aimed at women in midlife brought 70 women from 25 parishes together Oct. 21
and 22 at the Hyatt Regency in Fairfax. For women over 40, the first Future
with Hope Conference was tailored for them by Future with Hope Women, a local
group begun by four Catholic women in the Arlington Diocese.
included Patricia Lorenz, author of 14 books including 57 Steps to Paradise:
Finding Love in Midlife and Beyond; Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel and executive director of the
National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing ; and Lisa
Mladinich, author, host of Shalom World TV’s “WOMAN: Strong Faith, True
Beauty,” and founder of AmazingCatechists.com.
“We welcome grandchildren, mourn the loss of loved ones and retrace, over and over again, the mistakes we made earlier in life and secretly question whether the Lord truly can forgive us.” -Colleen Kiko
This is their
first conference, but Colleen Kiko, one of the founders of Future with Hope
Women said, “If the Holy Spirit calls this to be an annual conference, as the
prayer and promotional support we are getting in particular from the Arlington
Diocese Council of Catholic Women seems to indicate, we will be obedient.”
Emily Borman of
Our Lady of Hope Church in Potomac Falls said she was drawn to the conference
because it was aimed at midlife. She said she remembers many opportunities for
formation and fellowship as a young mother, when she wasn’t able to take
advantage of them.
“Now that my
children are in college, it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to gather with
other women for fellowship and encouragement,” said Borman.
Friday about finding love, joy and laughter in midlife. Thorn opened Saturday’s
presentation. Her focus was on finding joy and healing in faith and community
as women come to terms with the physical and emotional wounds they face after
have to have had an abortion to understand how important that message of
healing is to women at this life stage,” said Kiko. “We welcome grandchildren,
mourn the loss of loved ones and retrace, over and over again, the mistakes we
made earlier in life and secretly question whether the Lord truly can forgive
was given an image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Thorn pointed out that the
sheep being carried on Jesus’ shoulders had a different perspective on Jesus.
suffering, this is us, when we’re suffering, we ask where is God. It’s at those
moments that you are so close to God that you can’t see God,” said Thorn. “God
is showing us a different view of the world. We’re being held tenderly, we’re
being held close. It doesn’t mean we’re absolved from talking to the shepherd.
we face is we don’t know where we are wounded,” she said. “We can’t heal what
we don’t know.”
when women spend time with other women there is a chemistry of connection.
“The gift of
this conference is you are all together, and present to each other,” she said.
“Women should leave here with a healing vision.”
afternoon, Mladinich focused on finding true grace in midlife.
of St. Leo the Great Church in Fairfax said it was great to have peer support
on being over 40 with grown children.
underserved age in the church,” she said. “We’re learning how the saints
handled it; meeting peers and seeing how they handle it.”
“We hope each
attendee will leave bathed in the knowledge that the Lord has a hope-filled
future for each of them,” said Kiko. “This is not a new ministry, but rather,
an attempt to connect women with ministries, each other and the Lord.”
Kiko, Paula Hummel, Monica McBrady and Melanie Rigney attended the Edel
Gathering in Charleston, S.C., a conference for young mothers. Kiko said while
the demographic of the conference was a younger generation, it was instrumental
to the foursome for organizing this conference.
on community. Depending on where women are in their lives, what they need from
community changes, according to Kiko.
“We wanted to give women an opportunity to discuss in
person their needs and find out ways they can make friends with others in
similar situations,” she said. “In a word, women need friends and we want to
help them connect.”