Journey of faith
Sr. M. Margarite. The annual conference of the Military Council of Catholic Women-Europe was hosted this year for the third time at the Marienland Retreat Center on Mount Schoenstatt. Registrations this year reached the unexpected number of 129, with women and priests coming from US Army and Air Force military installations in five different European countries. The majority came from different cities within Germany itself.
Conference for the Military Council of Catholic Women-Europe (MCCW-E) held in Marienland, Mount Schoenstatt, 20-23, October 2011
The Conference was graced with the presence of His Excellency, Auxiliary Bishop F. Richard Spencer of the Archdiocese for the US Military Services. Several Military Chaplains also attended the Conference among them was Rev. Fr. Stephen McDermott, currently serving as a Chaplain in Bamberg, Germany. Two outstanding speakers also inspired the women during the weekend: Carole Brown, who in 2010 completed her doctoral dissertation entitled “Crossing the Threshold Faith: Pope John Paul II’s Approach to the Problem of the Conversion of the Baptized.” Carole currently resides in Dublin, Ireland, where she works as a speech content editor for Ireland’s first national Christian radio station, Spirit Radio; and Jackie François, a full-time speaker, singer/songwriter, and worship leader from Orange County, California.
Come and See…
The theme for the Conference was “Come and See”. These words were the response of Philip to Nathaniel in the Gospel of John (1:46) to the question, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Through the varied and enlightening sessions, group discussions, sermons and breakout sessions that were truly a spiritual banquet, the women were encouraged to refresh and deepen their understanding of being a disciple of Christ. Made newly aware of the fact that God takes the initiative to reveal to us who He is and who we are to Him, tools were offered as means to help strengthen one’s prayer life and surrender to the God of Love and Life. Two examples of these tools were the contemplative meditation of Scriptures in order to discover in them the personal message God wants to give us through Scripture and the understanding of the different stages in the interior life and what our cooperation with grace in these stages should be so that we can advance to a greater union with God. The personal witness stories of Carole Brown and Jackie François in their journey to a personal relationship with Christ as committed Catholic lay women visibly impacted the conference participants and gave them renewed hope and joy in their own journey of faith.
His Excellency, Bishop F. Richard Spencer invited the women to take the role of Philip and help in the ministry to the young adult population to explore their faith and leave behind their religious indifference. The emerging young adults are missing in many faith communities, and all are called to be mentors and disciples who personally invite and walk with young adults in their journey of faith.
Other highlights of the 2011 MCCW-E Conference were daily Mass, daily morning common prayer with a short meditation, Eucharistic Adoration and Procession on Friday evening, and an illuminated Rosary in the Adoration Church on Saturday evening. Guided tours to the Father Kentenich House and the Original Shrine were also offered. On the final evening, the ladies enjoyed a pajama party, during which a silent auction was held: a fund-raiser sponsored by MCCW Worldwide to help support the seminarians of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA – to the joy of all there are currently thirty-four men in formation!
Babies on board!
The board members of MCCW Europe could fulfill one great longing and goal for this year which added a special joy to the annual conference: child care was offered to mothers with babies who wanted to attend the conference–thanks to the efforts of the child care team– nine babies could be at the conference with their young mothers!
Having been the third conference in a row held in Marienland, upon arrival many of the ladies commented, “Coming here is like coming home!” Hopefully these women from the MCCW, just like the young soldier-sodalists, who were the co-founders of Schoenstatt, will always find a true home in the Shrine of the Mother Thrice Admirable.