Marian conference draws hundreds, inspires speakers

GREENVILLE — Hundreds of people filled the Peace Center for the Performing Arts June 26-27 to listen to and interact with a line-up of stars in the field of inspirational speakers. The occasion was the Greenville Marian Conference.
“There are a wonderful group of people here,” said Mother Assum­p­ta Long, prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Mary in Ann Arbor, Mich.
“They hear things the way the Holy Spirit wants them to hear things. They obviously love the Lord and Our Lady,” she said.
Mother Assumpta spoke at the conference about a letter that Mary might have written to the people of today.
John Holmquist, who came all the way from St. Theresa Church in Summerville for the conference, said he is a big fan of Mary and enjoyed speaking to Marcus Grodi after his presentation. Grodi is the president of the Coming Home Network and host of “The Journey Home” on Eternal Word Television Network.
“You always get something out of a conference like this,” Holmquist said. “I’m getting old but can still learn.”
Rudy Kobaitan, president of the Charleston chapter of the Cofradia del Santo Niño de Cebu, also came from Summerville to attend the conference. His home parish is St. John the Beloved. Kobaitan loved the music, especially that of Donna Cori Gibson, who led the singing of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and was the cantor at the closing Mass.
“I was also impressed by the conversion story of Father Dwight [Longenecker] and all the beautiful speakers,” Kobaitan said.
In addition, the Marian conference offered confessions and continual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
About 700 people were in attendance at any given time; so many that there were not enough hosts at the June 26 evening Mass to accommodate the crowd.
Nancy McGrath of St. Mary Church in Greenville found the huge crowds  spiritually uplifting. Thelma Dela Cruz, a member of St. John the Beloved, said she was impressed by the beauty of the altar set-up, which included masses of flowers and statues, and an electronic display backdrop of a blue rosetta window and stylized stained glass windows.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrated the vigil Mass June 27 and preached a homily on the theme “fear is useless; what is needed is trust” as it pertained to Mary.
He spoke of all the occasions that Mary had to be afraid, from the first realization as a young girl that she would play a major role in salvation history to her labor pains on the back of a burro and the frightening flight to Egypt; from the fear of trying to find her missing child in the temple to the fear of losing him for good on the cross.
“She must have remembered the words of the angel, ‘Do not be afraid.’ Now with so many Marian apparitions and interventions into the lives of people, maybe she is telling us, don’t be afraid. Why? Because Jesus is with us, the power of the Spirit is in us,” the bishop said. “We should be privileged because the Blessed Virgin Mary intercedes for us.”
Carleen Maher, the conference organizer, said the speakers and singers told her they were moved to elevate their presentations because of the audience, and that the crowds were incredibly attentive.
Though they had a conference array of seven nationally known speakers and three award-winning singers to hold their attention, Maher said she had help from above in constructing the conference.
“Only the Lord could have pulled that line-up together,” she said.
Maher hopes the success of the conference will necessitate another one in the future.