On Saturday, Oct. 1, more than 500 women came together for a full day of fellowship with the Holy Spirit and with each other at the 3rd annual Kingdom Builders Gathering, held at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, beautifully decorated to reflect the theme of the day: “Everything is Grace.”
The number of attendees has almost tripled since 2020, the first year the gathering was held, and limited due to COVID-19 restrictions. Now in 2022, the event was in full swing as women from around the diocese and from as far away as Maryland came together for this special day as mothers and daughters, sisters, friends, and relatives of all ages.
The day began early as Catholic vendors from around the area prepared their merchandise for the attendees to peruse, while enjoying their coffee and breakfast treats. Kim Loxton of Totus Tuus Rosaries returned for her third year. “It’s incredible to see all of these women gathering to focus on spiritual self-care. It’s so important.”
Foundress Mary Jo Parrish said the opening prayer before speaking to the crowd, reminding the attendees that, “Walking along the balance beam of life is difficult, but not impossible with Jesus holding your hand.” She shared her wise advice and humorous stories on life as a wife, mother of 10, and most importantly, a child of God.
The second speaker, Father Jason Smith of the Legionaries of Christ, shared the importance of strong fathers, giving examples of his own father and mother and their impact on his life and vocation with the crowd. He also spoke on hope and how central to the Christian life it is. “Despair is to desire something we feel is impossible to obtain; hope is to know it is possible,” said Father Smith.
His presentation was followed by the celebration of Mass with Father Stephen Felicichia, the Chaplain for Kingdom Builders. In Father Felicichia’s homily, he shared the story of St. Thérèse and how she and the communion of saints intercede daily in the lives of the faithful.
After Mass, the women reconvened for lunch in the main gathering hall and enjoyed more shopping at the different vendor booths. There was also the opportunity for anyone in attendance to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation at one of the confessionals set up outside the hall.
The third speaker of the day was author Heather King, who shared the wisdom of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. She was also available to sign her newest book, “Shirt of Flame, A Year with St. Thérèse of Lisieux.”
The final speaker was the editor of spiritualdirection.com, Claire Dwyer, who spoke on the hidden saint, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, a contemporary of St. Thérèse, canonized in 2016 and deemed a saint for the laity.
Patty Berghoff, a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Fort Wayne was in attendance and remarked, “I feel so refreshed. It’s incredible to see all of these women gathering to refresh their souls at the well of Christ’s love.”
Many mothers had their infants in attendance as well, a practice highly encouraged at Kingdom Builders. “Your babies are always welcome here,” said Parrish earlier in the day.
The day concluded with a raffle prize giveaway, donated from local businesses such as DeBrand Fine Chocolates, and various Kingdom Builders products. Finally, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament commenced, the most fitting way of ending a holy spirit-filled day. The women in attendance were rejuvenated in their relationship with Christ and with each other.
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