The Women of Christ Conference will be held on Saturday, Nov. 18, at the Brookfield Conference Center. It was held in West Bend for the past 14 years. (File photo)
The Women of Christ Conference has found a new home in Brookfield, where it will be held a couple weeks later than usual.
The new location will host the conference on the third Saturday in November instead of the first Saturday, as had been the case since Women of Christ began in 2007.
The 15th annual conference will take place Saturday, Nov. 18, at the Brookfield Conference Center. The event, which is offered to help women discover what God calls them, had taken place at the Washington County Fair Park in West Bend.
According to Women of Christ President Elizabeth Meier, the changes were unexpected and the result of a communication error. The group needed to act fast to find a place that would accommodate 1,800 to 2,300 women.
“We found out in January, and it was such a surprise to have to move after 15 years that we all believe God must have a special plan for us this year,” she said. “There aren’t very many places that can accommodate our large audience, so our options were limited. Brookfield Conference Center seats 1,800 and happened to be available Nov. 18. It is a lovely facility, and we’ve had a very positive experience with the staff.”
While the date change was unplanned, many women have given positive feedback so far. It may be beneficial that the new date also marks the start of the annual gun deer hunting season, leaving some women with more free time.
“Every woman who has commented on this said it will be easier for them to get away to spend a day at the conference,” said Meier, who is a member of St. Charles Parish, Hartland. “That said, we don’t think Thanksgiving being the following week will be a detriment for most.”
This year’s lineup includes Mary Healy, professor of Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit as well as a bestselling author and international speaker; Sarah Swafford, international speaker and Catholic author; Kendra von Esh, Catholic speaker, radio host, podcaster, vlogger and author; and Fr. John LoCoco, Archdiocese of Milwaukee priest. Lydia LoCoco, Director of Community Relations with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, will serve as the event’s emcee. Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki will celebrate the vigil Mass to conclude the conference. It will be his 13th year serving as the celebrant.
While the Men of Christ Conference continues to use the hybrid style of gathering at individual parishes throughout the country to watch videos of major speakers, Women of Christ participants are happy to gather at a central location and “shed tears of joy” in 2021 when they were able to attend an in-person event.
“We used the hybrid model during COVID, and it was the first ‘in-parish, in-person’ conference. At the time, most other events were online,” Meier said. “We were determined to come up with a way to get the women together for a conference after being isolated for so many months, but there were many restrictions. The Women of Christ board decided to make a retreat in order to discern God’s will for our 2020 conference.”
Meier said they credit the Holy Spirit for providing them with the plan that brought the women together in parishes, while at the same time, helping the archdiocese get them back to Mass in person after Archbishop Listecki lifted the dispensation.
“It was a very exciting time and our three speakers, all local priests, gave incredibly encouraging talks,” she said.
The 2023 Women of Christ Conference will follow a similar format to previous years’ events. There will be five speakers, confessions and Eucharistic Adoration, explained Meier, who is waiting for one possible main speaker to confirm his or her availability.
“We will pray the Rosary and there will be an amazing vendor market, and Archbishop Listecki will celebrate Mass,” she said. “Spending quality time with our sisters in Christ feeds our souls and is always a highlight.”
For more information on the Women of Christ Conference and to register for its mailing list, visit womenofchrist.net.