An unapologetic proponent of pro-life and pro-family values, and a self-described hobo for Christ are bookending the Diocese’s annual Women’s Conference in October, engaging women on the transforming power of the Eucharist and drawing them into a deeper love for Christ in His Real Presence.
Voice of Virtue founder and former EWTN host Barbara McGuigan will keynote the event, “The Eucharist: Jesus in Our Midst,” on Saturday, October 15 at the Diocesan Conference Center in Harrisburg. A Catholic speaker and author who has delivered presentations for teens, young adults, educators and parents, McGuigan offers impassioned messages on virtue, chastity, and the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in the Eucharist.
Catholic blogger, itinerant missionary and self-described “hobo for Christ” Meg Hunter-Kilmer will deliver the conference’s capstone address, exploring Jesus’ encounters with women in the Gospels and delving into how they can transform our own experiences of the Eucharist.
Hunter-Kilmer, a former religion teacher who gave up everything to follow and proclaim Christ, lives out of her van as she travels the country to evangelize in ways that authentically connect with audiences – whether in speaking engagements or on her social media sites.
The Women’s Conference also features an opening Mass celebrated by Bishop Ronald Gainer, a presentation by the bishop, and a breakout session by Katherine Phenicie, Spiritual Life Director at Delone Catholic High School, who will explore saints who were mothers.
Conference attendees will have the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, to spend time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and enjoy fellowship.
In an interview with Rachel Troche, host of the Diocese’s Candid Catholic Convos podcast, McGuigan said the sacraments are critical in taking up the good fight.
“How can we survive without the sacraments?” she asked.
“In order to be true disciples, we must be magnanimous women, meaning great-souled. We must be great-souled women, true in heart, sound in mind, pure in body and flawlessly honest. Only then can we help others to be at home in the arms of God,” she said.
McGuigan expressed her intention that women will come away from the conference with a deeper love and understanding of Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist.
“Jesus is not only in our midst; he wants us to consume Him,” she said. “After receiving Holy Communion, could we not all say, ‘Jesus, your Body is now inside my body. Your Blood is now coursing through my veins. Your Soul is now healing my soul. And your Divinity is now refining my humanity.”
“Many Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist,” McGuigan said, referencing the latest Pew study which reveals that only 31 percent of Catholics believe that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus. “I pray that [conference attendees] will take up an hour of Adoration. I hope they will take up the torch to share with their loved ones and those in their sphere that Christ in the Holy Eucharist is here, and that His human heart is a living heart.”
“Life isn’t about what we can do, but what God can do through us,” she said.
‘Sold-Out for Christ’
Frequently on the road and usually dependent upon the hospitality of conference hosts and parishioners, Hunter-Kilmer can be challenging to catch for an interview – as is the case with this article.
But that’s what helps contribute to her popularity, especially among young adult audiences captivated by her blogs – and, indeed, her lifestyle of “selling-out” for Christ.
“I want to set the world ablaze for Christ!” Hunter-Kilmer exclaims in her LinkedIn profile.
She’s traveled to all 50 states and 25 countries since 2012, giving herself to a full-time speaking ministry “proclaiming the fierce and tender love of God,” she says on her website, www.piercedhands.com.
“My real passion is for inspiring others to be sold out for Christ, to quit sitting on the edge of the boat and start walking on water,” she writes. “So I speak about truth, diving a defense of various Catholic teachings so that convicted minds can inspire impassioned lives. I speak about the wild and varied call to holiness that looks so different in different lives. I speak about the saints and the hope their diverse lives give us that Jesus truly can want us. But most of all, I speak about the desperate love of Christ, who holds us in His pierced hands and makes the Christian life worth living.”
The Women’s Conference is presented by the Diocesan Office of Catholic Life and Evangelization. The event will be October 15 at the Diocesan Conference Center in Harrisburg. Doors open at 7:30 a.m. and the day begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends with closing remarks at 2:45 p.m. Lunch is included with in-person registration.
The conference will be presented in-person and virtually. Registration fees are $35 for an in-person attendee and $20 for a virtual attendee. For a full schedule of the day, speaker bios and registration, visit www.hbgdiocese.org/women.
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness