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Record crowd attends 2011 Living the Catholic Faith Conference
By Julie Filby
PURCHASE CD RECORDINGS:
CD recordings of Archbishop Dolan's keynote presentation and all other keynote and workshop presentations delivered during the March 11-12, 2011 Living the Catholic Faith Conference, are available for purchase from National Conference Recording Services.
Individual presentations are priced at $8 each. Click here to review purchase options.
Questions? Contact National Conference Recording Services at 303-807-1404 or email@example.com.
This year’s Living the Catholic Faith Conference held March 11-12 drew it largest crowd ever. Nearly 3,500 people, representing 30 dioceses, gathered at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver for two days of gripping speakers and enlightening workshops.
“It was amazing to see so many people here,” said Alex Abeyta, a parishioner of Nativity of Our Lord Church in Broomfield.
Wife, Chasson Abeyta, agreed.
“It (the conference) feels more alive, more exciting, more engaging,” said Chasson, who attended the conference with her family for the third time in five years.
Daughter Lauren Abeyta, 15, enjoyed the sense of community.
“It makes me feel strong to see everybody,” said Lauren, a freshman at Holy Family High School. “You may not know everybody, but you know you’re in the presence of family.”
Conference attendees included religious men and women, consecrated men and women, seminarians, families, couples, and individuals from their teenage- to golden-years including teachers, parents, singles and parish staff.
The conference began Friday morning with Mass celebrated by Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., for a standing-room only crowd in the Wells Fargo Theater.
“It’s wonderful to see so many people here,” said Archbishop Chaput as he began his homily. “We ask the Lord to come upon us strongly with his Holy Spirit in our celebration this morning so this Mass might be the beginning of a wonderful experience of grace and conversion for all of us at the beginning of Lent.”
Mass was followed by a keynote presentation from Sister Kathleen Harmon, S.N.D.deN., who spoke on full, conscious and active participation in the Mass, including a discussion about the two sides of participation: what’s given and what’s grasped.
“To grasp is to take with intention; to take with understanding that ‘what we grasp’ changes who we are,” she explained. “Do we grasp what is happening in the Eucharist? Do we take a hold of it and let it change who we are?”
She shared stories that exemplified the struggle of grasping the concept of being one with Christ, including the widely reported story of Sister Dorothy Stang, a sister from her community, who was killed in the Brazilian Amazon in 2005 as she worked to protect the people and land from corrupt ranchers.
“Dorothy represents for me the human being who reached the ultimate in grasping the divine,” she said.
Several of the day’s breakout workshops were presented to crowds that filled the seats, lined the walls and flowed out the doors of the meeting rooms. Keynote speaker apologist Scott Hahn was thanked by the crowed with a standing ovation following his keynote address on the liturgy and the book of Revelation.
Saturday’s lineup, which featured sessions in Spanish, began with a bilingual Mass celebrated by Denver Auxiliary Bishop James Conley, and concelebrated by Archbishop Chaput and New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Archbishop Dolan’s keynote address followed Mass.
“It’s an inspiration for me to be here; to see this vast crowd,” he began. “During the holy sacrifice of the Mass this morning, as I was on the altar looking out at all of you, I thought: ‘My, my’—I praise God just to think that so many people are here taking their faith seriously.”
Archbishop Dolan, whose talk was infused with passion and humor, commented on the conference’s stellar assembly of speakers.
“To be one of the speakers with Dr. Scott Hahn and Father Robert Barron, two heroes of mine: I feel like a Met in a Yankees’ line-up,” he quipped.
Archbishop Dolan’s talk focused on the influence of Pope John Paul II, whose beatification is scheduled for May 1, and the four pillars of his teaching: primacy of discipleship, rediscovery of Catholic confidence, the law of the gift, and Christian personalism.
“He’s such a charismatic speaker; so down-to-earth and humble,” said Chasson Abeyta. “His topic—talking about Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II)—was an incredible example of a humble person and his impact on the world; his willingness to stand up and ‘be not afraid.’”
Saturday’s agenda continued with workshops, confession, eucharistic adoration, more than 90 vendor booths, a keynote from Word On Fire Ministries founder Father Robert Barron speaking on the drama of salvation, and concluded with a screening of his film “Catholicism.”