Catholic women invited to ‘Encounter Christ’  at Oct. 23 event

By Nancy Huffaker

The first of the four Syracuse Catholic Women’s Mini-Conferences of 2021 has already happened, but women from across the Diocese of Syracuse have three remaining opportunities this fall to gather in faith, receive the sacraments and hear inspirational talks. The next will be held Saturday, Oct. 23, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Syracuse’s Westside.

“Encountering Christ” is the theme for all of the half-day retreats, with a different presentation and speaker at each event. Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, O.P., S.T.D., will offer the reflection at the basilica. Her talk, “Suffering and the Narrative of Redemption,” explains that the mystery of suffering is so deep and difficult to grasp that we need to use real-life stories of human suffering to help illumine the mystery.

Elaborating on this idea, she continues, “In the Gospels, Christ takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it and gives it to His disciples. Likewise, we are taken out of this world of materialism and secularism, and are abundantly blessed with families, the sacraments, the communion of saints and even the wealth of our country. But we are also broken. Every single human being has had the experience of being broken. What do we do with this feeling of suffering?” Sister Jane Dominic hopes that conference attendees will discover how suffering can unite us to Christ.

A member of the St. CeciliaCongregation of Dominican Sisters of Nashville, Tenn., Sister Jane Dominic has been involved in their teaching apostolate for over 15 years. She received her doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, Italy, and has taught at Aquinas College and the University of Dallas. She currently teaches the newest sisters in her religious community, whose love of God and desire for holiness she finds inspiring and renewing. Her love of teaching goes beyond the classroom, as evidenced by her involvement in community-outreach programs and her work on her community’s book.

At the University of Dallas, she created and directed the Studies in Catholic Faith and Culture program, which can be used at parishes to inspire discussion and build Catholic community. The program utilizes the expertise of professors in multiple disciplines including philosophy, history, literature and art to help people realize the depth and breadth of the riches of Catholic tradition and develop a more Catholic understanding of the world.

Sister Jane Dominic also served as the editor-in-chief of her congregation’s book, A Short Guide to Praying as a Family, designed by the Dominican Sisters. It provides concrete steps to build prayer into the busy routines of daily life. The suggestions range from basic to advanced, so they can be customized to suit each family’s needs.

In August 2021, Sister celebrated the 25th anniversary of her profession of vows. She offered this insight: “Even though I see how our culture is changing at an ever faster rate, God’s Word is ever new. The desire for truth, beauty and goodness can never be blotted out.”

The mini-conference on Oct. 23 will begin with recitation of the rosary followed by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with Bishop Douglas J. Lucia as the main celebrant and Father Thomas I. Ward as concelebrant. Additionally, there will be opportunities to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, adore our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy together. Light refreshments will be served.

Two events in November 

The next mini-conference is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 6 (rescheduled from Sept. 11), at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Binghamton, featuring presenters Sister Briege McKenna and Father Pablo Escriva de Romani. Msgr. Stephen Rossetti will speak at the final event on Saturday, Nov. 13, at St. Joseph–St. Patrick Church in Utica.

Come encounter Christ with fellow faithful Catholic women. Doors open at 8 a.m. and each mini-conference runs from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  Preregistration is $15 and walk-in registration is $20. Visit or mail registration and check to Diocese of Syracuse, 240 E. Onondaga St., Syracuse, NY 13202.

  Nancy Huffaker is a member of the diocese’s Commission on Women in Church and in Society.

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