Editor’s note: before the Synod on Synodality, the women at RestoreTradition.com released a statement on the Synod that has now gained over 2,500 signatures from Catholic women. For female readers, click here to read and sign this statement. This followed shortly after their second annual conference, detailed below. -TSF
More than 200 Catholic women were treated to a healthy dose of Catholic tradition, teaching, culture, and faith witness at a recent event geared toward supporting them in their role as women of faith.
A Return to Tradition Women’s Conference seeks to foster the return of traditional Catholic culture and the role of authentic women within it.
“This is a fight that we’re in, and we need to stick together,” organizer Jane Brennan said, referencing the rampant confusion in the world, “and we need to be around like-minded women to give us courage to carry on.”
“Not only in our own Church are we batting, but the culture at-large,” said Brennan. “And our answer is, we have to return to tradition.”
The conference presented by lay non-profit Restore Tradition was held Aug. 25-26 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, FSSP, in Littleton, Colorado.
Along with Traditional Mass, Confession, the Rosary, and a procession, a diverse collection of dynamic speakers, lay and clergy, offered powerful witness, teaching, and insight into Catholic tradition, faith, and culture.
Catholic journalist Diane Montagna discussed the forthcoming Synod on Synodality, first detailing the history of synods in the Church and walking through specifics, including the surrounding controversy leading up to this latest one.
Montagna told attendees the Catholic women play a key role in combatting modernism today precisely because they cannot be ordained and are thus not hamstrung by the Church’s political sphere.
Women must know the faith, she said, and if necessary, seek out parishes where it is taught, and liturgy is practiced in tradition.
She offered encouragement for Catholic women to defend the faith in the public square, to see that it is passed on to their children, and to not be driven out.
“You are not outside the Church,” Montagne said.
Jewish convert, author, and podcaster Roy Schoeman shared how his parents were refugees of Nazi Germany, and about his subsequent childhood growing up Jewish in the United States. Schoeman looked for meaning and purpose in life, wrestling with the definition of that amid professional success and losing his belief in God.
He recounted two vivid spiritual experiences, the first with God where he was exposed to the truths of the Catholic faith, and the second with the Blessed Mother, where he said he saw that all the grace that flows from divinity into humanity flows through the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“As a Jew coming into the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church makes sense as post-Messianic Judaism in the traditional form of the Catholic Church,” he said. “When a Jew enters the real (traditional) Catholic Church he sees nothing lost from sacramental Judaism, he sees the transformation of sacramental Old Testament Judaism into the sacraments of the Catholic Church.”
Muslim convert and author Derya Little walked through her conversion story from being raised Muslim in her homeland of Turkey, to becoming an Atheist, converting to Protestant Christianity, and finally, traditional Catholicism, falling “in love” with the Traditional Latin Mass.
“The Lord blessed me a hundred-fold,” Little said. “Despite hard times, the Lord is still good. He still works.”
Writer, artist and OnePeterFive contributor Anna Kalinowska discussed modesty and dressing as an art for the conference. She encouraged the women in attendance to look for moments as traditional Catholics to embrace beauty.
It is important to remember that human nature is fallen, and we are therefore given to temptation, Kalinowska said, and when we reveal too much of ourselves in our dress, we distract others from seeing us as children of God.
Thomas Aquinas linked truthfulness with moderation, she said, and modesty in dress helps us present the truth of who we are. Kalinowska said further that recognizing dress as an art is a way to promote beauty and restore culture, then touching on the art principles of harmony, proportion, rhythm, and balance.
To reclaim the poetry of life our lives don’t have to stop at the liturgy for embracing beauty, she said, as beauty and art can inform our lives in every way.
“We can feed people with the bread of beauty in how we dress, point them to the Holy Trinity with harmony,” said Kalinowska.
“The desire for beautiful dress is not a whim,” she said. “It’s a mission and we’re seeking to teach ourselves and those around us about the truth of our humanity and our inheritance in heaven.”
Dana Stur, a refugee from Communist Czechoslovakia and mother of ten who, along with her husband, runs a Catholic non-profit offering spiritual formation, spoke about the couple’s escape from Communism, along with marriage, and homeschooling.
Having struggled in marriage over a long period, Stur called upon the women at the conference to trust God and trust the Sacrament, saying that marriage is the foundation for the world. She referenced how Fatima visionary Sister Lucia had said the last battle between good and evil would surround marriage and the family.
Throughout the trials in her personal and spiritual path Stur shared that as she began to lose hope she never gave up and kept praying.
She encouraged women to work to know what God is calling them to do, to have relational prayer with the Lord.
“We are good talkers,” she said, “but we don’t always listen so well.”
“Stay close to the sacraments, trust God,” Stur said. “Don’t look at Peter, look at Jesus walking on the water.”
The parochial vicars for Our Lady of Mount Carmel spoke as well for the conference. Father Daniel Nolan, FSSP, gave a detailed examination of Adam & Eve: The First Pathological Marriage, and Father Eric Krager, FSSP, delved into Supra Quae – Abel, Abraham, Melchizedek, the Pre-Cursors to the Sacrifice of Christ.
Father Matthew McCarthy, FSSP, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel advised the women who came to the conference that it was not just a social or academic event.
“This conference will serve its purpose only if those who are in attendance are reinvigorated to strive for holiness,” Fr. McCarthy said.
It takes courage to resist the onslaught of societal decay, he said, stating, “Authentic women know how to fight back.”
This was the second annual Return to Tradition Women’s Conference, and attendance had grown from the first year, the higher in-person numbers also being augmented by a livestream option this year, decidedly expanding the conference’s reach.
Brennan said organizers had received many compliments on the conference; attendees loved last year’s event and the praise for this year went beyond that.
She and her team give all the glory to God for the event’s impact and look forward to welcoming even more Catholic women for the conference in 2024, for which a keynote speaker has already been secured.
The answer to the chaos, confusion, and darkness in the world is the Catholic faith that was passed on to us, Brennan said.
“How did we get here, and how can we get out of it?” she asked. “We think we must return to tradition.”
Lisa Bourne has worked in journalism and communication for the pro-life community, the Catholic Church, other Christian denominations, and secular media for more than 20 years. She graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in Communication and a minor degree in Theater Arts. Lisa writes, edits, and shoots photography from Iowa.