Last year's inaugural Cleveland Catholic Women's Conference was a huge success, with a capacity crowd of 400 filling the parish hall at St. Basil the Greaet parish in Brecksville and another 200 womens on the waiting list.
“We had such a good turnout that we knew we needed a bigger space,” said Jen Ricard, who helped coordinate the event. She and the committee were deep into planning this year’s conference, scheduled for Oct. 17.
Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Undeterred, they shifted gears and forged ahead with plans for a livestreamed conference. Inspired by the life and writings of St. Therese of Lisieux, this year’s theme is “Simply Holy: Living God’s Will in All Things.”
“One of the conference goals is to create a sense of community for women,” Jen said. “This conference is a bonding event. It’s an opportunity to be connected and grow in faith and love for Christ.”
Women are encouraged to set aside 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 17 to gather in small groups for the conference, “If you feel comfortable enough to do that. Just follow the health and safety guidelines,” she added. “We want this to be an opportunity to hear the speakers, have discussions and share with others.” Conference participants can ask questions and receive answers from the speakers.
Jen said the conference connection will open about 8:30 a.m. and the event will begin with a livestreamed Mass at 9, followed by a short break and two speakers in the morning. After the lunch break, there will be time for praise, worship and Eucharistic Adoration, followed by another speaker. The conference will close at 3 p.m.
SS. Cosmas and Damian Parish in Twinsburg will serve as the headquarters with all activities livestreaming from there. It’s also the first major event for the new livestream equipment that was purchased with funds from the Knights of Columbus media grant awarded to Theology of the Body Cleveland, the nonprofit organization sponsoring the event.
“We know people are hungry to be in community,” Jen said. “We’re trying to make the conference more interactive, fun and meaningful for all.”
During the event, participants will be encouraged to share pictures of their groups that will be shown on the livestream during breaks and possibly during the question and answer sessions.
Care packages — including a workbook and commemorative items — will be sent to those who register by Oct. 1. After that date, people will need to download the workbook. Registration fee is $25 and sponsorships are welcome. Sessions will be recorded and shared with conference participants.