|Breaking Open the Word|
|Health & Fitness|
|World & Nation|
|DCR Advertising Rates|
|DCR Submission Guidelines|
March 4, 2009
Faithful feed their souls, rekindle faith at archdiocesan conference
By John Gleason
More than 2,500 people gathered at the Colorado Convention Center February 27-28 to take part in the 2009 Living the Catholic Faith conference. Celebrating the Pauline year with the theme “Live with Conviction,” attendees heard a variety of stimulating lectures and browsed through more than 50 exhibitors’ booths.
During the opening Mass, celebrated by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., the prelate gave special recognition to the Catholic educators in attendance.
“We want to acknowledge you for your faithful service to the Church,” he said warmly.
During his homily, the archbishop reminded the congregation about the importance of observing the penitential Lenten season, which had just begun.
“We should remember that this is a time of getting back to living the Gospel,” he said. “To live it faithfully, without excuses.”
Following Mass, the crowd made their way to the exhibitors’ area to check out the array of items on display. Sue Herth, a religious education teacher at St. Stephen School in Glenwood Springs, told the Denver Catholic Register that the conference is something she looks forward to because she finds it spiritually enriching.
“The conference always has a wonderful lineup of speakers,” she said. “I usually end up taking pages of notes. This is a place I come to in order to feed my soul. And every year I come away will all kinds of things from the exhibitors that I can pass on to my students.”
Author and columnist Colleen Carroll Campbell was the first keynote speaker on Friday. In referring to her book, “The New Faithful and the New Evangelization,” Campbell told her audience that the revival of faith she found brewing among these new faithful was nothing short of amazing. Young people, the future of the Church, who study their faith with renewed intensity and practice it with contagious enthusiasm are inspiring, she said.
“What is drawing people to the Church?” she asked. “The reasons are as unique as the young adults who experience them. They include an attraction to tradition, a rejection of the diluted have-it-your-way faith that many of them learned as children and a desire to live counter-culturally in a society that they see as increasingly out of whack.”
Campbell said that, in a sense, today’s “new faithful” are rebels against the values of yesterday’s hippies and sexual revolutionaries. She was quick to add that their hunger for God runs much deeper than mere rebellion. Rather, she said it’s a necessary hunger which helps them face the challenges that Catholics face in society
“One of the greatest struggles for faithful Catholics today is the problem of living our faith boldly and joyfully in a secular culture that tempts us to despair,” she said. “We see the symptoms of this despair everywhere in our society, in our entertainment and in the materialistic assumption that happiness lies just behind the next purchase.
“Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that despair does not have the last word in the life of a Christian or the life of the Church,” she added. “The last word belongs to Christ, our hope.”
Campbell said that there is a future for the faith regardless of the direction the political and cultural winds may blow.
“In every generation, God raises up new leaders and believers to follow him and serve his Church,” she said.
Jonathan Reyes, newly appointed head of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver, conducted a workshop on “The Family Under Siege” and the challenge Catholic families face living in an increasingly secular culture. Some of the challenges Reyes mentioned include: a society in love with money, the pursuit of pleasure and comfort, an attack on authority and being saturated by the media.
“Love of money is easy to understand,” Reyes told the audience. “By pleasure I mean that we worry too much about not being satisfied; everything has to be fun. The thing is, fun should not be a goal, but rather a byproduct of living the good life.”
Reyes noted that media saturation leads to a loss of contemplation. To counter that, Reyes advised families to “pull back, shut off the television and radio, and embrace silence.”
Reyes said the family structure should reflect the nature of God and that families should take steps to ensure that God is a part of their everyday life.
“We need simplicity to counter greed,” he said, addressing materialism. “We need to live a life of leisure and contemplation that will counter the barrage of the media. We need to embrace the sacraments and also make prayer part of our daily life.”
Conference attendee Nick Lombardi recently moved to Colorado from Indiana. He said he heard about the conference through his parish, St. Mary in Littleton. He told the Denver Catholic Register that he could see his own life reflected in Reyes talk.
“I came from a big family and I don’t know how my parents made time for all the things they did for us,” Lombardi said. “But we always prayed together at meals and at the end of the day. It keeps you on the right course and I can’t imagine why anyone would go without it.”