April 1, 2023 | Your Stories
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

The five friends who organized the Feb. 4 women’s retreat in Union County: Lisa Burke, Jill Utley, Linda Baird, Beth Hendrickson, and Kelly Joiner. COURTESY OF BETH HENDRICKSON

With ‘joy, laughter, and holiness,’ five friends plan women’s retreat


With the change of colors in fall 2022, you could feel the Holy Spirit moving and touching lives as the wind blew. Five friends gathered in October and felt the grace of the Holy Spirit sweeping through Union County. The friends could feel God’s call; they could feel the need to share their love of God with others in the Diocese of Owensboro. So the friends set out to plan an event to gather women together, to bring friends and fellowship into one space for one day in February 2023.

Linda Baird, Lisa Burke, Beth Hendrickson, Kelly Joiner, and Jill Utley began to gather at Linda’s grandmama’s home to begin planning the event. The retreat theme was to be “Joy, Laughter, & Holiness.” The friends met throughout the fall and winter making final plans. The team not only wanted to share the story of a keynote speaker, but their desire was to also share the faith stories of people in our community and throughout the diocese. When one hears the faith story of a neighbor, it is easy to know that we are all alike in some way: we all have a story to tell. The team reached out to people in our community to share their stories. The beauty of it all is that among the friends, two of our own said yes to sharing their story as well.

The retreat day was set for Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023 and hosted at St. Ann Parish in Morganfield. The morning started with women from all over the diocese and beyond gathering to share God’s word, faith stories of five different women, and music. Attendees ranged from women ages 14-90. It was a perfect day.

Joelle Maryn speaks at the Feb. 4 women’s retreat in Union County. COURTESY OF BETH HENDRICKSON

The event began with keynote speaker, Joelle Maryn, sharing her story. Joelle is an award-winning actress, speaker, and TV host who has been featured on various TV shows including “The Journey Home” on EWTN. Several years ago, she had a miraculous encounter with Jesus and shared her message of God’s healing love with those at the retreat.

Speakers and local friends – Linda Baird, Lisa Burke, Madison Turner, and Laura Young Shoulders – also shared their personal faith stories. Michelle Crider and Ethan Martin graced our event with beautiful music and song as all guests sang along.

Guests were served a luncheon by several John Paul II Catholic School eighth-grade girls, who later led the ladies in a rosary. The Sacrament of Reconciliation was available throughout the day provided by Fr. Freddie Byrd and Fr. Tony Bickett, and Adoration was also available all day. Gift bags were given to all attendees, and the day ended with Mass at St. Ann Catholic Church.

Event surveys indicated that the women of our diocese are yearning for more opportunities like this women’s retreat. Hopefully there will be more to come in the future!

The team of friends would like to thank everyone who attended the event; the Diocese of Owensboro for providing a Disciples Response Fund grant; the Durbin Knights of Columbus and the Uniontown Knights of Columbus; the Earle C. Clements Job Corp Center Culinary department for providing desserts; all of our speakers; Michelle and Ethan; Fr. Freddie; Fr. Tony; the staff of St. Ann Catholic Church; St. Agnes Catholic Church; and all who helped make the event a success.

But most of all thanks be to God for planting the seed in our hearts and cultivating the soil to make the event fruitful. God is so very good and the Holy Spirit is alive and well throughout our beautiful Diocese of Owensboro.

Beth Hendrickson belongs to St. Ann Parish in Morganfield.

Originally printed in the April 2023 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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