From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Convocation of Northwest Catholic Women draws thousands to Seattle

by Donna Hanson, for the Inland Register

(From the May 24, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)

“Tending the Sacred Fire” was the theme of the Northwest Convocation of Catholic Women held at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle April 26-28. The Convocation was sponsored by the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in Region XV.

The Convocation gathers women to celebrate the many ways God lives and moves in our lives: “As faith-filled women, we join together for prayer, ritual and story; education and empowerment; celebration and transformation. Affirmed in our spirituality, we work for justice in our church and in our world.”

At the opening session, we learned that among the 2,000 women gathered, 250 were from Oregon, 38 from Idaho, 59 from Montana, seven from Alaska, one from France, approximately 100 from the Spokane Diocese, and 10 Northwest colleges and universities were represented.

Over 200 table facilitators joined the 500 volunteers who worked the past 18 months planning the Convocation. Thanks to the sponsoring community and generous supporters, every woman who applied for a scholarship to attend was included.

Diana L. Hayes, PhD, Associate Professor of Theology at Georgetown University, spoke at one of the three sessions about the African-American spirituality which has always kept “an eye on God.” Reminding us that their culture is marked by community, it embraces the pre-born and those who have gone before us. Quoting St. Augustine, she reminded us that the virtue of hope has two beautiful daughters: anger at the way things are, and courage to make them different.

Noting that “humanity gone wild” describes us, Dr. Hayes asked, who is to blame? In response to her own question, she placed the blame on “all of us” because we have abandoned our stories and songs; we have failed to love our children.

Dr. Hayes reminded us that while the disciples were small in number, they were large in commitment; “they became drunk with the power of God’s grace.” If we are to be “weavers of our future tapestry, we must reclaim our spirituality for it is the salve that can heal and transform. We must restore our sense of community, cherish all life and fan the flame of hope in our world.”

Other plenary session speakers included Sister Marie Chin of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, and Edwina Gateley, founder of Genesis House, a home for women involved in prostitution in Chicago.

Numerous workshops were also scheduled throughout the two-day gathering.

Some of the Spokane participants had comments about the Convocation:

  • From Sister Kathleen Reynolds, religious educator at St. Joseph Parish in Colbert: “It was challenging and transforming for me to remember that God is real and engaging us to be the presence bringing love to others.”
  • Sonja Devaney: “It was inspirational. I will walk away with the Holy Spirit helping me pass it on to the entire St. Joseph community.”
  • Maggie Albo, member of the Spokane Diocesan Pastoral Council and St. Mary Parish, Spokane: “It was one of the most enriching things I have ever done.”
  • Author and teacher Kathy Finley: “It was a treat from start to finish; it was like having two days of dessert.”
  • Mary Ann Marciel, former Catholic school principal and St. Anne Children and Family Center Director: “It felt like being lifted up on eagle’s wings.”
  • Annie Trunkle Smart, Youth Director in Lind and surrounding areas: “Awesome! Life-giving! Empowering!”

(Donna Hanson is Bishop’s Secretary for Social Ministries in the Diocese of Spokane and Diocesan Director of Catholic Charities.)

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