Women in the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown will gather next weekend for spiritual renewal and insight at its second women's conference in five years.
Carol Galioto, a coordinator of the conference, said it will be a day for women to come together to share their stories and their faith.
"As sisters in Christ, we are called to love one another," she said. "What better way to do that than to come together to praise and worship our God with one another?" she asked.
Woman from the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown get acquainted during the morning gathering at the first women’s conference held five years ago
The conference will be held at 9 a.m. May 15 at Mount Aloysius College in Cresson. Registration is at 8 a.m.
The theme is "Our Hearts are Burning" and is based on the story told in Luke 24: 13-35. Two disciples are talking to the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus and only recognize him when they break bread together. One of the disciples says, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"
Galioto hopes the daylong event will help women recognize their talents and confirm that God is always with them.
If you go
What: Catholic Women of the Alleghenies Conference
When: 8 a.m. May 15
Where: Cosgrave Hall, Mount Aloysius College, Cresson
Cost: $25 includes lunch
To register: Visit www.ourlady
ofthealleghenies.com. Registrations will be accepted at the conference.
"Catholic women often feel as if they are on the perimeter of the church," she said. "A lot of faithful and holy women are waiting to be asked to serve."
Anita Bertuzzi of Portage, who attended the previous conference in 2005, said, "It is refreshing to know that Jesus Christ is always there for you, that the Holy Spirit is there for you through all experiences. To know God's goodness and mercy. The speakers reinforce that."
One speaker will offer ways attendees can serve and the other will tell of a personal journey that led to experiencing God's presence on a regular basis.
Leisa Anslinger, a full-time writer and speaker from Indianapolis, will talk to the women about stewardship and discipleship.
"Disciples are people who make a conscious decision to follow Jesus Christ and learn our Lord's ways," she said. She said disciples recognize that "everything we are and everything given to us comes from God and out of gratitude give that back to him - that's stewardship."
She will give practical ways women can serve God and others.
She said stewardship varies depending on what life stage one is in.
For a young mother, it might be to realize the responsibilities and beauty of being a mom. She said when she and her husband were raising their children, they agreed that only one spouse could be involved in parish ministry at a time. She said as the children got older, they gave of themselves and the family matured and grew in their spiritual lives together.
Anslinger gives talks at 40 to 45 dioceses a year.
She said about two-thirds of her talks are to parish staff and about one-third to parishioners.
She writes a regular column for Ministry and Liturgy Magazine and previously served as director of guidance for a Catholic high school and a pastoral associate for 12 years at a parish in Cincinnati.
Debi Byham, a junior high art teacher from Latrobe, will share about her journey to Medjugorje, Bosnia, and what she calls her "incredible experience" there.
Byham suffered from depression for 27 years after a vehicle accident took the lives of her best friend and two other people.
It was Byham's godmother (her aunt) who believed Byham would find peace in the village where five children said the Virgin Mary appeared to them in 1981.
"An incredibly miraculous thing happened while I was there," she said.
Since her pilgrimage in 1997, Byham has been free of depression and has written 19 journals about her life that she calls "God stories."
She said when she was in counseling, she was urged to write her down her experiences, but she never could.
"To buy a book was too much work. I never wrote a word," she said.
"Now I see God's hand in every part of my life," she said.
Seeing God in other people's lives is another aspect of the conference.
"The fellowship the whole day with other Christian woman is uplifting," Bertuzzi said.
Theresa Orosz of Northern Cambria said, "All these women get together to praise God for one day. It's just amazing," she said.
Galioto said the women also have an opportunity to get acquainted with others when they exchange names for prayer partners.
The conference will include time for socializing, a luncheon, a time for meditation and praise and worship by Living Praise, a female choral group from Steubenville, Ohio.
Bishop Joseph V. Adamec will celebrate Mass to conclude the day.