based in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, WINE has been gathering a national base after launching in 2014. The women are connected with WINE’s national organization through regional events, local book clubs, memberships, pilgrimages and parish chapters.

The brainchild of WINE’s founder, Kelly Wahlquist, the national conference was the first time dozens of Catholic women’s organizations came under one roof to celebrate Catholic women. Blessed Is She, ENDOW and Rachel’s Vineyard were among sponsoring Catholic women’s groups in attendance.

Kelly Wahlquist poses with Teresa Tomeo at the National Catholic Women’s Conference Oct. 21 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa near Pennsylvania. Women in the New Evangelization (WINE) organized the event. Courtesy WINE

Archbishop Charles Chaput led the day and spoke of the “extraordinary enthusiasm” that the conference brought to the women of Philadelphia and beyond. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia was an event co-sponsor, and “it is not so much what we [the Archdiocese] are doing for the conference, but what it is doing for us,” Archbishop Chaput said.

Patricia Unesta from Erdinhine, Pennsylvania, came to the conference with her sisters as a way for her family to grow closer to each other while growing in their faith.

“We have been on this journey as sisters since our parents became ill,” she said. “We have found that when we are together, we do best when we have a purpose. Conferences like this keep us positive and communicating in a friendly, loving way as we coordinate the care for our parents. The talks help us to focus on what God has done for us in our lives today. It is a real inspiration in a very practical way.”

Wahlquist first approached Meghan Coakley, director of evangelization for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, about co-sponsoring the conference over a year ago. Co-sponsoring the conference is “igniting the women on fire and will have a lasting effect on the women’s ministries locally,” Coakley said.

Themed “Drawn by Love: Sent on Fire,” the conference aimed to inspire people to draw near to God in the Church and sacraments, but then to go out into the world to evangelize. National Catholic speakers Teresa Tomeo, Kitty Cleveland and Sara Christmyer joined Wahlquist in the inspirational talks, while Alyssa Bormes emceed the program. A special appearance was made by Minnesota speaker Deb Hadley.

WINE has started working on the next National Catholic Women’s Conference set for 2020, and it hopes to draw more than 20,000 women in St. Louis as part of its vision.

“WINE is really about lifting all women up in their gifts, and this conference and all of the events couldn’t happen without the work of many women working together,” Wahlquist said. “WINE is run through the time and talent of women all around the country.”

WINE is also hosting a Women, WINE and Wisdom event Dec. 7 in White Bear Lake and the Archdiocesan WINE Catholic Women’s Conference at Mary, Mother of the Church in Burnsville Feb. 10, 2018.

Women interested in helping with any of these events, or to share their talents in planning and executing the National Women’s Conference in 2020, are encouraged to contact Wahlquist at Kelly@CatholicVineyard.com.

For more information about WINE memberships, events and book clubs, visit CatholicVineyard.com.

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