Community and Formation for This Catholic Moment

By Christine Warner

Fellowship and community are needed to persevere and grow in our Catholic faith and leadership. The support and accountability of our friends, family, mentors, and peers prevent us from traveling alone on our faith journey. 

We can proactively seek out opportunities for fellowship and community beyond our usual schedules and networks, attending retreats and conferences to expand our faith community — such as our 9th Annual Summer Conference.

Community

Held from July 24 to July 28, 2019, the conference will bring together hundreds of Catholic leaders to create new connections, and attendees will listen to talks by renowned speakers, experience the liturgy, and receive faith formation in the beautiful setting of Napa, California. 

2018 attendee Jay Wesley Richards, Research Assistant Professor at The Catholic University of America’s Tim and Steph Busch School of Business, shared, “Just being around 600 hundred faithful, turned-on Catholics, listening to inspiring speakers, participating in Mass, gives me hope for the future of the Church in the U.S., even though the headlines remind us that it is a very dark time for the Church.” 

The combination of shared meals and evenings filled with camaraderie creates many chances to meet other attendees and connect throughout the week. Dr. Andrew Abela, Dean of The Catholic University of America’s Tim and Steph Busch School of Business, explained the blessing of “random (i.e. providential) encounters that make new friendships and renew old ones” that happen between meals and talks. “The conference is the place to go to stay in touch with many great workers in the vineyard of the Lord,” he expanded.

Formation

Another pillar of the conference is faith formation, learning from the wisdom and experience of Catholic leaders. This year’s keynote speakers include His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke, George Weigel, Jim Daly, Alan Sears, Fr. Robert Spitzer, Patrick Lencioni, Dr. Tim Gray and many others. The keynote addresses are accompanied by breakout sessions for further discussion in a small group setting. 

Each of the four days focuses on a particular theme: Charting the Path Forward, Answering the Universal Call to Holiness, Facing Challenges in a Secular Culture, and Revitalizing the Parish in the 21st Century. Attendees leave with renewed fervor and conviction.

Sharing about the many enriching moments at the 2018 Summer Conference, Richards said, “It’s not just reminders of the many ways Our Lord is intervening in the world in these difficult times, but it’s also the deep new insights about how to live one’s faith in a leadership position.” 

Richards advised future attendees, “Take advantage of all the official events, and connect with other attendees during the break times. Resist the temptation to wander off because of the beautiful surroundings, or burn up all of your time lounging by the pool.” 

Liturgy

Each day, there are multiple opportunities for prayer, Mass, spiritual direction, and Adoration in addition to socializing, networking, and formation. The conference is grounded in the sacraments, the essence of our Catholic faith and the true source of formation. 

Dr. Abela remembered his powerful experience in confession: “I had a long and inspiring talk and then confession with a good and holy priest whom I have known for years. We don’t get to see each other often because we live so far apart. It was the culmination of a very graced week at the Institute.”  

When we take time away from our regular schedules and daily norms, our minds, hearts, and souls are able to refocus and recenter on Christ. And particularly in a faith-based community, we are inspired to become greater witnesses and leaders. From the scheduled events to the spontaneous encounters that our Summer Conference presents, you can find that fulfillment and encouragement. 

Will you join us?




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