Napa Institute Virtual Conference

Watch our Virtual Napa Institute Conference, “Finding Hope in the New America” which was held August 14-15, 2020, below!

Far from being a slimmed-down version of the regular event, we expanded our speaker line-up to allow for more content on urgent issues of Faith and Culture that we are facing today. The Virtual Conference features sessions from Cardinal George Pell, Dr. Scott Hahn, Curtis Martin, Matt Fradd, George Weigel, Ryan Anderson, Roger Severino, Dr. Tim Gray, O. Carter Snead, Dr. John Bergsma, Fr. Michael Gaitley, Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., Bob Woodson, Catherine Pakaluk, Trent Horn, Fran Maier, Louis Brown and more!

In addition to the talks, we united with our fellow Catholics from all across the country for Masses, Rosaries, and prayer. August 15 is the Feast of the Assumption, which was the perfect time to ask Our Lady to guide our next decade of preparing Catholics to face the cultural and spiritual challenges of the “Next America.”

The past few months have shown us that Napa Institute’s mission of formation and evangelization is more critical than ever. Our online content since March has already impacted nearly 10,000 people weekly; through this Virtual Conference, we intend to reach thousands more. Our message of hope and faith is especially powerful in this time of crisis.



Introduction to the Friday Morning Sessions

Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., President and Co-Founder, Napa Institute
Tim Busch, Co-Founder and Chair, Napa Institute
John Meyer, Executive Director, Napa Institute
Fr. Ambrose, Criste, O. Praem, Conference Emcee



St. Paul Center Presents the Bible – Part 1  with Dr. John Bergsma 

Dr. John Bergsma, Professor of Theology, Franciscan University of Steubenville

Introducing the New Testament: Understanding and Teaching the Scriptures The New Testament is a big book. Really, 27 books by 8 authors over a sixty-year span of writing. How can we simplify it to grasp it as a unity? Well, just four men are responsible for almost 90% of the text of the New Testament. Dr. Bergsma takes us through these biblical authors, using simple visual memory devices to help understand, and then teach, the big ideas of the New Testament effectively.



Social Shutdowns as an Extraordinary Means of Saving Human Life 

The Most Reverend Thomas J. Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield in Illinois

In the face of a pandemic, do we have a moral obligation to shut down our society, require people to stay at home, put employees out of work, send businesses into bankruptcy, impair the food supply chain, and prevent worshippers from going to church? Bishop Paprocki makes the case that doing so would be imposing unduly burdensome and extraordinary means. While some people may voluntarily adopt such means, only ordinary means that are not unduly burdensome are morally required to preserve life, both on the part of individuals as well as society as a whole.



Pope Francis, Albania and the Call to Holiness 

Archbishop Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to Albania

Archbishop Charles Brown reflects on Pope Francis’s call to holiness from the standpoint of the experience of the Catholic Church in Albania, where he is Apostolic Nuncio. The Catholics of Albania kept their faith through almost 500 years of Ottoman rule and then in the period of Communist dictatorship from 1945 until 1991. This experience provides the backdrop for presenting some of the themes found in the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, Gaudete et exsultate (19 March 2018).



American Awakening: Identity Politics and Other Afflictions of Our Time

Dr. Joshua Mitchell, Professor of Political Theory, Georgetown University

Identity politics is one of the great challenges of our time. It longs for justice, but the justice it achieves is only accomplished by group scapegoating. Identity politics borrows from the Christian idea that “the sins of the world are taken away” by a scapegoat, but instead of a divine scapegoat–Christ–identity politics offers up a mortal scapegoat–the white heterosexual male. (Once he is humiliated and purged, another group will be chosen as the necessary scapegoat). Politics cannot return to its task of building a common world together as long as identity politics declares that the task of politics is to repudiate the impure and elevate the innocents.



Our Lady’s Role in the New Evangelization: Your Ongoing Conversion, Her Renewal of the World 

Fr. Ambrose Criste, O.Praem, Novice Master & Director of Formation, St. Michael’s Abbey

The great St. Bernard of Clairvaux famously said “Of Mary, never enough!” (De Maria, numquam satis!) This year’s Napa Institute falls during the solemnity of Our Lady’s Assumption into heaven, and that gives us a great opportunity to sing Our Lady’s praises for a breakout session. We’ll explore especially how She mediates all the graces that Our Lord wants to give to us to help us along the path to holiness. We’ll see how She is the key to the conversion of the whole world, beginning with each of us. Finally, we’ll see how calling upon Her most holy name, especially with Her Holy Rosary, we can enter even more deeply into the Heart of Her Son, Our Lord.



