Several months back my friend Michelle called and told me about a fantastic event that was to be held this fall. I hadn't heard anything about the Called to Love Catholic Women's Conference at that point. Michelle told me she had recommended me to her friend Lise, who was on the planning committee and looking for a photographer for the event. I told Michelle I was definitely interested in finding out more information, but when I hung up from that phone call I was definitely nervous, mostly because I am primarily a portrait and food photographer. Photographing events is a completely different experience. I had reservations, but I told Michelle to have Lise give me a call.
A few days later I received the phone call from Lise. I asked her a zillion questions. I found out the event was to be held at Corpus Christi (my home parish) and that there would be an estimated 350 women attending. Honestly, I kind of freaked out when I first heard that number, but as Lise told me more about the conference I began to get excited. I knew I would say yes, even though I told Lise to give me a few days to think it over. I felt called to do the photographs. I felt like it was meant to be me. So I called Lise back and said yes.
The first time I met with the Core Team (the group of ladies that spent over a year organizing Called to Love), I felt like I was meeting with old friends that I hadn't seen in years. The amount of love that these ladies poured into every aspect of the planning was both astounding and inspiring. As the conference drew nearer, I began to feel nervous again. Tickets for the event sold out much faster than anyone imagined. Additional spots were opened up. There was a waiting list. This event was the first of its kind for women in our Archdiocese. It was a big deal!
On Thursday of last week, the Core Team met for the final time prior to the conference. I told Julia, one of the ladies on the team, that I was nervous about doing a good job for Saturday's event and she said she would say an extra prayer for me. Amazingly, my nerves subsided and as I drove to Corpus Christi in the early hours of Saturday morning, I knew the day and the conference were going to be amazing. As the sun began to light up the morning sky, I couldn't help but hear these words from one of my favorite songs we sing at Mass: "We are called...We are chosen."
We are called to love, to treat everyone with a loving heart. As women from around the Archdiocese of Mobile poured into the church at Corpus Christi on Saturday morning, I watched as women greeted each other with open and loving arms. Mothers and daughters, sisters, best friends, Bible study groups, girls in their teens, mothers and grandmothers--women of all ages--gathered together for a day of prayer, reflection, shopping (thanks to some wonderful vendors) and wonderful food (thanks to the delicious luncheon prepared by the catering staff at Corpus Christi). We were blessed to hear talks from three lovely women: Teresa Tomeo, Sr. Miriam James, SOLT, and Kelly Pease Lombardi, who also shared her beautiful gift of music with us. It was a great day, a day filled with love.
It was my honor and privilege to document this wonderful event. I am so grateful to Michelle and Lise, who pulled me in to the event in the first place. I also have to give a massive shout out and thank you to Marie Sylvester (pictured in the third board below, bottom right), who volunteered to be my assistant for the day. She was a rock star and I know I couldn't have made it through the day without her.
I hope you all enjoy these highlights from the conference!