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Catechists Inspired By the 'Holy Spirit, Teacher of All Things'

July 26, 2012 - 7:20 PDT


STEUBENVILLE, OH (July 26, 2012) - "Why do we catechize? To help others encounter the love of God. The love of the Lord must be made accessible," said Drake McCalister, speaking at the opening of Franciscan University of Steubenville's annual St. John Bosco Conference, held July 18-22.

"It [Scripture] doesn't say, 'for God so desired,' or 'for God thought it was fitting'; it says, 'for God so loved.' These words explain all of God's actions, and why you are here tonight, why you are there week-in-week-out at your parish," continued McCalister, a catechetics professor at Franciscan. "Because God's love desires you, and it's our desire to bring that to others."

The conference, which drew nearly 300 youth ministers, pastors, directors of religious education and many others, featured dynamic talks by renowned leaders in Catholic theology and catechetics, workshops, daily Mass, and eucharistic adoration. Participants came from the United States, Ireland, France, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.

Caroline Farey, head of Catechetical Formation at the Maryvale Institute in England, spoke on catechesis in light of the Early Church.

"Hopefully, in your catechesis, you're delivering the faith always as good news," said Farey, comparing this to the Annunciation of the angel Gabriel to the Blessed Mother.

Showing an image of Fra Angelico's "Annunciation," she explained that there are several lines of text from Scripture trailing from the mouths of Mary and Gabriel. Pointing out a particular part of the text, Farey said that the text coming from Mary's mouth is upside down: She is addressing heaven, and it is meant to be read by God.

Furthermore, "Mary's response is in the passive tense... 'let it be done.' It's called active receptivity. She is actively receiving what is happening to her," said Farey.

A highlight of the conference was a talk by Barbara Morgan, founder of both Franciscan University's Catechetics Department and the St. John Bosco Conference.

Speaking on the necessary development of the Catholic worldview--knowing the truth of the Gospel--in today's society, Morgan said that even Catholics who attend Mass every Sunday often do not possess a Catholic worldview.

"Those who are in the world and do not have a Catholic worldview do not know what we have. They don't see it, they don't know it," she said, adding, "Our Catholic brothers and sisters often don't know what we have either."

Stressing the importance of mission in evangelizing others, she referenced Acts 17:6 in which the disciples are arrested for "turning the world upside down."

"It is still precisely what our mission is. Because the world is wrong-side-up. And our mission is to turn it upside down. They must be turned upside down, or else they will not see," said Morgan.

Dino Durando, assistant resource director of the online catechetical Bishop Helmsing Institute and a 2001 Franciscan graduate, addressed reasons why Catholic parishes often fail to thrive spiritually.

"What's lost in our culture? What have these people lost that we have to give them?" he asked. "How many Catholics that we know have settled for a life of mediocrity? Holiness is not part of their plan; they're not convicted."

Their losses include a loss of a sense of the sacred, moral relativism, loss of a sense of sin, loss of a sense of the human person's dignity, loss of respect for authority. He also pointed to a lack of balance of faith and work in today's busy world.

"The answer to all these problems is the Gospel. We need to be thinking in terms of how to proclaim the Gospel in a multitude of forms, and that's the new evangelization," he said. "It's going to be the Gospel applied to these problems."

Bishop James Wall of the Diocese of Gallup, New Mexico, gave a special presentation on evangelization and catechesis in a mission diocese.

Explaining that his diocese is often referred to as "one of the poorest dioceses in the United States," he said, "Probably the greatest poverty on the reservation or in my diocese is the same poverty that the world is seeing an increase in over and over again. It is that they do not know the truth."

Drawing from Blessed Pope John Paul II's encyclical Ecclesia in America, Bishop Wall reflected on society's imposition of corrupt role models, and compared this to the Church's emphasis on seeing saints as true role models--"the people who have lived in your own lands, who lived heroic virtue, been faithful to the Gospel, and who now are forever in heaven," he quoted from the document.

He also focused on the need for conversion: "Conversion decreases the gap between our faith and works. If we say we have faith, then our actions and our works should be outward expressions of our faith in Christ."

The conference provided a strong message for its participants, including Father Joe Clavin, a pastor from Dunshaughlin, Ireland, who attended for the third time.

"Coming from Ireland, 90 percent of the people consider themselves Catholic, but 30 percent go to church. Coming here is very encouraging and an inspiration to persevere," he said, adding that he was "very impressed by the conference liturgies, and in the profound respect for the Blessed Sacrament."

Mary Margaret Baca, director of religious education at the Church of the Incarnation in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, has attended the St. John Bosco conference for 12 years, "and it just gets better and better."

"The wholeness stands out--time to learn, time to pray, time to meet people," she said. "The renewal is both work-related and spiritually-related; I always come back with a plethora of information for my parish."

For more information on Franciscan University conferences for youth and adults, visit


Franciscan University of Steubenville
OH, 43952 US
Tom Sofio - Associate Director of Public Relations,


Franciscan University, Steubenville conference, Religious Education, Youth Ministry, Parishes


Catholic Schools & Religious Education

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