By Deacon Kyle Eller
The Northern Cross
The sixth annual diocesan Women of Faith Conference Feb. 24 at Marshall School in Duluth, centered on the theme “Beyond Me,” will bring in two headline speakers, for the first time including a man.
Father Jim Sichko, a full-time evangelist and preacher who travels the country with storytelling, humor, and music, is one of the Papal Missionaries of Mercy Pope Francis named during the Year of Mercy in 2016 — one of only 100 in the United States. He will be the first speaker, with two talks — “#GiveandReceive” and “Six Steps to Being a Catholic Christian Leader.”
|Father Jim Sichko||Teresa Tomeo|
Closing out the day will be Teresa Tomeo, host of a daily radio talk show called “Catholic Connection” and a well-known speaker and journalist, who will be giving talks called “Beyond Me, My Selfie, and I” and “Beyond Sunday — Being a 24-7 Catholic.”
Hilaire Hauer, who serves on the planning committee for the conference, said there are some other new twists to the event this year too.
“We are so blessed that women throughout the diocese travel the distance to Duluth to share this experience together, and so we thought we would reserve a few hotel rooms so that those who could would have the chance to make a ‘Girls’ Weekend’ out of it,” she said.
That effort has been assisted by the Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery, who are offering rooms at the new Center for Spirituality and Enrichment at a special $50 a night rate.
This year’s women’s conference will offer ample opportunity for prayer, with perpetual adoration throughout the day and the weekend vigil Mass with Bishop Paul Sirba to close the event. Before that, there will be praise and worship featuring local Catholic musician Eric Cyr, who will be debuting a song he composed for the conference.
Father Sichko’s booking came about in a unique way, Hauer said. “How we came to find him was that our conference committee chair experienced a retreat with him in Kansas City, and she was so moved by that experience that she actually called him directly, and he said yes,” Hauer said. “Praise God for these experiences!”
The conference runs from 7:30 a.m. through Mass, which begins at 4:15 p.m. The day also includes opportunities for confession. Cost is $30, with an additional $10 late fee after Feb. 10. (Materials and lunch are also not guaranteed after that date.)
“We have a high level of interest in the conference and it grows each year,” Hauer said. “It’s exciting to see all that is happening throughout the diocese, and it’s amazing to see nearly 500 women making the day of it.”