November 30, 2016
Strength is born from struggle and, sometimes, in darkness, there is a divine gift not easily discernible. Such was the message delivered by Sally Robb at the 2016 Catholic Women’s Conference at the Clarion Hotel, Oct. 21 -22. Robb was one of four women who spoke at the conference, which was the Heart of Jesus, Mary and Joseph Foundation’s first in San Angelo.
Robb, who has a master’s degree in Theology and hosts the radio show Thread of Grace, discussed in detail her own personal plights, including the countless seizures, 10-month coma, surgery and subsequent brain damage one of her six children endured. The gift, Robb said, is that her daughter is now able to see the beauty in everyone. “She is the image of love, so radiant, so beautiful,” Robb said. “It is an honor to have her as my daughter.”
Her daughter also sees God’s gifts in difficult times, having once said in prayer, “Right now it’s too dark for me to see it is mercy, but I know that it must be. And I thank you.”
“Annunciation leads to Assumption,” Robb said. “Her saying ‘yes’ leads to a union with God that if you knew her you would see.”
So many times, though, we distance ourselves from God, Robb said.
“They are so filled with shame and condemnation,” Robb said.
On a board next to Robb, covering a photo of the Virgin Mary cradling an infant Jesus, were black clouds scrawled with words such as “abortion,” “critical spirit” and “judgment.”
“Jesus wants to put his hand on top of yours, and He wants to wipe away the darkness so you can begin to see how beautiful you are to Him, how infinitely He desires you, that none of this separates you from Him,” she said, plucking each cloud from the board one by one.
“Everything that comes to us is a gift He’s giving us. The beloved uses every single thing that happens to us as a possibility to draw us closer to Him.”
Following Robb’s presentation and a raffle prize drawing, women congregated in the hotel’s lobby to wait for the next speaker. One attendee, Deborah Montano, said she was impressed by the crowd. “It’s just terrific,” she said. “The speakers were so excellent, starting with Dr. Margarett Schlientz.”
Montano said she identified most, however, with Robb because the two are both mothers whose children have been seriously ill; Montano’s grown son had cancer when he was 7 years old. “Coming to something like this and listening to the experiences (of others) helps our young mothers,” Montano said.
“These ladies have such a heart and joy for Jesus,” added Yevonne Buckner, of San Angelo. “I’m just grateful they came to share with all of us.”
Events such as the Catholic Women’s Conference reignite one’s faith, Buckner said. “It’s like breathing life into your spirit,” she said. “We’re set back on fire and go back out into the world to share it with others.” For Diana Gutierrez, also of San Angelo, the biggest take-away from the conference was the sense of hope she felt.
“When you come to things like this, I don’t want to say we’re looking for something, but consequently you find something,” Gutierrez said. “I got (the feeling) that there’s still hope to be had.”