Grace in a Time of Anxiety

Fr. Dominic Legge, Director of the Thomistic Institute

Many people’s spiritual lives have been upended by the pandemic and the accompanying anxiety (and other negative emotions) it has prompted. The classical Christian tradition gives us a very helpful way to understand our fears and anxieties, and even can teach us how, under the influence of God’s grace, we can turn them into occasions for spiritual growth.



“Come Be My Light:” The Crisis of Religious Freedom in the United States and Catholic Responsibility

Tom Farr, President of the Religious Freedom Institute in Washington DC

Religious freedom is under serious and increasing threat in the United States. Opponents of the Church’s teachings on marriage, the family, love, sexuality, human nature, and true human dignity and freedom are succeeding in portraying those teachings as bigoted, hateful, and even racist. Religious freedom – the free exercise of religion — is increasingly being cast as a front for bigots and haters. That message is being communicated not only by politicians on the Left, but by major culture-forming institutions, including our schools, corporations, sports, the media and even the medical profession.

The results are devastating for our religion and our nation. If religious freedom is damaged or lost in America, where it has reached its fullest expression in law and culture, it will impact religious minorities, including Catholics, around the world.

What is to be done? What can you do? Tom Farr, President of the Religious Freedom Institute in Washington DC, gives you his prescription for regaining the culture. In short: be Catholic!



What Was Vatican II Really About?

George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

The debate over the meaning of the Second Vatican Council continues throughout the world Church. George Weigel explores why Pope St. John XXIII summoned Vatican II, what the Council actually taught, and how the Council is best implemented today.



Where Do We Go From Here? How Do We Navigate These Waters as Faithful Catholics Who Want to Rebuild the Church? 

Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence & Director of the James Madison Program at Princeton University, interviewed by Daniel Mark, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Villanova University.

In this interview Robert P. George discusses how faithful Catholics, who want to rebuild the Church, can navigate these waters.



Religious Liberty is Important, But It’s Not Enough

Ryan Anderson, William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation



Unshakeable Kingdom

Dr. Tim Gray, President of the Augustine Institute



Introduction to Friday Afternoon Sessions

Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., President and Co-Founder, Napa Institute
Tim Busch, Co-Founder and Chair, Napa Institute
John Meyer, Executive Director, Napa Institute
Fr. Ambrose, Criste, O. Praem, Conference Emcee



Hope to Die, Hope to Rise

Dr. Scott Hahn, Professor of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization, Franciscan University of Steubenville

Hope is what will sustain us in the days yet to come. It also will make it possible to experience joy in this day, no matter what sorrows presently afflict us. Scott Hahn draws from Scripture and personal experience to offer encouragement and hope grounded in Christ’s Resurrection.



The Parables – A Call to Discipleship

His Eminence, Sean Cardinal O’Malley, Archdiocese of Boston

The parables, particularly in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, are a gift to us from Jesus whereby the eternal truth is presented in the form of an engaging story that captures our attention and leads us to discover the truth for ourselves. The process of coming to more fully know and understand our one, true faith requires time and effort. Jesus guides along a journey of cultivating the seeds of truth to produce growth in our lives. As we become closer to the Lord, we learn how to pray with a focus on God rather than ourselves, and become members of the family of Christ.



Rioters and Revolutionaries

Aaron Kheriaty, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Medical Ethics Program at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine

This talk unpacks the origins of the crisis that played out on our city streets this past summer. Aaron Kheriaty discusses why today’s misbegotten revolutionary ideologies produce only nihilism. This talk also examines the question of why the normalization of violence has become one of the most characteristic features of our time.



U.S. Abortion Law and Policy: The Way Forward After June Medical Services

O. Carter Snead, Director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame

In this lecture Carter Snead (Director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture and Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame) will discuss the Supreme Court’s landmark decision this summer on abortion (June Medical Services v. Russo), and what it means for the future of the pro life movement’s struggle for equal justice under law for unborn children.



