Women’s conference success

Women’s conference success

Yesterday, I wondered how the local newspapers would cover Sunday’s Boston Catholic Women’s Conference compared to their coverage of the men’s conference on Saturday.

Once again the Boston Globe did a decent job with their article entitled, “Catholic women hear O’Malley’s call” while the Boston Herald surpassed its own anemic effort from yesterday by giving us … nothing. Usually I’m excoriating the Globe for it’s biased coverage, but in this case, they beat their cross-town competitor hands down.

As for the article and conference itself, attendance was better for the women than for the men, mainly because the weather wasn’t an obstacle anymore. A lot was much the same as the reactions to the day before. We learned from the article that the conferences cost $300,000, which I should reiterate is not coming from the archdiocese but entirely from ticket sales, exhibitor fees, and whatever donations the organizing committee of volunteers can raise. It’s really very impressive that they can pull this off.

And that dollar amount includes a very, very large bill from the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority for the use of the building—the only venue large enough to hold it—and for the lunches provided to attendees.

(I should add, in the interest of full disclosure, that I did some paid work for the conferences for which I received remuneration.)

I think the two conferences show a real vitality in the the archdiocese and that lay Catholic fervor is not limited to Voice of the Faithful or the Council of Parishes or other protest groups.

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  • And that dollar amount includes a very, very large bill from the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority for the use of the building—the only venue large enough to hold it—and for the lunches provided to attendees.

    Conte Forum at Boston College could host a group of this size, especially if it was scheduled during BC’s spring break weekends.  The organizers would be well advised to consider BC, the TD Garden, and as well as pricey MCCA locations.

  • Harry, it’s not just a matter of the number of people that can be seated, I think, but also the services that can be provided by the locale as well as the ease of access. I will suggest it though. I think it’s good to reconsider every year and not get caught over the barrel by one vendor.

  • I attended the Boston catholic Women’s Conference yesterday and must say it was fabulous, even without Father Corapi !!!

    I was dissapointed that Johnette Benkovic was unable to attend and speak, but all the speakers were very good. Immaculee’s story is one I think everyone of every faith should hear – it was so very inspiring.

    I noticed several improvements over last year’s conference, the most noticable being the streamlined registration – no long lines and ticket holders were not even asked to show their tickets. Also the food issue was much more manageable this year with a simple bagged lunch – but the price was ridiculous: $12.50 for a turkey sandwich, bag of chips, water and an apple.

    Also the exhibitors were there in greater numbers and more diversity than last year. It was like being in Catholic bookstore heaven !

    All in all, very well done. My only suggestsion is more big name speakers. How we could all benefit from a talk from Father Groeschel !!

  • Margie, I’m glad you enjoyed it. A note on the lunches. Every penny of that went to the food vendor, Aramark, who has a monopoly on all food sales in the building.

    The first year of the men’s conference had a better lunch at a much better price, but only because they held the event at Boston College High School and weren’t gouged by a monopoly.

  • These events are extremely helpful and often life-changing for those attending. Hard to believe, but many ordinary folks have never been exposed to the firepower of the caliber of speakers at these kinds of conferences.

    In Detroit conservatives started Call to Holiness 12 years ago to present top-notch speakers, and our attendance several times was sold-out at just over 2,000.  Many, many people, expecially young teens and those of college-age, have said their lives were transformed by hearing speakers who love the Church.  Sad to say, some priests who are pastors would gag at the thought of a a parish presenting a full-throated defense of the Catholic Church, so it’s no wonder that these conferences are so popular.

    Congrats to Cardinal O’Malley.

  • Hey Dom,

    How do you get so many people??  In years’ past we had to cut the Men’s and Women’s Conferences here at Franciscan because they simply weren’t coming (even though we get requests for them all the time)

    Do you think that it’s because it’s a day and not a weekend?

    MargieOh: Johnette is coming to Franciscan this summer…Dom, I gotta give it:-)  http://www.franciscanconferences.com/Conferences/

  • Jen: I thik the biggest reason is that it’s local. People are much more likely to drive an hour or two at the most than they are to drive 12 hours. Not that they won’t, but your pool of folks who will goes down.

    The second key to success is the grassroots nature. I would estimate that more than half of all attendees came as members of a parish group. The conference organizers recruit parish captains to serve as local organizers. There were more than 200 of them this year, both men and women, probably representing a little more 100 parishes.

    The parish captains sell tickets after Masses, post flyers, rent buses, make pitches after Mass (with permission of the pastor of course) and grab folks they know. Many of them are already leaders of men’s groups or women’s group or Bible studies or prayer groups.

    Now those parishes weren’t just in the Boston archdiocese, although most were, and considering how many parishes were not represented, there is a lot of room for growth.

    Is any of that translatable to the FUS conferences? Maybe.

    Interesting sidenote: The idea for the Boston conference came from a guy who went to the Steubenville conferences, but was tired of traveling so far and wanted to bring something to Boston that would draw more local men.

  • Hi JenB !

    i have attended the “Defending the Faith” and the “Charismatic” summer conferences at Steubenville and they were fantastic. However it is challenging and expensive to travel from Boston to Steubenville – so I have not returned in several years, although I would love to.

    BTW, my oldest daughter is a 2005 grad of Franciscan so I made a few trips out there to visit her also !

    Dom, glad to hear that someone from Boston actually attended a Steubenville conference – would that be Scott Landry ? I am very encouraged by the “new crop” of enthusiastic and orthodox people spearheading evangelization in Boston – please God, keep it coming, we need it.