John Allen Jr. to keynote 2012 Living the Catholic Faith Conference
By Julie Filby
Official Conference Website:
When: March 2-3, 2012
Described as “the most authoritative writer on Vatican affairs in the English language,” journalist John L. Allen Jr. aims to inform the faithful about issues facing the Church at this year’s Living the Catholic Faith Conference March 2-3.
“I’m a journalist,” he said in an interview with the Denver Catholic Register. “Not a theologian, a pastor or a preacher, or an inspirational speaker. I see my role as supplying some tools to think in a balanced, literate way about the issues facing the Church, and then trusting people to draw their own conclusions.”
In his keynote presentation “Evangelical Catholicism,” Allen—longtime Vatican analyst and National Catholic Reporter senior correspondent—will share how the Church can be renewed through evangelism.
“I’m not using ‘evangelical’ here to refer to a certain brand of Protestant Christianity, but in the root sense of the Greek word euangelion meaning ‘good news’ or ‘gospel,’” he said. “Evangelical Catholicism is a powerful thrust within the Church to renew its missionary energies, and to shape culture in light of the faith.”
He outlined evangelical Catholicism in terms of three pillars: a commitment to traditional Catholic identity; a drive to use that identity to change the world; and faith understood as a personal choice rather than a cultural inheritance.
“Defined that way, there’s no question that evangelical Catholicism is a defining force in Catholicism in the early 21st century,” he said. “Both at the top and the bottom of the Church, the energy today belongs to those Catholics who are clear about their identity and passionate about the intersection between faith and culture.”
He hopes attendees come away from his talk feeling “better informed and more hopeful about where the Church is headed.”
John Allen Jr.
In addition to Allen, keynote speakers at this year’s conference—themed “Be doers of the word” (Jas 1:22)—will be Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court; Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, planetary scientist and curator of meteorites for the Vatican Observatory; and Chris Stefanick, director of youth, youth adult and campus ministry for the Denver Archdiocese.
More than 20 workshops will be offered on topics including Scripture, confession, marriage, prayer life, family life, stewardship, and reaching out to a loved one who is an atheist.
Jennifer Fulwiler, National Catholic Register blogger, wife and mother of five will present the workshop “When your loved one is an atheist.”
Fulwiler, who grew up an atheist, converted to Catholicism in 2007. Blogging and other new media played a big role in her conversion. In 2005, when she had a lot of questions about religion, she started an anonymous blog and recruited Christians to help explain their beliefs.
“I was surprised to find a group of people who could defend their faith with strong, reasonable arguments,” she said. “…they helped me see Christianity in an entirely new light.”
Her presentation will draw on not only her experience, but many others’.
“Because of the nature of the writing I do, I hear from a lot of people—especially atheists and agnostics—who are seeking faith,” she said. “My (email) in-box is also flooded with conversion stories—so I have years of experience dialoguing with both people who are not there yet, and people who have come home.
“The talk will be a synthesis of not only my personal experience, but what I’ve heard from probably hundreds of people.”
She will offer encouragement as well as practical tools to help Catholics reach out to loved ones who have fallen away from faith. Start following her now at www.conversiondiary.com.
“I hope after coming to this workshop people will feel on-fire and say: ‘I can’t wait till the next time someone asks me about my Catholic faith, and asks me to defend it!’”
The conference will also include two Masses, opportunities for adoration and confession, exhibits from Catholic vendors, and a track for teens led by Jason Evert.
It will be held at the Colorado Convention Center. The cost is $55 for one day and $75 for two days (prices go up Feb. 13). For more information, visit www.lcfcdenver.org or call 303-715-3260.