Conference History

Here is a brief history of the Oklahoma Catholic Women's Conference. For the bios of the speakers and their topics, click on the heading for each year.

2007 Conference
In 2006, an Edmond woman named Sharmin Romero wondered aloud to her priest why the men had a conference and the Catholic women of Oklahoma did not. "You should put on one!" replied Fr. Tim Luschen, pastor of St. Monica Catholic Church. Sharmin formed a committee of women from various local churches and planned the first Oklahoma Catholic Women's Conference for late January 2007. St. Monica agreed to host the event. Then-Archbishop Beltran recalls that, as he drove to the event in a blinding snowstorm, he prayed for at least 100 women to show up. To his surprise, over 600 attended that first year. The speakers were author and columnist Michaelann Martin, therapist Suzanne Baars, Mary Jane Fox, Rita McCarthy, and local husband and wife evangelists Michael John and Mary Poirier. (Katie Gordy was listed as a speaker in the early publicity, but agreed to step out when it became clear that the schedule was getting too tight. She spoke at the next conference.)

2008 Conference
Sharmin's military career caused her to relocate out of state, and committee member Kara Allen took over as conference chair. The size of the crowd forced a move to Bishop McGuiness High School in 2008. Over 900 women came to hear local speaker Katie Gordy, author Joan Wester Anderson, Rosalind Moss from Catholic Answers. A special treat was the display of several relics from St. Gianna Molla, an Italian doctor, wife and mother who refused to have either an abortion or hysterectomy when she was pregnant with her fourth child, costing her her life.

2009 Conference
In 2009, the conference moved to its present location at the Meridian Conference Center. While not at a Catholic venue, this location gives us more room for parking, vendors, reconcilation and adoration. Over 700 women registered to hear TV host Johnnette Benkovic, journalist Sheila Liaugminas and local pastor Fr. Shane Tharp.

2010 Conference
In 2010, speakers included journalist Teresa Tomeo, author Elizabeth Ficocelli and husband and wife musicians Kurt and Julie Carrick. Over 700 women attended that year also. The vendor space was expanded to accommodate a wider variety of non-profit information booths.

2011 Conference
In 2011, most of Oklahoma suffered a severe winter ice storm the week of the conference. While many from the south and east part of the state were unable to attend, over 400 women still made it. We were able to utilize technology to Skype in radio host Colleen Hammond, who could not fly or drive from Dallas to attend. Musician Sharmane Adams and author Marge Fenelon were live speakers.

2012 Conference
The 2012 conference featured Fr. Leo Patalinghug, who conducted an actual cooking demonstration to illustrate his topic. He also spoke in the afternoon session. Musician Annie Karto and local speaker Katie Gordy completed the day. This was the first year that ads were sold in the program.