Federal Efforts in the Fight to Protect Human Dignity

Roger Severino, Director, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services interviewed by Arina O. Grossu, Senior Communications Advisor for the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

In this interview, Roger Severino discusses what the HHS has done to fight for life, conscience and religious freedom rights, and to protect human dignity. Mr. Severino also speaks about the work of OCR in standing up for the new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division and the enforcement actions it has taken. In addition, he explains what OCR has done during the pandemic to protect against disability and age discrimination in the allocation of resources and care. Mr. Severino concludes with a reflection on living out one’s faith in public life.



A New Birth for Civil Rights 

Louis Brown, Executive Director, Christ Medicus Foundation

Mr. Brown delivers an urgent call for all Americans to love and defend the dignity of all people through a new birth of civil rights in our country. He addresses the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, the need for racial healing and criminal justice reform, and this year’s social unrest as a battle between the culture of life and the culture of death. Using the foundations of Catholic teaching, Mr. Brown articulates the need to make the love of God concrete in our own hearts and in our nation.



Can a Catholic Be a Socialist?

Dr. Catherine Pakaluk | Director of Social Research and Assistant Professor, The Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America
Trent Horn | Staff Apologist, Catholic Answers

Moderator: Fran Maier | Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center; Former Senior Advisor and Special Assistant to Archbishop Charles J. Chaput



Looking Back, Looking Forward, Finding Hope at the U.S. Supreme Court

John Bursch, Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy, Alliance Defending Freedom

From Bostock to June Medical Services and from Espinoza to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the U.S. Supreme Court’s past Term was tumultuous in its religious-liberty and pro-life decisions, but in the midst of it all, there was also hope. In this 20-minute presentation, John Bursch, Vice President of Appellate Advocacy for Alliance Defending Freedom, will discuss the Court’s biggest decisions from the past year and preview what’s on tap. He concludes that there is great cause for optimism about the Court and its direction.



Junipero Serra: the Man Behind the Myths

Robert Senkewicz, Professor of History Emeritus, Santa Clara University

For most of the past century Junípero Serra has been interpreted in a virtual one-dimensional fashion: as a faultless and selfless hero or as a grisly architect of violence and death. This presentation will try to get behind these simplistic notions to discover the reality of a complex man living in challenging times, the actual man recently canonized by Pope Francis.



Love & Reconciliation in America

Arthur Brooks, Practice of Public Leadership Professor and Faculty Fellow at Harvard University



Pope Francis & Vatican II

The Most Reverend Robert E. Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles



Introduction to the Saturday Morning Sessions

Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., President and Co-Founder, Napa Institute
Tim Busch, Co-Founder and Chair, Napa Institute
John Meyer, Executive Director, Napa Institute
Fr. Ambrose, Criste, O. Praem, Conference Emcee



St. Paul Center Presents the Bible – Part 2 with Dr. John Bergsma 

Dr. John Bergsma, Professor of Theology, Franciscan University of Steubenville

The Gospel of Matthew is a foundational book—some would say the foundational book—of the New Testament, so often providing the link from Old to New. But who can summarize—much less visualize—the important message of this book? Dr. Bergsma breaks down Matthew using visual memory devices so that the life-saving message of this Gospel can be grasped and taught simply and effectively.



Religious Liberty & the Supreme Court

Vincent Phillip Muñoz, Tocqueville Associate Professor of Religion & Public Life at the University of Notre Dame



Transforming Suffering Through Faith

Fr. Spitzer, Co-founder and president of Napa Institute/President of the Magis Center



Principles for Living Faith Through a Pandemic

Rick Warren, Pastor & Founder of Saddleback Church



J.K. Rowling and the Crisis of Womanhood

Mary Hasson, Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

Mary Hasson discusses how Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, has become an unexpected defender of womanhood following recent online controversy in response to the U.K.’s Gender Recognition Act.



Ignoble History: The 1619 Project

Allen C. Guelzo, Director, Initiative on Politics and Statesmanship, Princeton University

The 1619 Project, published as a special issue of The New York Times Magazine in 2019, claims to offer a comprehensive new interpretation of American history, in which every aspect of American life is interpreted as some reflection of slavery or racism. But like all single-explanation theories, it commits serious historical errors. Worse still, its marketing as a K-12 school curriculum encourages a younger generation to see their country as a political, social and economic failure.



Lessons from St. John Paul II for this Catholic Moment

George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

The United States has been living through a crisis of crises during 2020. George Weigel suggests what Pope St. John Paul II might say to a country seeking the truth about itself as a source of national renewal.



