PALM BEACH GARDENS | Leaders of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women joined forces this month to host the annual leadership symposium at the Double Tree by Hilton in Palm Beach Gardens, and from the very beginning the dedicated team of women heading up the event were excited and highly charged to motivate and inspire their council sisters into action, faith and service.
Tammy Farr, diocesan council president, and Lena Ghaffari, symposium organizer, took the podium as the two-day symposium opened Sept. 15 and welcomed the more than 75 women attending from parishes around the diocese as far north as St. Sebastian and as far south as St. Joan of Arc in Boca Raton.
After welcoming ceremonies and prayer, Ghaffari, a parishioner of St. Mary in Pahokee, briefly spoke about some of the programs on the itinerary, and then became excited as she shared a few hints of what participants could expect to walk away with and take back to their parishes from the event packed with programs and activities.
“You will leave here with a sense of sisterhood,” she said. “This team is on fire, and we want you to be on fire.”
Appropriately titled “Lead with passion with the light of Christ,” the event offered talks by Kathy Bonner of the National Council of Catholic Women Leadership Development Team, and Jean Bazley, Florida Council of Catholic Women province director. The 13 members of the diocesan leadership training team all organized various talks and took turns presenting as part of the symposium sharing details and insights on various aspects, roles and committees of the organization.
Mass and prayer were also key components of the symposium. Father Mark Mlay, parochial vicar of St. Clare Parish in North Palm Beach, who is spiritual adviser for the Northern Deanery of the council, and Franciscan Father Curt Kreml, assisting friar of St. Lucie Parish in Port St. Lucie, were on hand leading prayer and celebrating Mass. The women enjoyed a casual barbecue at the hotel on Saturday evening, giving participants time to relax and enjoy some socializing and fellowship.
“I tremendously enjoy the symposiums,” said Pat Mulligan, a parishioner of St. Jude in Tequesta. “I enjoy the camaraderie, the knowledge we get from the talks.”
Many of the women in attendance came to learn from the team and speakers full of energy and inspiration. Others enjoyed the overall positive and welcoming atmosphere. The events gave women of all ages, occupations and backgrounds a chance to get together and share as sisters in faith and council serving the Church and Christ.
Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito expressed his good and prayerful wishes to the council’s leadership team and all the women attending the symposium in a letter dated Sept. 15, that was part of symposium materials distributed to participants.
He wrote,” As you gather for your leadership symposium this weekend, please be assured of my prayers as you seek to lead with passion with the light of Christ.” He thanked all of the Council of Catholic Women who made the event possible and all the speakers participating. “Thank you for all that the Council of Catholic Women does to bring the light and love of Christ to all in the Diocese of Palm Beach.”