By Katherine Long | Editor
Morgan Durfee wasn’t even planning to go to the 2014 Syracuse Catholic Women’s Conference. But a free ticket to the conference changed her plan — and her experience there changed her life.
A transplant from Pennsylvania, the new Ithaca College graduate was working as the Booking Manager for Hard as Nails Ministries in Syracuse when the ticket came her way. She loves hearing speakers and attending conferences, she said. “My faith was ignited in high school. One of the things that ignited it was the Steubenville conference,” held at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Durfee said.
She also had a powerful experience meeting members of the Sisters of Life at World Youth Day in Madrid the summer before her freshman year of college. There was “a little spark,” Durfee recalled, and she began to think about the possibility of religious life. She spent the next several years praying to discern God’s plan for her — a vocation to marriage or to religious life — and at one point was looking into becoming a religious sister. As Durfee arrived at the conference, she had fully opened herself to both paths and was waiting for Jesus to show her the way.
“I quickly found what I longed for wrapped up in the vocation of marriage,” Durfee said.
Catholic speaker, author, and mother Kimberly Hahn — wife of Catholic author and teacher Dr. Scott Hahn — offered the first presentation. “She had a great talk,” Durfee recalled. Hahn said “that marriage was like an embrace with the cross, and that’s something that I knew I wanted,” Durfee said. “In that instant, I knew, wow, I am called to this life,” she added.
The talk left Durfee feeling “like a truck hit me, in a good way,” she said. Not only did she know she was called to married life, she said, she felt she knew the man to whom she was called — a new acquaintance she’d made through her volleyball team. After Hahn’s talk, Durfee made her way to the chapel. “The rest of the day, my prayers changed,” she said.
Three years later, Durfee is living out the vocation she discerned with the help of her experience at the conference, married to that friend from the volleyball team. Morgan and Daniel Durfee are newlyweds, just married at St. Patrick’s Church in Chittenango in August.
Morgan Durfee will be among the hundreds expected to attend this year’s Syracuse Catholic Women’s Conference Oct. 28 at the Oncenter. The theme for the daylong event is “In Search of a Servant’s Heart” and will include a Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert J. Cunningham and presentations from three speakers. This year’s speakers are Father Michael E. Gaitley, MIC, a best-selling author, director of Evangelization for the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, and the director of Formation for the Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy; Diocese of Syracuse native Sister Ignatia Henneberry, OSF, a campus minister; and Michael Dopp, founder and president of Mission of the Redeemer Ministries, and founder of the New Evangelization Summit. The International Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima, along with first-class relics of Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto, will also be present at the conference.
Individual conference tickets are $55 through Oct. 25 and $70 at the door. Tables for groups of 10 are also available for $530 through Sept. 30 and $550 through Oct. 14. Registration includes lunch. Visit syracusecatholicwomen.org for more details and to register.