PORTLAND — Speakers and music, a special Mass, and other community-building activities will help hundreds of women in strengthening their faith at the Maine Catholic Women’s Conference set from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 5, at the Holiday Inn by the Bay, according to a news release from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.

In 2017, more than 330 women, spanning from teens to seniors, attended the conference that drew participants from all over New England.

“It’s so powerful to come together, fortify our faith, and take it out to the world,” said Kristen Slocum, an organizer of the conference, according to the release.

“To be together with all these women and be inspired is wonderful,” said Lori Cloutier, another organizer, according to the release. “The women feel stronger and are empowered because of the experience.”

The conference’s keynote speaker will be Sister Miriam James Heidland who has traveled the world inviting others to deepen their relationship with God. A native of Washington, she graduated from the University of Nevada-Reno where she played volleyball on scholarship. Spending most of her time living a typical college life of parties, sports and freedom, she seemed to have it all. In reality, her life was empty and broken. Through the friendship of a holy and caring priest, Sister Miriam’s life began to transform as she realized Jesus was real and that he was the great love that her heart desired. In 1998, she entered the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity and shared her story in “Loved as I Am, An Invitation to Conversion, Healing, and Freedom through Jesus,” her book published in 2014.

Another presenter at the conference will be Colleen Stratton, a victim-survivor of human trafficking and a member of the outreach team for Eye Heart World, a nonprofit dedicated to combatting human trafficking and providing aftercare resources for trafficking victims, prevention for at-risk youth, and training for professionals and community members. After years of walking about in darkness, shackled in chains of addiction, shame and fear, she experienced a radical transformation because of God’s amazing gift of grace.

Attendees will also hear the music of “His Own,” a group formed by three women who wanted to combine their love for Jesus, passion for music, and desire to proclaim the joy of the feminine heart. Through their music and ministry, they have toured the country inspiring women to come before the Lord as they are, to encounter his unique love for them, and to be reminded of the eternal measure of their feminine dignity and worth.

The conference will also include a Mass, adoration, a variety of vendors, a continental breakfast, and lunch. The cost to attend is $60 and the meals are included. A reduced hotel rate is available for those who wish to book a room at the Holiday Inn by the Bay. Call the hotel at 800-345-5050 and mention the Catholic Women’s Conference when booking.

For more information about the conference or to register, call 321-7898 or visit www.portlanddiocese.org/olff/womensconference. Receive conference updates on the event’s Twitter page (@mainecwc).

The Maine Catholic Women’s Conference is co-sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, CatholicTV and The Presence Radio Network.

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