Share this story

 | By Elizabeth Hansen

God is the Gardener

When Deb Amato and her team sit down to begin planning the annual Michigan Catholic Women’s Conference, their starting point is always prayer and Scripture.

“We do Holy Hours, and we pray for some kind of indication from the Holy Spirit about what the conference should entail,” Deb says. 

This year, Isaiah 58:11 resonated with them.

“Then the Lord will guide you always and satisfy your thirst in parched places, will give strength to your bones and you shall be like a watered garden, like a flowing spring whose waters never fail.”

“We really feel like we’re in a sun-scorched land right now,” Deb explains. “Coming out of COVID, trying to get back to normal lives — women are feeling arid, stretched, not supported.”

She hopes this October’s conference, Quenched, will offer a positive response to that feeling.

“We have Jesus, who is the living water,” she says. “Our mission is to recognize that God is the gardener. He’s the gardener of our hearts.” 

Deb has been involved in planning these conferences since the first one was held in 2012. Originally hosted by — and for — the Diocese of Lansing, the event now includes all of Michigan’s dioceses, and the planning committee has representatives from across the state. From the beginning, Deb says, they’ve wanted the event to be a low-stakes opportunity for women who might just be dipping their toes into practicing their faith. 

Consider it, she said, “a soft-sell invitation” to women asking questions like, “What does it mean to be Catholic? What does it mean to live my faith?” 

In particular, the team strives to remove barriers for younger women to attend, especially those with babies. A quiet room for nursing will be available, and Deb says strollers are a common sight in the conference center. Scholarships for the registration fee are also available.

Whether partaking in the sacrament of reconciliation, meeting other women over lunch, listening to talks, or strolling through the booths of Catholic vendors, Deb says there should be an aspect of the conference that appeals to every woman. 

Overall, her team hopes attendees encounter God’s nourishing grace. 

“He’s inviting us into relationship, and he wants to refresh us,” Deb says. “He wants to give us that living water.”

Learn more  

What: Quenched, the Michigan Catholic Women’s Conference

When: Saturday, October 21, 2023, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Where: Lansing Center, Lansing

How to Register: