When you look out across the crowd at the Lausche Building on conference day, it’s a pretty impressive sight; even for myself as I have been intimately involved with the planning process. What amazes me the most is to see the transformation of a cinder-block building into a beautiful house of worship, filled with women from across the state of Ohio, praising God together and learning more about their faith. What is even more amazing, is that it is the fruit of many hours of labor, all by an incredible team of volunteers! That is right, did you know that not one person on our planning team gets paid for their work? We all do this for the love of the Church and Evangelization. Do you know what else? None of us are professional conference planners! We are wives, mothers, sisters and daughters. We are business owners, physical therapists, sales reps, nurses, DREs, flight attendants and lawyers (just to name a few). We live all over central Ohio from as far north as Sunbury and as far south as Circleville. We have been called to this ministry to serve our sisters in Christ and God places the right people on our team that have the gifts and talents we need to make the Conference the day He wants it to be.
The Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference was started in 2007 by Christina Klein and a group of women from St. Andrew’s parish in Upper Arlington who were reading Johnette Benkovic’s Women of Grace Study. With the prompting of Fr. Michael Watson, their pastor, the question of “Why isn’t there a Catholic Women’s Conference?” became turned into “Why don’t you start a Catholic Women’s Conference?” Christina gathered her bible study group along with a few other friends, and with guidance from the Catholic Men’s Conference and Bishop Campbell, began planning the first annual conference. The first conference was well-attended with over 1000 women. Last year, our fifth annual conference, had record attendance of 1704 women.
Today our team consists of a board of directors who meet monthly to help steer the team in the right direction. This year, our board is co-chaired by two amazing women from St. John Neumann in Sunbury, Gretchen Hofer & Michele Niklaus. Gretchen and Michele led the host parish of St. John Neumann last year and have graciously stepped up to fill the position of conference co-directors left by Christina Klein, who started the CCWC. The Board members are pictured above – Pamela Schaal of St. Mary’s German Village, Michelle Biagi of St. Joan of Arc, JoAnn Wilson of St. Andrew, Michele Faehnle of St. Agatha, Lisa Schechter of St. Andrew, Michele Niklaus & Gretchen Hofer.
Our planning committee also meets monthly and is comprised mainly of our awesome host team parish members from St. John Neumann. However, multiple parishes are represented on our team. These women fill roles from the food committee, logistics, liturgy, registration, reconciliation, promotion, marketing, signage, sponsorship, parking, hospitality, t-shirt and CD sales, greeters and ushers, among many other responsibilities. Pictured above are Christine Zaremba, Susan Rizek, Collette Davis, Pamela Schaal, Lisa McKeivier, JoAnn Wilson, Mary Beth Poe, Michelle Biagi, Lisa Schechter, Rachel Smith, Rosemary Finneran, Heather Matteson, Michele Niklaus, Anita Cochran, Gretchen Hofer, Megan Price, Joann Hingsbergen, Sarah Hingsbergen & Renee Brehm. Not pictured are team members Karen Ambrose, Katie Baranek, Marianne Bruening, Lori Cain, Angie Dado, Brianna Dado, Jenny Elicson, Angel Gravit-Schneider, Maria Guiterrez, Rosemary Halter, Pam Hamann, Barbara Jelinek, Tracy Jelinek, Trudy McClasky, Christi McLean, Julie Naporano, Mindi Pallone, Sharon Silleck, Mary Smith, Sue Stalter, Carol Stefaniak, Christina Stetson, Jackie Sutton, Christine Szczesny, Suzi Walton, Linda Washburn, Christina Weber, Jody White & Saundra Woodruff.
Our conference team extends into the parish level with 72 parish representatives who help promote the conference within their parish and get the word out. We also have a “Breakfast Team” who plans our annual spring breakfast with local speakers.
As you can see, it’s quite a team and our ministry would not be complete without each and every member! Want to be part of the team? We can always use volunteers, especially to help us set up the day before our event (February 22nd). Contact our volunteer coordinator, Anita Cochran at firstname.lastname@example.org to join us!