EASTON, Mass. — In 2017 Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V. inaugurated a Women and Men’s Conference with the hope of gathering faithful from across the diocese to share a day of prayer, reconciliation, sharing and lessons, to prepare them for the Lenten journey each travels in her or his own way.

The landmark event was a big success, and in the following two years the retreat again drew hundreds of individuals who wished to launch the Lenten season with like-minded people and clergy.

On March 7 the fourth annual Women and Men’s Conference will be the gathering spot for diocesan faithful during the first full week of Lent.

The conference will again be held at the Sports Complex on the campus of Stonehill College in Easton. The day will begin with an opening by Bishop da Cunha at 9 a.m. and conclude with 4 p.m. Mass, with the bishop as celebrant and homilist.

The theme of this year’s event is, “As I have done, you must also do,” taken from St. John’s Gospel account of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples.

“This conference is a good opportunity for being renewed in prayer; an opportunity to enrich our Spiritual lives as we prepare for Holy Week and Easter,” said Beth Mahoney, chairperson of the conference planning committee. “We are very excited about this year’s conference and the gathering of so many wonderful men and women from across the diocese and the opportunity for them to hear some wonderful guest speakers.”

Mahoney also mentioned that Continued Education Units (CEUs) will be offered to attendees. There will be a section on the registration form to request the credits.

This year the conference will welcome Kendra Von Esh, a Catholic author and retreat leader. “Kendra is very passionate about developing and improving a relationship with God and helping others to do the same,” Mahoney told The Anchor. “She does it with passion and humor and she’s a wonderful speaker.”

Also on the agenda is Auxiliary Bishop Robert Evans of the Diocese of Providence, R.I., who will give a presentation, “In service to God and others,” referring to pastoral ministry in parishes and individually.

From the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., Auxiliary Bishop John Flesey will speak about his vast experience as a Spiritual director and educator dealing with parish ministry and relationships with God.

“We are really excited about the speakers this year,” said Mahoney, “and Bishop da Cunha will share a meaningful homily at the closing Mass. All four presentations will offer people such great resources for beginning their Lenten season.”

Mahoney told The Anchor that attendees will have access to index cards throughout the day with which to write questions to any or all of the speakers. 

In addition to listening to the dynamic speakers scheduled, faithful will be able to partake of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Eucharistic Adoration, sharing with other attendees, and browsing through what a number of vendors there have to offer.

“We will have displays from diocesan ministries and support systems, and articles and resources to aid in one’s Spirituality,” added Mahoney.

In the past, regional buses have been available to bring people to the conference, and the hope is that will again be the case. People should check with future Anchor editions to see what transportation will be available and where.

Mahony told The Anchor that the cost to attend the conference is $50, which includes lunch.

People can register for the conference at the Diocese of Fall River website at FallRiverDiocese.org and click on the conference menu choice, or they can get more information by emailing Mahoney at frdccwbeth@gmail.com.

Registration forms will also soon be available at individual parishes.

“This convention is a perfect time for faithful to enjoy a diocesan Lenten retreat, to gather with people and prepare themselves for the Lenten season and Easter,” said Mahoney. “I hope to see this grow and grow.”