A desire to provide a day of grace for women in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is the motivation behind “Bloom,” a one-day retreat organized by Kingdom Builders ministry.
Kingdom Builders began at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne in 2019 and has since expanded to several other parishes spaced across the geographic region of the diocese. It’s a ministry of accompaniment for women experiencing any kind of relationship with the Lord, from beginning or struggling through wanting to joyously share the joy they’ve found.
Lindsey Arnold, co-chairman of the Kingdom Builders conference and a member of the Kingdom Builders ministry leadership team, said the theme of this year’s conference, “Bloom,” came together once the date of the conference was determined. Oct. 16 is the feast day of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, patroness of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
She gives credit to the Holy Spirit for bringing the plans together on that date, under her auspices.
“In our prayer, as we thought about it, it was beautiful — the idea of giving full surrender to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and entrusting that He has created you and provided for you like a wildflower. He said, ‘consider how the wild flowers grow’ — that’s kind of our verse for the year. He has everything planned out for you to fully bloom. It’s just a matter of surrendering to the Sacred Heart, of falling deeper in love with Him.”
She hopes all Catholic women, whether or not they’re regular attendees at a Kingdom Builders monthly gathering, will take the day to come and hear something, have a “Mount Tabor experience” and be refreshed by the time away from other obligations. “It’s what God wants for his daughters,” Arnold said.
This is the second year for the Kingdom Builders conference. Last year the number of registrants was restricted by pandemic regulations, but this year the conference has moved to the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum and has a greatly increased potential capacity.
Dr. Mary Healy, professor of Sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and chairman of the Theological Commission of Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service in Rome, is one of the speakers for the retreat. She will talk about the lies of the devil, “the weeds he likes to plant in your garden, to keep you from blooming and choke out all of those gifts that the Lord wants to bring to life in you,” Arnold said.
In addition to Healy, other speakers at the event will be Meg Hunter-Kilmer, “a beautiful young woman who loves the Lord,” Arnold described. “Her Bible is her best friend; she’ll talk about how the saints are an example for us along the way of people who have surrendered to the Lord and let their lives bloom with His goodness.”
Heather Khym from the Abiding Together podcast and Kingdom Builders Founder Mary Jo Parrish will focus their presentations on the fact that when it comes to surrendering to the Lord, “the saints have done it, other people have done it, and here’s how I have come to bloom in my life,’ Arnold said. “We just have to unveil the richness that is already here, in the Catholic Church.” The Holy Spirit will tie the messages together in His presence with a time of adoration at the end of the day, she added.
During adoration, participants will be encouraged to offer themselves deeply and completely to the Lord. But because for some women this kind of encounter with the Lord might feel daunting or initially awkward, praise and worship songs will be interspersed throughout what is normally a time of silence.
Arnold encourages women to just “show up,” at the conference, present themselves before the Lord and let Him work “whatever miracles he is going to work” in their lives.
“Any woman from any stage of life, any place in her faith or maybe a lack thereof right now, we are all God’s daughters – whether someone sees themselves that way or not. We just want them to feel loved and to know their worth, their authority, their beauty,” Arnold said. “Jesus is the one who will sustain us. It’s all about Him, and we’re just trying to lead others to Him.”
“We hope that everyone goes away from this conference knowing that they were beautifully designed, and Jesus has carried them this whole way, that He wants to see their life bloom, and that He has a plan for that to happen. You’re safe in surrendering to Jesus.”
Doors open at 7:30 a.m. for registration and a light breakfast. Emcee Father Jonathan Norton will introduce the first speaker at 8:30 a.m., after which Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades. Lunch and more conference speakers will follow.
The price of the lunch is included in the $70 registration fee. Several vendors and Catholic agencies will be on site. To register, visit buildingthroughhim.com/resources/events/kb-conference.
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