The 2023 Cleveland Catholic Women’s Conference once again drew rave reviews from the more than 250 women who attended the Oct. 21 event at Magnificat High School in Rocky River.
“Let Yourself be Loved” was the theme of this year’s event, which was presented by Theology of the Body Cleveland. The theme is based on a message shared by St. Elizabeth of the Trinity in a letter to her fellow sisters.
(See photo gallery above.)
“The Cleveland Catholic Women's Day of Reflection is dedicated to enriching the lives of women as they are inspired to grow in relationship with the Lord and each other,” said Jen Ricard, TOB executive director. The agenda featured time for prayer, fellowship with other women and speakers.
Sister Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP, and Rachel Bulman addressed the conference.
Sister Bogdanowicz is one of four foundresses of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She served as vocations director for 25 years and traveled extensively giving talks. Sister Bogdanowicz also write for Catholic publications, leads retreats for students, parishes, priests and seminarians. This year she was assigned as the community’s Eucharistic Revival and Marian Revival preacher.
Bulman, a national speaker and author, is married to a permanent deacon. She has served as an editor for Word on Fire and appeared on numerous podcasts and radio shows.
Music was provided by Elizabeth Gonzalez and the band Sanctuary that she formed with two of her brothers.
The conference opened with Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael Woost, who connected his homily to the event theme and the poems of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity and the impact she has had on his faith. Father Damian Ference, vicar for evangelization and head of the diocesan Parish Life and Special Ministry office, concelebrated.
After Mass, attendees had a chance to mingle with the bishop, pose for photos and have items blessed before heading to the cafeteria area for a light breakfast and discussion. Sister Bogdanowicz addressed the group after breakfast. Next on the agenda was lunch followed by confessions and adoration until 2 p.m. Bulman spoke at the afternoon session, which was followed by questions and answers and closing prayer.
Father Joe Menkhaus, parochial vicar at St. Bernadette Parish in Westlake and one of the 13 priests who assisted with confessions, also presided at the holy hour. He shared a song he wrote during a difficult time in his life, “Let Yourself be Loved,” which was based on St. Elizabeth of the Trinity’s poem and which served as this year’s conference theme.
Conference attendees received a black canvas tote bag featuring the logo and 2023 theme. The bag was filled with goodies including a rosary, a copy of the Magnificat and a hand sanitizer from Holy Hands (Manus Sanctae) that smells like incense.
Ricard credited the numerous event sponsors, including top tier sponsors Catholic radio station The Rock AM 1260, Zelie’s Home, Catholic Cemeteries Association, Holy Hands, Veranova Health and Magnificat.
This year, the event also had about 20 parish partners who made a donation to help support the conference.
“We’re starting to plan for next year’s conference,” Ricard said, noting event organizers have learned a lot since the first conference in 2018. She noted the conference as moved around the diocese so more people have easier access to the event. Speakers and locations are under review for the 2024 event. “Since we were at a west side location this year, we may look for a more central spot next year,” she added.
Ricard encouraged women to watch the conference website for information and updates on the 2024 event.