Women’s Conference Workshops Present Something for Everyone
October 21, 2009
By Mary Donovan
One will tell about resistance and murder, the other will lead the way to peace of soul. Yet these two workshop presenters at the diocesan woman’s conference on November 7 are essentially telling the same story – caring for God’s creation.
Sr. Ellen Dabrieo is a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur and Virgina Blass is a Doctor of Ministry. They are two of four workshop presenters at Gather Us In 2009, the diocesan women’s conference on November 7 at the DCU Center. Their life experiences are very differe
nt, yet each will inspire her audience with important and relevant insights.
Sr. Dabrieo will tell the story of another sister of the same order, a worker for the poor, a rainforest activist and a martyr. Her presentation will be about Sr. Dorothy Stang. Sister Dorothy or Dot as she was known was from Dayton, Ohio. She was a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur and a rain forest activist in Brazil. She was murdered
in 2005 at the age of 73.
The precipitating issue was a fight she was waging to preserve a piece of jungle that ranchers wanted to clear for logging and cattle ranching. Sister Dot had spent about two decades fighting destruction of the Amazon, and was viewed as a leader in the movement for sustainable development there. Sr. Dabrieo’s topic will be the story of Sr. Stang and the interconnection between the poor people of the Amazon, the rain forest and the powerful forces of the ranching and logging operations.
Sr. Dabrieo spent 12 years working as a missionary in Brazil. Since returning to the states in 1980 she has worked throughout the Archdiocese of Boston with Portuguese speaking people. She has been a
n Adult Faith Educator, especially facilitating Bible courses in several Brazilian and Portuguese faith communities. She has facilitated days of reflection for various women’s groups.
Sr. Dabrieo has also worked on panels in addressing issues that arise working in bi-lingual and bi-cultural parishes, Catholic Social Teaching, and immigration. Presently She works as a pastoral care minister at the North Shore Medical Center
Virginia Blass has 30 years experience in retreat ministry and teaching special needs students. Her inter
est is in a variety of ministries, spiritual direction, preached and guided retreats, parish missions
and lay development in spiritual ministries. A major interest for Ms. Blass is to develop programs
for the spiritual development of laity.
She is an author. Her latest book is “Becoming Like the Beloved.’’ She is also the author
of “Loaves and Fishes: From Faith Experience to Empowered Community.’’ This book addresses social outreach and discernment issues related to rural parish life. She recently completed her Doctorate in Ministry in Spiritual
Direction. Her major focus was the development of spiritual programs in parishes and eco-theology with the writings of Thomas Berry, CP
Ms. Blass will be familiar to many in this area. She has worked at the Passionist Monastery in Shrewsbury, with the Jesuit Communities at Campion Center in Weston and at Eastern Point Retreat Center in Gloucester.
According to Ms. Blass, during her workshop, she and her audience will explore some practical and essential ways of praying to increase our awareness of God’s presence and His compassion for us. In addition, she will help her audience increase their contemplative stance in the midst of busy life styles.
Sister Ellen Dabrieo and Virginia Blass DMin., are two of four workshop presenters at “Gather Us In, 2009,’’ November 7 at the DCU Center in Worcester. The theme of the conference is “The Triumph of Forgiveness, Sharing Stories of Compassion.’’ Keynote speakers are Paula. D’Arcy and Immaculee Ilibagiza, workshops will be presented by Jaymie Stuart Wolfe, Linda Gray Kelley, Sister Dabrieo and Ms Blass. The conference is a day-long 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 website, www.worcesterdiocese.org using the link to the Commission for Women and on the Commission website, www.worcestercommissionforwomen.org.
Virginia Blass, D.Min., comes to Campion Renewal Center with over twenty-five years of experience in retreat ministry and teaching special needs students. Her interest is in a variety of ministries: spiritual direction, preached and guided retreats, parish missions, and lay development in spiritual companioning ministries. She continues her ministry of spiritual direction in her rural New Hampshire parish, Our Lady of Fatima. She has established a non-profit charitable organization (Concordia: Spirituality, Discernment, and Education, Inc.; http://www.concordia-sde.net) for the purpose of making spiritual direction and retreats more available for rural parishes. A major interest is to develop programs for the spiritual development of laity.
Stang Since returning to the states in 1980 she has worked throughout the Archdiocese of Boston with Portugese speaking people. Sister Ellen has been an Adult Faith Educator, especially facilitating Bible courses in several Brazilian and Portugese faith communities. She has facilitated days of reflection for various women’s groups.Sr. Ellen has also worked on panels in addressing issues that arise working in bi-lingual and bi-cultural parishes, Catholic Social Teaching, and immigration. Presently Sister Ellen works as a pastoral care minister at the North Shore Medical Center.