“Women are the measure of civilization,” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once said. It is a quote that became something of a motto for Magnificat, a ministry to Catholic women. Founded by Marilyn Quirk in 1981, Magnificat will hold its 2017 International Leaders’ Conference here in Orange County from Oct. 5 to 8.
Magnificat is a private association of the Catholic faithful approved by the local ordinary. It has over 100 chapters in 11 countries and 6 languages, including Orange County, the Our Lady Queen of Peace chapter. The ministry’s name is inspired from the Canticle of Mary during the Visitation in the Gospel of St. Luke, a sequence also known as the Magnificat. “My soul magnifies the Lord,” Mary proclaims, “and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47).
Magnifcat’s purpose is to aid Catholic women in deepening their relationship with God through openness to the workings of the Holy Spirit and committing their lives to Christ. In doing so, their growth in holiness becomes opportunities for evangelization and sharing the gifts of the Holy Spirit with others.
This year’s conference theme will center on the Fifth Luminous Mystery of the Rosary—the Institution of the Eucharist.
Director of Communications for the Diocese of Orange, Ryan Lilyengren, noted the conference is taking advantage of Orange County’s Catholic landmarks, including the Christ Cathedral campus and Mission San Juan Capistrano. “We’re pleased to host a ministry intended to edify women on their faith journey,” Lilyengren said. “While it’s important to celebrate together as Catholic men and women, Magnificat strives to make Catholicism accessible and a source of joy for women,” he added.
The main purpose of this year’s conference, according to Diane Bates, assistant coordinator for the Magnificat Central Service Team, is to “help women foster growth in spiritual formation, prayer, praise and worship, fellowship, teamwork, and imparting the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” Bates also emphasized the conference will honor members of the clergy, coinciding with the release of the new Magnificat Proclaims book, Holy Orders.
Several Diocese of Orange clergy and local figures will be involved in conference events. The conference opens with Mass on Thursday, Oct. 5 at the Doubletree Hotel in Orange celebrated by Fr. Bao Thai, spiritual advisor for the Orange County chapter. Bishop Vann will also celebrate Mass during the conference weekend, at the Mission Basilica in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday, Oct. 7. Monsignor Steve Doktorczyk, Judicial Vicar for the Diocese of Orange, Fr. Thai, and author Kathleen Beckman will lead a Eucharistic Healing Service at Christ Cathedral that evening. Other clergy include Monsignor David Toups, dean of students at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, and Fr. Patrick Crowley, SSCC.
Among other scheduled speakers leading workshops are Sr. Regina Marie Gorman, Vicar General of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart in Los Angeles, EWTN personality and author Johnette Benkovic, and San Juan Capistrano resident, Renée Bondi, president of Bondi Ministries. Also scheduled to appear are Director of Mission Services for St. Joseph Hospital, Cathy Fletcher, international speaker Maria Vadia, and former baseball player Jeff Suppan.
Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, convert to Catholicism and author of No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy, will be joined by is his mother, LaChita Calloway.
The timing of this year’s conference corresponds with the launching of the ministry by Marilyn Quirk in Louisiana on Oct. 7, 1981—the Feast of the Holy Rosary. Quirk was awarded the Pontifical Award Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice by Pope Saint John Paul II in 2000. Every year, each chapter holds 3-4 Prayer Meals featuring a personal testimony on how God changed the individual’s life. Diane Bates recommends those interested in such testimonies can find them daily on EWTN Radio Classics.
The Magnificat Proclaims book, Holy Orders, is a compilation featuring bishops, priests, and deacons who have shared their personal testimony at Magnificat Meals.
Writing on the Magnificat website, coordinator Kathy MacInnis cites the closing message by Pope Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council: “[A]t this moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel can do much to aid mankind in not falling.” Magnificat sees itself as just the right ministry in such a time to meet that invitation.
The conference is open to the public. As Magnificat is a women’s ministry, Bates noted, mostly women will comprise the attendance. “But if a man feels called to attend, he is welcome.” The conference is open to the public. Information on the 2017 International Leaders’ Conference as well as Magnificat’s ministry can be found at magnificat-ministry.org.