Upcoming conferences designed to strengthen Catholic men, women

Leah Darrow and Peter Kreeft are two among a lineup of presenters who will inspire Catholic women and men at respective conferences Feb. 21 and March 21.
Leah Darrow and Peter Kreeft are two among a lineup of presenters who will inspire Catholic women and men at respective conferences Feb. 21 and March 21.

Men and women have vital, but unique roles in God’s plan for salvation. That’s why local Catholic leaders organize conferences aimed at each of them.

The diocesan women’s and men’s conferences will be held a month apart at Xavier College Preparatory. Women will gather Feb. 21 and men March 21 to learn from a series of guest speakers how to overcome secular temptation and be the men and women God created them to be.

Real truth, beauty

Discovering real beauty can prove elusive in today’s glamor-obsessed culture. Leah Darrow, a former star of “America’s Next Top Model,” will help women across the Diocese of Phoenix find genuine beauty during her keynote address.

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5th Annual Phoenix Catholic Women’s Conference

When: 8 a.m.–6 p.m. Feb. 21
Where: Xavier College Preparatory (map)
4710 N. 5th St., Phoenix
Cost: $60, age 16-22, $25 with ID
Info: pdccw.com or (602) 471-1944[/quote_box_right]

“If we allow beauty to be guided by its Creator we find that it empowers us to serve in love,” Darrow told The Catholic Sun. “Women play a pivotal role in revealing God’s beauty to others in a way that inspires and empowers the gift of love and service.”

Darrow’s voice should be familiar to local youth. She spoke to students at two Catholic high schools and the Holy Trinity Newman Center in Flagstaff last fall. She’ll once again teach youth about modesty during a brand-new break out session at this year’s conference. It’s aimed at women ages 16-22.

Two other guest speakers will offer their take on the conference theme, “That which is True, Beautiful and Good.” Ruth Ristow, an artist who creates sacred icons, will share her conversion and how Catholics can see the beauty of art. Leila Miller, a local mother of eight and popular Catholic blogger, will present, “You Can Handle the Truth,” which provides practical tips about sharing the faith in a way that invites curiosity.

Both conferences are expected to draw hundreds of women and men from parishes throughout the diocese. Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted will offer a closing liturgy at each gathering.

‘Men for all seasons’

The diocesan men’s conference will feature a six-pack variety of quests including both Phoenix bishops and Fr. John Parks, a high school chaplain who also spent time in parish life.

Three men who juggled domestic churches of their own while pursuing secular work will also speak. It was a Catholic men’s retreat with St. Anne Parish in Gilbert that profoundly changed Tom Peterson’s priorities and outlook on life 18 years ago. The founder of Virtue Media and Catholics Come Home — whose “evangomercials” have led nearly half a million souls home to the Catholic Church — will address conference-goers.

Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Phoenix, which organizes the annual gathering, lists 22 men’s groups across the Valley plus one in Maricopa. Many of them plan to attend the diocesan conference.

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2015 Catholic Men’s Conference

When: 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m. March 21
Where: Xavier College Preparatory (map)
4710 N. 5th St., Phoenix
Cost: $56.50 with discounts for groups and students
Info: cmfp.org or (602) 510-7507[/quote_box_right]

“There needs to be a place where men can talk about their successes and failures at life,” said Michael Vollmer, director of development and stewardship at San Francisco de Asís Parish in Flagstaff.

He is facilitating a new book-based discussion group for men seeking to adapt Jesus’ leadership style both at home and in the workplace. It starts with knowing Jesus, he said, and setting priorities with God first, then family before work and play.

That’s a strategy Ric Serrano took over two years ago when, as president and chief executive officer of Serrano’s Mexican Restaurants, he decided to close all seven restaurant locations on Sundays to help workers and patrons honor the Sabbath and be with their families. Serrano will give a talk as will Dr. Peter Kreeft.

The philosophy professor at Boston College, family man and author of 75 books covering theology, the culture war, kids and relating to God, will discuss theology of the body.

— By Joyce Coronel and Ambria Hammel, The Catholic Sun.