Making Missionary Disciples

Curtis Martin, Founder of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS)



Interview with His Eminence, George Cardinal Pell

His Eminence, George Cardinal Pell, Cardinal Priest of Santa Maria Domenica Mazzarello interviewed by Monica Doumit, Public Affairs & Engagement for the Archdiocese of Sydney and columnist with The Catholic Weekly



Hope in Mercy

Fr. Michael Gaitley, Director of Evangelization for the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception



Introduction to the Saturday Afternoon Sessions

Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., President and Co-Founder, Napa Institute
Tim Busch, Co-Founder and Chair, Napa Institute
John Meyer, Executive Director, Napa Institute
Fr. Ambrose, Criste, O. Praem, Conference Emcee



We Were Born For This

Fr. John Riccardo, Executive Director, ACTS XXIX

In this talk, Fr. John Riccardo and ACTS XXIX share a reflection on the uniqueness of our time and the urgent and irreplaceable role of the disciple and the Church in it.



Porn: 7 Myths Exposed

Matt Fradd, Author, Speaker, and Host of Pints with Aquinas

There are many myths that prevent people from seeing pornography for what it truly is: a diabolical counterfeit for love. In this talk, Matt untwists the lies, shines light on the darkness, and offers hope to those who are ready to reject the counterfeit and embrace the truth. He backs up his arguments with startling statistics, real life stories, and the rock solid wisdom of the Church’s teachings on human sexuality.



Maintaining Our Mental Health During the COVID Pandemic

Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Medical Ethics Program, University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine

Rates of depression, anxiety, stress, substance abuse, and suicide have been on the rise during the coronavirus stay-at-home orders. Dr. Kheriaty, a psychiatrist, will not only describe these concerning trends, he will also provide concrete practical suggestions you can implement to reduce the risk of these outcomes and improve your mental health during these challenging times.



Tradition and Moral Identity: What the Church Can Give the Young

R.J. Snell, Director of Academic Programs, Witherspoon Institute

Many young people want to lead serious lives, but many feel that they have been robbed of their cultural patrimony, that the adults didn’t give them the tradition and authority they need to understand how to live well. As a result, some turn to nostalgia projects, feverish activism, and, increasingly, to rage. But it’s not just them, many in the West don’t know what to do or how best to live, in part because the “virtuosi of decreation,” have been at work to unmask and take apart tradition, especially the family. Now, as much as ever, the Church can meet the pressing needs of the young by offering our account of divine filiation, a way of life, an account of moral agency, and a defense of family.



Crisis, Church Reform and the Lay Vocation

Fran Maier, Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center; Former Senior Advisor and Special Assistant to Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

The turmoil today in our nation and in so much of modern life can seem distressing. But it’s simply the truth, and the truth really does make us free; not comfortable, but free from our illusions. Free to see the world as it really is. We can’t control the circumstances that other people create for us. But we can usually control how we respond to them. The challenges we face also remind us, as believers, that our real home – our mater et magistra; our mother and teacher – is the Church.



The Decadent Society and the Church

Ross Douthat, Op-Ed Columnist, Podcast Host and Author, The New York Times

Today the Western world seems to be in crisis. But beneath our social media frenzy and reality television politics, the deeper reality is one of drift, repetition, and dead ends. Ross Douthat explains what happens when a rich and powerful society ceases advancing—how the combination of wealth and technological proficiency with economic stagnation, political stalemates, cultural exhaustion, and demographic decline creates a strange kind of “sustainable decadence,” a civilizational languor that could endure for longer than we think.



America Should Not Be Forever Defined by the Stain of Slavery, but celebrated for its victory over it and the promise it offers for all

Robert L. Woodson, Sr., Founder and President, Woodson Center

What can be done about the persistent racial unrest plaguing our nation today? The New York Times’ 1619 Project would have us believe that the racism that allowed slavery and segregation is in America’s very DNA. But Bob Woodson’s 1776 Unites rejects this hopelessness, demonstrating that black Americans have always excelled in the face of adversity and that this same spirit can enable us to unite and overcome today.



How a Return to “The Basics” Can Save the Church and the World Right Now

Chris Stefanick, Author, Speaker, and Television Host



The Fragility of Freedom

Rick Santorum, CNN Senior Political Commentator and former U.S. Senator



Support Napa Institute

In these difficult times please prayerfully consider making a donation to allow us to continue to carry out our mission.