When GraceAnne Krajna and her 15-year-old daughter, Faith, attended last year’s Women of Christ Conference, they weren’t sure what to expect. Looking back, both agree that the graces from that faith-filled Saturday live on in their hearts and daily lives – and they’re definitely attending this year’s conference Nov. 4.
Reflecting on last year’s event, GraceAnne said she decided to attend only after a friend suggested they go. That personal “tap on the shoulder” from someone who was just entering the Catholic Church transformed a typical Saturday of running errands into one of sharing her faith with nearly 2,000 other Catholic women from across Wisconsin and beyond.
“I knew nothing about the conference but I said ‘yes’ because a friend invited me,” said GraceAnne. “I told my daughter, ‘We’re going to this.’”
The day proved to be a welcome mother-daughter break from daily life and the parent-teen tensions that can stretch the bounds of patience and understanding. Giving some additional space to Christ for Him to work in their lives was exactly what they needed.
“I was astounded by the size of the event and everything it offered,” GraceAnne said. The pair attended Adoration, walked through the on-site Holy Door for the 2016 Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, listened to inspiring speakers and bought bracelet rosaries at the vendor market. Participating in the concluding Mass celebrated by Archbishop Jerome Listecki along with the Eucharistic procession provided the perfect, grace-filled closure to the day.
At first, Faith admits, she really didn’t want to spend a day at some women’s conference. But, her mom was insistent. Besides, one of her mom’s friends would also be there with her daughter. So Faith, a sophomore at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, went along with an open heart if not a totally open mind. By the end of the day, that open heart was overflowing with the rich gifts of her faith. Certain moments still stand out like they happened yesterday, she said. “At one point, during the Eucharistic procession, I saw Sr. Miriam James Heidland (a speaker at the conference) just quietly drop to her knees before Jesus, and I’ll never forget the feeling that just came over me when I saw that.”
Another highlight for both mother and daughter was the opportunity to go to confession together. More than 60 priests offered their time to WOC, hearing confessions in the many private confessionals set up for the occasion. Waiting in line for their turn, both had an opportunity to reflect on their lives, said GraceAnne. Like any mom and teenage daughter, the two of them had butted heads during the week over little issues.
“When we walked out after reconciliation, we just looked at each other, said we were sorry and cried together,” said GraceAnne. “It was beautiful. Christ gave us that moment, that special bond through the sacrament on that day that meant so much to both of us.”
During the afternoon, hundreds of women joined a rosary procession around the fairgrounds, enjoying the cooperative 70-degree temperature and sunshine. As the procession wound around the grounds, the rhythmic cadence of the women’s voices praying the rosary in unison was shared through the speaker system. Faith was shopping in the vendor market when she heard the prayer. “I just stopped and listened,” said Faith. “It was one of those moments when I just said ‘Wow, that is so beautiful, that is so cool.’”
GraceAnne summed up their day at the conference: “It was about truly knowing Christ is in our lives, every day He’s there for us. It was a chance to be together as women to celebrate our amazing faith and be re-energized in who we are as Catholics.”
Women of all ages will attend the Women of Christ Conference on Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Washington County Fair Park in West Bend, at I-45 and Pleasant Valley Road. The day concludes with Mass celebrated by Archbishop Jerome Listecki. For more information and to register, visit www.womenofchrist.net or call 262-384-8414.