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Diocese to host men’s, women’s conferences

By JOANNE FOX, Globe editor
(Email Joanne)

The first-ever 2014 Men's Conference for the Diocese of Sioux City drew more than 260 men who decided they needed God in their lives rather than a Saturday of chores, leisure or sports.

That was the consensus among the individuals who attended the conference, held April 5 at St. Joseph Church, Le Mars and sponsored by the Diocese of Sioux City.

Based on that success, the diocese decided to host another men’s conference and has added a women’s conference in 2015.

The men’s conference will be March 21 at St. Joseph Church, Le Mars. The women’s conference will be March 7 at Holy Spirit Church, Carroll.

Fred Shellabarger, assistant director of adult catechesis and family life, felt much of the success of the last men’s conference was due to a group of faithful and committed men who devoted a lot of time, effort and prayer to the conference.

“From the planning stage through its execution and beyond, these men did an exceptional job,” he said. “Not only was their hard work so instrumental in the success of the conference, but their efforts to spread the word about the event contributed even more to its success.”

Affirmed by all of the positive comments from the men, the diocese set out to orchestrate a women’s conference, which Julie Storr of Pocahontas assisted with the planning.

“For approximately two years, I've been following the Holy Spirit's lead on bringing a Magnificat chapter to the diocese and I’ve also been involved with the Sioux City Diocese Catholic Women for many years,” she said. “When the diocese asked me to put together some women to start planning a women's conference, I didn't think twice and enlisted other SCDCW women – Michele Leiting, Robin Corzilius and Jacque Eisenbarth – who met, prayed together and chose a theme: ‘If you knew the gift of God.’”

Guest speakers for the 2014 men’s conference were Tony Brandt and Chris Stewart of Casting Nets Ministries of Wichita, Kan., a nonprofit, lay apostolate dedicated to the challenge of the new evangelization. Both expressed enthusiasm for the strong turnout.

“The attendance numbers were impressive and the men were very enthusiastic,” Brandt said. “Most first-time conferences have nowhere near the attendance this one has.”

“I was very impressed with how engaged the men were for everything that was presented,” Stewart noted.

The speaker for the 2015 men’s conference is Bob Rice, most commonly known as a leader in youth ministry, but also known as a praise and worship leader and recording artist, author, and speaker.

The women’s conference will present two speakers. Gina Bauer is a dynamic youth ministry leader with more than 24 years of experience serving the church. Father Francis Valerio is a priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha, who has provided private and preached retreats for adults and youth, including parish missions.
Storr’s goals for the women’s conference are three-fold.

“To give women the opportunity to get together, to strengthen their faith and to strengthen their friendships with their sisters in Christ,” she said.

Shellabarger noted the goals are spelled out in the Men’s Conference Vision Statement: “To reach the hearts, minds, and souls of our dads, husbands, fathers, uncles, and so on, with a call to grow in their faith and to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to their families, friends and communities… [To] create a men’s ministry that would meet annually for the conference and go forth with outreach to their local parishes that will build a long lasting, continuously evangelizing body, carrying forth Christ’s message of love.”

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