Leah Darrow, a former model, will give the keynote address at the Feb. 21 Women's Conference.
Leah Darrow, a former model, will give the keynote address at the Feb. 21 Women’s Conference.

In today’s glamor-obsessed culture, discovering real beauty can prove illusive. Leah Darrow, a former model who starred on America’s Next Top Model, wants women to learn what genuine beauty is.

“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, who is now a Catholic author and speaker, will give the keynote address at the Feb. 21 women’s conference at Xavier College Preparatory. The annual conference, now in its fifth year, draws hundreds of women from parishes throughout the Diocese of Phoenix.

Rhapsody Canepa, president of the Phoenix Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, the group that organizes the event, hopes to snag more young attendees this time around.

“We’re adding a break out session for women ages 16 – 22,” Canepa said. “Leah will be speaking to them about modesty and looking at ourselves in a different way — different from the way society does.”


Women’s Conference

When: 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Feb. 21

Where: Xavier College Preparatory
4710 N. 5th Street, Phoenix

Info: (602) 471-1944

Register: by mail or online


The theme for this year’s conference is “That which is True, Beautiful and Good,” and an array of speakers will take up the topic from various vantage points. Ruth Ristow, an artist who creates sacred icons, will speak of her conversion experience.

“She found her conversion through doing art for the Church,” Canepa said. “Ruth will tell us how we as Catholics can see the beauty of art.”

As in previous years, women will be able to shop at vendors’ tables featuring unique Catholic T-shirts, books and gift items. Other tables will represent various local apostolates and organizations such as First Way Pregnancy Center.

Leila Miller, a local mother of eight and popular Catholic blogger, will also speak at the conference. She said her talk, “You Can Handle the Truth,” will provide practical tips about sharing the faith.

“I’m going to give some examples from real life of how average, everyday Catholic women can reach people with the truth in a way that is not threatening but invites them to be more curious or attracted to the faith,” Miller said. “I don’t think the average person knows a lot of people are really searching for truth. We have to find ways to reach them.”

The conference begins with a continental breakfast and features a series of talks, confession and lunch. The day closes with a vigil Mass celebrated by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix.