December 6, 2012
|Johnette Benkovic, keynote speaker at the Women's Conference 2012: "A call to transform the world," speaks to a group of women attending the conference. Benkovic is a renowed Catholic speaker, author and retreat present. She is also a host for EWTN television and radio shows.(Photo by Donna Rychaert/NTC)|
The Diocese of Fort Worth’s first Diocesan Bilingual Woman’s Conference held Nov. 17 at St. Joseph Parish in Arlington, gave women from throughout the diocese the opportunity to learn about the Church’s teaching on true womanhood and authentic Christian femininity. The day-long conference began with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin Vann, before English and Spanish speakers parted for a day filled with presentations in their own languages led by local and nationally-renowned speakers.
Chris Vaughan, diocesan director of Marriage and Family Life, stressed the importance of reaching out to various groups in the diocese at conferences such as these.
“Since our diocese is very diverse, we try to make sure we cater to both English and Spanish speakers when we do events,” said Vaughan. “We wanted to make sure that we had something equal to what we were doing in English for the Spanish-speaking.”
The theme of the conference was “You too go into my vineyard,” from Matthew 20:4. Each speaker targeted this topic, focusing on the call of Jesus. Spanish presenters included Aurora Tinajero, Hispanic coordinator for the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of Dallas, and Father José Álvarez, CORC, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Fort Worth. Featured guests were the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, presenting for both English and Spanish-speaking audiences.
The primary keynote speaker for the English session was Johnnette Benkovic, a renowned Catholic speaker, author, and retreat presenter. A host for EWTN television and radio shows, she is the founder and president of Living His Life Abundantly International Inc. and Women of Grace.
Benkovic approached her presentations in the light of the gift of authentic femininity. She said women can make God’s presence known through their gifts and talents.
“They have been chosen and sent,” Benkovic said, “and He desires to use their influence, effect, and power in our day, to save humanity from falling and to save the peace of the world. I am hoping that through the gift of the Holy Spirit,” that these women of God will see that, “this is their own personal call and mission, as they set off to go into the vineyard the Lord has prepared for them.”
|Sister Maria Silva from the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, presented primarily for the Spanish-speaking audience. (Photo by Donna Rychaert/NTC)|
Sister Maria Silva, OP, from the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, presented primarily for the Spanish-speaking audience. She used examples from Church documents to tell her listeners that God desires heaven for everyone.
“The theme of the conference is ‘You too go into my vineyard,’ which is really a call for holiness. It’s not just limited to religious and to priests, but it’s a call for everyone,” said Sr. Maria Silva, OP.
St. Joseph parishioner Dolores Sutton said God’s presence was apparent as Benkovic lectured. “We’re a community and God’s love is everywhere,” said Sutton. “I just felt it throughout the whole talk that she’s touched hearts.”
Thirteen year-old Emma Klee, also a parishioner at St. Joseph, said seeing the sisters helped her to consider a religious vocation and understand available opportunities within religious orders.
“I’ve considered being a religious, but this helps me because if I become a nun, I want to be a Dominican,” said Klee.
Karen Wyatt, a parishioner at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Carrollton, said Benkovic reminded her that her faith must be first. “I think it helped me to look at what I could do differently going forward, and to make a change in the way my life is now,” said Wyatt.
Benkovic also expressed words of wisdom for readers of the North Texas Catholic who could not attend the conference.
“Our Father God is all about blessing them with a special grace,” she said, “I would encourage women to keep their hearts open wide to receive what God wants to give them, and to keep their spiritual eyes and ears opened,” so they might be open to receive the grace that “has the capacity to transform them and to transform the world.”
The Diocese of Fort Worth’s first Diocesan Bilingual Woman’s Conference held Nov. 17 at St. Joseph Parish in Arlington, gave women from throughout the diocese the opportunity to learn about the Church’s teaching on true womanhood and authentic Christian femininity.