By KATIE BORKOWSKI
CARROLL – “If God is your copilot, change seats,” Teresa Tomeo told 250 women of the Diocese of Sioux City on March 25.
“They probably think they are saying something very profound, very spiritual,” said Tomeo. “Think about that. God, the Alpha and the Omega, is your copilot, which means you are in the pilot seat. Which means you know more than God. That’s how I lived my life. God was there when I needed him, but the rest of the time I was in the driver’s seat.”
The best-selling author, Catholic radio talk show host and columnist with The Catholic Globe was the keynote speaker for the Women’s Conference at St. Lawrence Church in Carroll.
The day began with opening prayer with Bishop Walker Nickless, who was present with the women for the entire day.
“God, our father, we thank you for this day, the Feast of the Annunciation,” the bishop prayed. “Help us to be open, as Mary was, to your will in our lives, especially today. Mary said, ‘Yes,’ to you. She changed her plans. She did something that was a little scary, but she gave herself totally to you.”
Linsey Hoard, assistant director of religious education and family life, thought the conference was a “huge success.”
“The day ended up being a huge blessing for a lot of women, and I am so happy that they enjoyed themselves,” she said. “It’s my hope that this time they have taken to ‘fill their cup’ will be fruitful in their own lives and overflow into their service to their families, parishes and work places.”
Tomeo shared her story from “Secular Anchor to Media Evangelist” interwoven with Scripture verses related to her faith journey.
She admitted it took her a while to say, “Yes,” to God and 20 years ago wouldn’t have expected her husband to be a deacon and herself “to be a speaker, writer and Catholic talk show host.”
“God’s plan is much better,” said the keynote speaker. “The teachings of the church and my personal relationship with Christ saved not only my marriage but my soul.”
When looking back at her life, Tomeo could see the times when God’s presence was there.
“Our points to ponder today – there is no real mercy without truth, father and mother know best (God the father and holy mother church), surrender is not a four-letter word and what does he (our Lord) want me to do,” she said. “God wants us to be happy. He gives us gifts and talents. He puts something on our heart that we have a desire to do. For me, it was communication at an early age.”
Tomeo came to a point in her life when her marriage was “crumbling” and she had just lost her job as a secular media anchor, which was “everything to me.”
After six months of searching for a job, she sent out an S.O.S. to God asking him what he wanted from her. Tomeo ended up at another top news affiliate, but she wasn’t feeling right.
“I was crying out to God,” she said. “Why am I not happy in this job? Then, I was quiet and all of a sudden I heard in the depths of my soul, ‘I can’t use you in secular media.’”
One thing led to another and this year Tomeo will celebrate 15 years in Catholic radio. Ten years ago, EWTN came along and wanted to syndicate her show, which is now aired on 500 stations across the United States, Sirius, satellite and shortwave radio and all over the world.
Tomeo’s second presentation was based on her book “Extreme Makeover: Women Transformed by Christ not conformed to the Culture.”
“How do we see ourselves?” Tomeo asked. “It would be nice if we saw ourselves as great and wonderful. Unfortunately, despite all of our successes and all the great achievements we make, we have a really low view of ourselves.”
She shared statistics from a campaign, Real Beauty, which studied social media and how women view themselves. The study combined findings from Twitter and Facebook.
“Women wrote more than 5 million negative tweets about themselves in 2013,” she said. “Four out of every five were about low self-esteem. Women are 50 percent more likely to say something negative rather than positive about themselves on social media.”
She concluded by sharing an action plan with the women. First, read the “love letter,” the Bible. Tomeo used the acronym for Bible – Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.
“Remember God is the ultimate makeover artist,” said Tomeo. “Embrace and understand your faith. It is an incredible gift. Examine your media habits closely, especially during Lent.”
The women could choose two of three breakout sessions to attend between Tomeo’s presentations.
Laura Anderson’s breakout session was titled Receiving More in Prayer. She offered tips and stories from her perspective as a spiritual director for how to maximize prayer time.
United in Christ was the topic of Mary Brandt’s breakout session. She talked about ways to renew one’s commitment to their faith and the church as a member of the body of Christ.
Father Brian Buettner’s presentation, Fostering Vocations in the Home, focused on the importance of encouraging young people in families and parish communities to start actively praying for God’s guidance and direction as they begin to consider their vocation, whether it be marriage, the priesthood or consecrated life.
The day concluded with Mass celebrated by Bishop Walker Nickless and concelebrated by Father Craig Collison, pastor at St. Lawrence.