Hope Conference slated for April 1 - Catholic Courier

Hope Conference slated for April 1

Folks whose marriages have ended may, at times, find compassion and understanding from others to be in short supply. However, they’re guaranteed to fit right in by attending the Hope Conference.

“One of the big things is, (participants) become aware they’re not the only ones who are in the situation,” Peggy Cunningham said. “A lot of times, people think they’re the only ones who have such intense feelings about these things.”

Cunningham serves as the Hope Conference’s coordinator along with her husband, Deacon John Cunningham. The seventh annual conference will take place Saturday, April 1, at St. Christopher’s Church, 3350 Union St., North Chili, which is the Cunninghams’ home parish.

The program, with a theme of “One Day at a Time,” will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It is designed for people who are separated, divorced, widowed or remarried. Serving as keynote speaker will be Dr. Dennis Boike, a noted marriage and family therapist. Among the workshop topics will be “Relying on God in your Grief”; “Forgiveness: Moving On”; “Healing through the Annulment Process”; “Finding Strength and Hope in Your Grief”; and “Understanding Personalities.” Cunningham noted that in addition to these sessions, organizers can refer participants to ongoing programs and services that address their needs.

Cunningham said the conference can assist people who were separated either recently or a long time ago.

“It’s for whatever stage they’re at — 20 years, and for some it’s two weeks,” she remarked.

She added that another benefit of the Hope Conference is the connection with fellow participants, with friendships often resulting.

“It’s always nice to get to know other people. We strive to make it a welcoming atmosphere — comfortable and secure,” she said.

The day’s activities are open to people of all faith backgrounds. Regarding Catholics, Cunningham said it’s important for them to feel at ease if they experienced past alienation in church settings.

“I just want people to know they are loved and supported by their church,” Cunningham said, pointing out that Bishop Matthew H. Clark has attended the Hope Conference in the past and continues to endorse it.

Preregistration cost for the conference is $25 and includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and family line-dancing lessons. Preregistration is due by March 23, and the cost is $30 thereafter. For a brochure, more information or to register, call Peggy or John Cunningham at 585/293-3337 or e-mail peggymcunningham@yahoo.com.

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