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Conferences celebrate faith and forgiveness

Conferences celebrate faith and forgiveness - (01-05-2015)

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Photo: Immaculee Ilibagiza (right) took a moment to visit with Benedictine Sister Cathleen Marie Timberlake, OSB (center) and BSPA volunteer Wanda Goodspeed during the “Living in Truth” conference held in Overland Park, Kansas, last month. Ilibagiza, a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, was a main speaker at the Kansas City Catholic Women’s conference.

Celebrating faith and forgiveness were themes of two conferences attended by several members of the Benedictine Sisters in April.

Living in Truth: Kansas City Catholic Women’s Conference took place at the Church of the Ascension in Overland Park, Kansas, and included speakers Teresa Tomeo and Immaculee Ilibagiza.

Tomeo, a columnist, author and host of the syndicated Catholic radio program “Catholic Connection,” presented “Rediscovering the Dignity of Women.” Ilibagiza, author of “Left to Tell,” is a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide whose family was among the hundreds of thousands brutally murdered during a three-month killing spree in the African nation.

“She spoke how a local pastor hid her and seven other women in a tiny, cramped bathroom of his home for three long months,” Sister Ruth Elaine Starman, OSB said. “She prayed the rosary every morning when she awoke in that bathroom. She prayed to God she wouldn’t be discovered. It was through her faith that she survived and learned how to forgive those who killed her family. It was an amazing story on the power of prayer and of forgiveness.”

Also attending the conference were Sister Joy Ann Wege, OSB, Sister Jane Heschmeyer, OSB and Sister Cathleen Marie Timberlake, OSB.

At Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri, Sister Virginia Anne Argenziano, OSB, Sister Colleen Maura McGrane, OSB and Sister Sarah Schwartzberg, OSB attended the Faith & Culture Conference: Conversations on the Future of the Christian Faith in the 21st Century.

The three-day conference hosted people of different faiths from around the world. Speakers included Walter Brueggemann, Th.D., author and a preeminent authority on the Old Testament, and Brian Zahnd, author and founder and lead pastor of Word of Life Church. 

“I was very moved by Brian’s account of his search for God in his life,” Sister Sarah said. Zahnd’s presentations were titled “Water to Wine” and “Three Dreams.”

Brueggemann is a retired professor from Columbia Theological Seminary and an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He spoke on “The Prophetic Imagination” and “Out of Babylon.”