Women's Conference lifts spirits, provides forum for sharing of ideas


PROVIDENCE — After having to cancel last year’s Rhode Island Catholic Women’s Conference event due to the burgeoning pandemic, Michelle Donovan, assistant director of the diocesan Office of Faith Formation, is pleased to be able to host a live in-person event once again.
She said that during the pandemic she heard from so many people that they felt isolated.
“I think we need to be present to each other, we need to pray together and we need fellowship and support for each other so I’m excited to be offering it again,” she said of the Women’s Conference, the fourth in five years since the annual event was launched in 2017.
About 70 women attended the conference on Nov. 6, which began with a morning Mass celebrated by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, followed by a speaking and reflection program downstairs in the cathedral’s hall.
Presenter Liz Cotrupi offered a talk entitled “What is Love?” centered on the overall theme for the conference of vocations and the universal call to holiness and how everyone is called to love, no matter one’s state in life, as part of our mission of evangelization.
Cotrupi’s daughter, Liz Cotrupi Pfunder, offered reflections while playing the guitar and leading the 70 women gathered in song. Cotrupi Pfunder is the parent of a student at St. Pius V School who also works there as a substitute teacher and plays music at the weekly school Mass.
Father Kevin Cook, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Seekonk, Massachusetts, presented the afternoon talk entitled, “Nurturing the Call from the Lord,” which focused on how people can foster vocations to marriage and the religious life in the home. Father Cook also spoke about how the faithful can discern the Lord’s call for their lives and ways they can help other people to discern their vocation.
“I saw an announcement for the conference online and wanted to have a day to spend together with like-minded women,” said Gina Hines, from Uxbridge, Massachusetts.
Hines inspired her friend, Melanie Vargas, a parishioner at Our Lady of Grace in Johnston, to also attend the Women’s Conference.
“I thought it would be a fun time to get together and to Celebrate God,” Vargas said.
Elizabeth Morrissey serves as a catechist at the cathedral parish, where she has been a parishioner —along with her husband — for 47 years.
She has attended Women’s Conferences before and said she finds them to be very instructive and very rewarding personally.
“You keep up to date on what’s going on, you meet with the women and share ideas. We’re lucky to be together to have an opportunity to share ideas.”
Barbara Laberge, a parishioner at St. Eugene Parish in Chepatchet, said she enjoys a spiritual boost from attending the Women’s Conference.
“It’s fuel for our spirit to be with other women who believe in what I believe in, which is Jesus,” she said.


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