The third annual Phoenix Catholic Women’s Conference is aptly themed “Women Walking in Faith.”

Melanie Pritchard, pictured here during a 2010 Life Rally, will speak during this year's Women's Conference. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN FILE PHOTO)
Melanie Pritchard, pictured here during a 2010 Life Rally, will speak during this year’s Women’s Conference. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN FILE PHOTO)

The double meaning refers not just to the Year of Faith, but to how key conference speakers have embraced life’s tragedies and triumphs. They will address Catholic women from across the state during the conference March 16 at St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish in Scottsdale.

The 500 or so others expected to attend the daylong diocesan conference will leave inspired by a few living examples of women who walk by faith.

Melanie Pritchard, a local Catholic speaker and author, and executive director of the Foundation for Life and Love, among other titles, will share how she nearly lost her life through childbirth and how she found hope through suffering.

Renee Bondi, a speaker and author from southern California, refuses to let her wheelchair slow her down. She looks to God to overcome adversity.

“Their examples will show women of all ages how our faith must be strong, so that in both joyful and struggling times, we can continue to walk in faith,” said Rhapsody Canepa, second vice president for the Phoenix Diocesan Council of Catholic Women.

She knows that women are involved in “many, many areas of the Church” and hopes that women remember to put equal effort into improving their own spiritual growth.

“Our hope for the women in attendance this year is that they are truly touched by the speakers and feel the presence of the Holy Spirit.  We as women need to take time for ourselves to get closer to God and to fellowship with other women in good, holy ways and this conference is one way to do that,” Canepa said.

As coordinator of the conference, she hopes women find it to be the boost they need to continue to walk in faith and grow closer to God in big and small ways. Catholic women will also have a chance to support women and families in diocesan boundaries who have taken a literal walk in faith.

The diocesan council of Catholic women will have a drop-off area for donations of house wares or cleaning supplies to support the Refugee Resettlement Program through Catholic Charities. Monetary donations support rent or utility assistance, bus passes and other necessities in helping refugee families establish a new way of life.

Christine Accurso, a local mom and director of 1st Way Pregnancy Resource Center and Fr. Paul Sullivan, diocesan director of vocations, will also address the women. The agenda also allows time for eucharistic adoration and reconciliation. It ends with the parish’s regular 5 p.m. vigil Mass.

Last year attendees came from as far away as St. Germaine in Prescott Valley, Sacaton on the Gila River Indian Community, Payson, Wickenburg and Williams. This year, women can expect a similar variety plus a diocesan women’s choir and an array of vendors. They can also count on adequate space and a suitable sound system.