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Online forum aims to form Catholic women in faith

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CNA Staff, Jun 8, 2020 / 04:15 pm MT (CNA).- The GIVEN Institute has announced a free online event “Discover the Gift,” seeking to empower women to realize their worth and unique gifts. The event by the group, which works to foster leadership in young Catholic women, was made after the in-person GIVEN Forum was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While not being able to gather together in Washington, this unfolds an opportunity for wider engagement of the entire GIVEN Network to activate the gifts of women across the globe,” said Rachel Harkins Ullmann, the executive director of the GIVEN Institute in a press release announcing the event.

“Now more than ever, the dignity and vocation of women needs to be unleashed into the Church and the world, to protect the vulnerable, provide direction in a time of crisis, and mentor the next generation of female leaders,” she said.

The free online conference is scheduled for June 10-14, the original dates of the GIVEN Forum, and will be open to any woman of any age who signs up. Each day will feature a keynote speaker, reflection questions for discussion, and time for prayer.

“The days of Discover the Gift will be structured around the three-fold theme of helping the women attendees ‘receive the gift they are; realize the gifts they’ve been given; and respond with the gift that only they can give,’” said the release.

The website for Discover the Gift says that the event will be “retreat-like,” with no obligation to attend all of the sessions. A person can stream whatever sessions best work into their schedules.

Women who were previously accepted into the in-person 2020 GIVEN Forum will be able to access an exclusive Q&A each day of the Discover the Gift, and will be able to attend the 2021 Forum.

Speakers who are confirmed for Discover the Gift include Sister Virginia Joy SV, Mother Gloria Therese OCD, Debbie Herbeck, Berni Neal, Sister Josephine Garrett CSFN, Dr. Grazie Christie, Montse Alvarado, and Jenna Guizar.

The institute was launched on Sept. 12, in response to what it says are bleak statistics on female involvement with the Church. According to a 2018 study published by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, only about 17 percent of young Catholic women attend Mass each week, while only about one-third of those women say they pray every day.

“At a time where millennial women are disaffiliating from the Church in increasing numbers, it would be really important for the Church to turn its attention to shoring up the faithfulness of the women who do want to serve the Church, so that they can carry on the legacy of faithful women who have gone before them,” GIVEN founding executive director Elise Italiano told CNA in 2018.

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