Empowered laity is goal of Living the Catholic Faith
Conference March 1-2
By Jean Torkelson
2013 LIVING THE CATHOLIC FAITH CONFERENCE
When: March 1-2
Where: Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th St., Denver
For information, registration and cost
Timing is especially significant this year for the annual Living the Catholic Faith Conference on March 1-2, which has as its theme, “Stand Firm in the Faith.”
Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and a roster of some 20 speakers aim to inspire and invigorate Catholics in a year that not only brings grave, growing threats to religious liberty, but also marks what Pope Benedict XVI has proclaimed the Year of Faith.
The opening keynote address by Archbishop Aquila will offer the challenge, “Be courageous, be strong.”
“We want people to leave the conference feeling uplifted, encouraged and excited by the Catholic faith,” said James Cavanagh, head of the conference planning committee and director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Denver. “They will hear some of the best Catholic speakers in the country; get together with literally thousands of fellow Catholics and draw encouragement from them, and also be able to visit 90 exhibitors and explore books, gifts and various kinds of apostolates—that is also a great part of the experience.”
The annual conference, which is the single largest Catholic gathering in the Rocky Mountain region, will be held at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. Cavanagh said the goal this year is to meet and even exceed last year’s attendance of more than 4,000 people.
The conference also includes a two-day complement of speakers and workshops in Spanish for Hispanic participants and, on Saturday, a day of presentations geared toward young Catholics, ages 13-18.
Each year, the Living the Catholic Faith committee looks to the themes of the Holy Father as it begins to develop its own speakers and mission statement for the following year, Cavanagh said. Early last year, as the committee began to plan for this March, it became clear that in these perilous times, the laity need to be empowered to “stand firm in the faith,” as Pope Benedict wrote in his apostolic letter proclaiming the Year of Faith.
“The Holy Father shows us the direction we need to go, so the Year of Faith was definitely part of our planning,” Cavanagh said. “Second, the whole issue of religious freedom was beginning to occupy more of the conversation. We wanted the conference to focus on this as a time when Catholics really do need to stand firm in the faith … clearly, there are signs that religious freedom is not something we can take for granted.”
The laity is an essential part of the witness for Christ, from Scripture to the catechism to the teachings of the magisterium.
“All of the baptized faithful share in the prophetic office of Christ,” Cavanagh said. “That was a key teaching of Vatican II, that the Christian laity have an important role to play in the evangelization and sanctification of the world.
“One of the great things about a conference,” he added, “is that you are surrounded by literally thousands of other Catholics excited about their faith and you realize that we’re part of a big family, and that fact alone gives you encouragement.”
In addition to Archbishop Aquila—who will also celebrate the opening Mass on Friday morning—other keynoters include Msgr. Eduardo Chavez, author of 28 books and expert on studies of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Msgr. Chavez will celebrate the Mass on Saturday morning and give the Spanish keynote address.
Other keynoters include Curtis Martin, founder of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students and a charismatic speaker about the power of evangelization; Sherry Weddell, an expert on helping people discern their spiritual gifts and author of “Forming Intentional Disciples” and Damon Owens, father of eight, as well as a dynamic speaker, gospel musician, former corporate executive, and now executive director of the Theology of the Body Institute.
Teens meet on Saturday for daylong workshops and keynote presentations by Father Jim Crisman, director of Priestly Vocations for the Archdiocese of Denver, and Tammy Evevard, a popular speaker on faith and family issues and author of “Becoming.”
In addition, more than a dozen other speakers will present workshops on provocative topics such the discernment of spirits, overcoming destructive tendencies in family life, and what criteria apply for calling oneself a Catholic.
“We want to appeal to a broad cross-section of the laity and inspire and encourage them, not just give them information,” Cavanagh said. “We hope people will learn things about their faith they never knew before, and that opening new doors will open new perspectives.”
Jean Torkelson: 303-715-3262; www.twitter.com/DCRegister