By KATIE BORKOWSKI
CARROLL – For Sandra Joyce, a parishioner at Mallard St. Mary’s, the 2016 Women’s Conference was “a wonderful opportunity to have quiet time, some reflection and time with other women.”
“Since getting married and becoming a mom, my faith has taken leaps and bounds, but I realize how much further I need to go,” she said. “There were so many messages – humility and generativity. Just reflecting on how God is present in the little things I do and to appreciate that.”
More than 100 women of the Diocese of Sioux City gathered on March 5 at Holy Spirit Church to learn about “The Grace of Yes.” The day began with Morning Prayer led by Bishop Walker Nickless, who joined the women for most of the day.
“I hope you will leave today feeling refreshed and renewed,” said Hendey. “I challenge you to meet a sister here who you haven’t met before. I would like us to be intentional about these hours before us.”
To introduce the Grace of Faith, Hendey shared how she came across the pastoral letter of Bishop Nickless from 2009. When she was reading the document, she thought the five talking points of the letter were “five great jumping-off points for a ‘yes’ to faith.”
“Church happens not only on Sunday at our parishes but throughout the week. To be fully giving our ‘yes’ to God means to be giving it all seven days,” said Hendey. “If you feel like everyone wants a piece of you, that is even more of a reason to set aside the first few moments of your day in prayer.”
She suggested making “domesticity” a time of prayer and taking small steps.
“One of my sacred spaces is my laundry room because I hated doing laundry for the longest time,” said Hendey. “I decided that was going to turn into one of my acts of prayer. It has turned from a place I hated entering into a place that is a sanctuary for me. When I am matching socks, it is a time of prayer for my sons and my husband.”
The Grace of Generativity, Hendey said, is for any loving relationship. Her parents taught her “never to leave one good party in search of another.”
“The truth in marriage, jobs and our faith life is that we are called to party at this party, to give our ‘yes’ right here,” said Hendey. “If there is something missing, then we bring to the party the ingredients that were missing.”
Humility, saying “No”
Quoting C.S. Lewis, Hendey said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
“There is a little diva in all of us,” she said. “I prayed about the connection between true humility and forgiveness – the ability to forgive and the ability to receive forgiveness.”
Hendey pointed out some people can’t receive a compliment by just saying, “thank you,” and not arguing with someone about it.
“Let’s all strive to be a little bit more truly humble,” said the speaker. “We have a perfect role model for this – our Blessed Mother.”
The Grace of Humility, Hendey said, is tied into The Grace of No, one of her favorite chapters in the book.
“It seems this resonates with a lot of people,” she said. “God has given us a responsibility, whether we are a parent or not, to be a loving, prayerful force in the life of our kids. Our main job with our youth is to prepare their souls to go out in the world that needs their ‘yes.’”
Hendey also spoke about the “no’s” people need to say to themselves, which are different for everyone.
“These are often the things we need to bring to the grace of confession,” she said. “We have such a beautiful chance today to take the first step to the path of healing by going to Jesus Christ in the sacrament of confession and confessing our sins, the things that are separating us from God.”
Bishop Nickless said he could sense the mood in the room when Hendey started talking about confession.
“We all begin to think of all the sins that are right there,” he said. “You talk about a door of mercy and it is the confessional. It is where Christ is ready to give us that loving sign of God’s love. There is nothing to be afraid of.”
Bishop Nickless said the most important thing is to “let God love you.” During the lunch hour, the women had the opportunity to go to confession.
Giving God a full “yes”
Two of the many tables at the conference were filled by the deacons’ wives. This was considered their spring day of recollection, since their husbands will be going to the Men’s Conference at the beginning of April.
Dixie Port of Akron St. Patrick, Regina Seamann of Sioux City St. Michael and Cecilia Henrich of Le Mars All Saints all rode together to the conference.
Henrich’s take away from the day was to trust in God – “say, ‘yes,’ and he will provide the grace. If you give him your full yes, he will give you and provide for you whatever you need to do whatever he is asking you to do.”
The message Seamann will take with her is “accepting where we are and listening and following what God tells us to do.”
Port learned to not be “so stubborn” in life and to listen when God is talking.
“We were blessed to have Lisa with us,” said Julie Storr, planning committee member. “Her book and her talks apply to every woman, in every age, about generously living in the yes’s and the no’s of fulfilling God’s plan for our vocation.”