Expect to be challenged at ‘Living the Catholic Faith’ event 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
Grow your faith bigger than the culture—that’s one way to sum up the message of this year’s Living the Catholic Faith Conference on March 1-2 at the Colorado Convention Center.
For two days, a roster of 20 well-known teachers, authors and speakers will share with an expected audience of more than 4,000 Catholics how they can break through the deafening din of secularism to live and share their faith with confidence.
“Yes, there are discouraging things, but I have hope, because the power of God is greater than any sin or brokenness,” said Tammy Evevard, an expert in youth ministry, who will deliver a keynote address March 2 directed specifically to teenagers. “When I go to a place like this conference, and am able to speak to a thousand kids to share the Gospel and God’s love for them—wow!”
Archbishop Samuel Aquila launches the annual conference March 1, with Mass at 8 a.m, followed by his opening keynote address, “Stand Firm in the Faith.”
The archbishop’s presentation—and the thematic backbone of this year’s conference—draws from Pope Benedict XVI’s call last October for a worldwide Year of Faith. The pope urged the universal Church to renew and share its commitment and knowledge of the faith, starting with individual Catholics themselves, which the pope has called “the new evangelization.”
Conference-goers can attend any of three concurrent “tracks” of speakers and workshop presentations. Besides the main roster of presenters, there is also a Youth Track on March 2 geared especially for teenagers. In addition, three internationally regarded speakers will present in Spanish, including Msgr. Eduardo Chavez, a leading authority on the Marian apparitions at Guadalupe. (For registration details, see box.)
Message of hope for teens
For Evevard, the cultural wasteland confronting teens has only grown worse in the 20 years since she began her youth outreach. A prolific speaker, she has appeared before national audiences that include CNN and EWTN. Her husband, Mark Evevard, has multiple leadership roles in youth ministry in the Denver Archdiocese. He will serve as emcee for the all-day Youth Track.
“What I’m seeing is that my kids—any kids—who are trying to lead moral lives are in the minority,” Evevard said.
She said teens are confronted constantly with situations that include drugs, alcohol and—what she describes as the most widespread teen addiction today—pornography.
She is the author of the recently published book, “Becoming,” which addresses the cultural pressure on women to value superficial looks and sexuality. Her mission: “To crack down on the culture and the lies that it tells us. … The truth is, what is interior is of far more value than the exterior.”
Evevard will present her message in two parts: “Live the Faith” on Saturday morning, and “Share the Faith” in the afternoon.
Her message of hope to teens: “My response is to go back to Genesis, how God created us, made us in his image and likeness, and he never changed his mind. We have to get back to the root of who we are. If God is love, and we’re made in God’s image, then we are made for love.”
Faith is not ‘inherited’
Evevard emphasized the pressures that culture has imposed on faith. The culture has also sucked the life out of faith, too—and that’s the theme keynoter Sherry Weddell will emphasize to her adult audience on March 2. She’s also featured in a workshop presentation on March 1.
Weddell’s goal is to slay the modern error that faith can be passively passed on to the next generation. Her keynote presentation, “God has no grandchildren: Evangelizing post-modern Catholics,” is based on the premise that the faith must be intentionally taught and intentionally accepted.
“There is no such thing as a merely inherited Catholic faith—that’s cultural Catholicism,” she said. “Every one of us has to be engaged in a living, direct relationship with God … our culture has changed so dramatically in the last 50 years, that if you are not an intentional Catholic, you probably won’t be Catholic at all.”
She co-founded the Catherine of Siena Institute, whose purpose is to equip parishes to form lay Catholics for their mission in the world. Her book, “Forming Intentional Disciples: the Path to Knowing and Following Jesus,” is in its seventh printing and has become a staple for parishes and families wanting to turn faith into the centerpiece of life, not its afterthought. And that means having a personal relationship with God.
“This is not Protestant language,” Weddell, a former Protestant, points out. “This is exactly what the Church, the apostles, the saints and the popes have been talking about for hundreds and hundreds of years.”
Jean Torkelson: 303-715-3262; www.twitter.com/DCRegister