When Patti Deffendall attended the 22nd Annual St. Louis Marian Conference with her sister, Dori Scherer, in April 2021, she knew it was an experience that she had to bring back to Nashville.
“(Dori) and I have both been on spiritual journeys that we can share with one another and grow together,” Deffendall said. “When she invited me, I thought this is an opportunity to be with her and to continue that journey.
“My heart was completely captivated by the experience,” she said. “Within my prayers, the Holy Spirit would not let me say ‘no’ to the dream of hosting a Marian Conference in our diocese. As soon as I started talking about it, people started saying, ‘yes.’”
Thanks to those ‘yeses’ from people like Rhonda Wigger, senior director of parish ministries at Our Lady of the Lake in Hendersonville, members of the Legion of Mary at Our Lady of the Lake, parish friends, speakers and musicians, Deffendall’s dream will come to fruition April 29-30 with the first Nashville Marian Conference, “My Soul Rejoices,” at Our Lady of the Lake, where Deffendall serves as the director of adult faith formation.
“As we watch the world stage where nations are divided against nations, and families against families, we hold tightly to the hope that rises up in our hearts when we unite ourselves to our mother in heaven, our Mother Mary. We trust that she is with us now, interceding for us and for those whom we love,” Deffendall said. “The conference is an opportunity for people to understand Mary better and to grow closer to her, knowing that she leads us to her son.”
The two-day conference will feature four keynote speakers including Nikki Kingsley, author of “This for Truth: From Mohammad to Jesus”; Vietnam veteran Bob Gannon, who experienced a miracle while praying a novena to St. Therese; Sonja Corbitt, a Bible study evangelist and Catholic scripture teacher; and Father Joseph Aytona of the Fathers of Mercy.
Music will be provided by PJ Anderson and Taylor Tripodi.
Attendees will also have an opportunity to visit the Ave Maria stage to listen to more music, the Eucharist Miracles Prayer Room, which will feature the work of Blessed Carlo Acutis, and the Catholic Marketplace where attendees can shop for gifts from Catholic vendors and can learn about Catholic vocations from the Nashville Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia and the Diocese of Nashville Office of Vocations.
Tickets are $89 per person and include all keynote addresses, dinner on Friday, and breakfast and lunch on Saturday. Tickets are available at www.nashvillemarianconference.com/#tickets. Purchase as soon as possible is encouraged because of limited seating.
Hotel reservations are available through Hampton Inn and Suites, 111 Saundersville Road, Hendersonville. A special rate of $119 plus tax is available when you mention the “Nashville Marian Conference.”