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Women to explore how forgiveness transforms lives

September 29, 2009

By Mary Donovan from the Catholic Free Press, Friday, September 25

Life could have vanquished Paula D’Arcy. Life could have sentenced her to dreary years of regret and resentment. Instead, Ms. D’Arcy used personal tragedy to fashion a ministry of help.

Paula D’Arcy is one of the keynote speakers at the Nov. 7 women’s conference, “Gather Us In, 2009.’’ Her story is how faith and forgiveness transformed a cruel event into a catalyst for a productive and fulfilling life. The title of her talk is, “Great Lessons from the Journey.’’

In 1975, Ms. D’Arcy was a young mother, building a family with her husband. They had a 21-month-old daughter, Sarah, and they were expecting another child. Their world was a warm bubble of happiness until one terrible day. A driver, impaired by drinking, crashed into their car killing the young husband and daughter. The mother was left, bereft and alone save for the unborn baby.

Today Paula D’Arcy is an internationally known speaker and writer traveling to many parts of the world to bring her counsel to people in need. She travels widely in the United States, Canada and abroad. A former psychotherapist who ministered to those facing issues of grief and loss, Ms. D’Arcy worked with the Peale Foundation, founded by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale from 1980 until his death in 1993. Her work now includes leading workshops and retreats related to spirituality, aspiring writers and women’s gatherings.

She is founder and president of The Red Bird Foundation which supports the growth and spiritual development of those in need and furthers a ministry both to those in prison and those living in third world or disadvantaged cultures.

She describes the beginnings of The Redbird Foundation on the Web site, http://www.redbirdfoundation.com: “In 1998, after nearly 20 years of leading retreats and seminars, I had a vision of all that is possible in terms of reaching a wider audience, including the many who presently live in great need. I saw the impact of pain that has never been transformed, as well as the impact of unresolved grief.’’

She is the author of many books among which are Song for Sarah, When People Grieve, Gift of the Red Bird, Red Fire, A New Set of Eyes, Seeking with All My Heart and Sacred Threshold. Song for Sarah has been translated into eight foreign languages and has been in print for 27 years. Gift of the Red Bird, 1996, was a Spiritual Book Associates selection, and Red Fire (2001) was named Best Spiritual Book by Spirituality and Health Awards.

Her efforts are far-reaching. Beginning in 1999, Ms. D’Arcy has worked with women teachers in Lithuania to help foster growth and learning for children in that country. In addition, she travels frequently to Innsbruck, Austria where she has led retreats and forums. Her work in prisons helps inmates cope with issues of grief and pain.

In 2007, Ms. D’Arcy through her foundation, sponsored an international conference called, WomanSpeak, 2007. In 2010, she will sponsor WomanSpeak 2010. The goal of the conference according to the Web site is to “touch the hearts of women and inspire them to become voices for peace and change in this world.’’

Paula D’Arcy will touch the hearts of women of the Worcester Diocese at “Gather Us In, 2009,’’ Nov. 7 at the DCU Center in Worcester. The theme of the conference is “The Triumph of Forgiveness, Sharing Stories of Compassion.’’ Keynote speakers are Ms. D’Arcy and Immaculee Ilibagiza, workshops will be presented by Jaymie Stuart Wolfe, Linda Gray Kelley, Sister Ellen Dabrieo and Virginia Blass. The conference is a daylong event, beginning at 9:15 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m. followed by Mass.

Information regarding Gather Us In, 2009 is available at every parish in the diocese. In addition, registration forms may be obtained on the diocesan Web site, www.worcesterdiocese.org using the link to the Commission for Women and on the Commission Web site, www.worcestercommissionforwomen.org.

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