Diocesan Office for Faith Formation to sponsor Journey of Faith Conference
By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer
Sister Katie Eiffe, CSJ, Diocesan Director of the Office of Faith Formation, is expecting a crowd of almost 400 to attend the spiritually enriching 2009 Journey of Faith Conference Saturday, Sept. 26. The 15th annual conference will be held at the OnCenter in Syracuse.
Each year, the Office of Faith Formation uses the theme from Catechetical Sunday, which is the third Sunday in September. This year, the theme is “Catechesis and the Proclamation of the Word.”
“Many of our workshop presenters will focus on how the Word of God is proclaimed in our worship, in our ministries and in our lives,” said Sister Katie.
The purpose for Journey of Faith is to provide Catholics from across the diocese with the opportunity to be enriched in their own faith foundation.
Journey of Faith is geared primarily but not exclusively to the catechetical community and ministry, but workshops are also provided for those who minister in other areas: music, pastoral ministry, social justice ministry, RCIA, family life, youth ministry and many other areas.
Journey of Faith got its start in 1991 when the Office of Faith Formation sponsored a two-day Religious Education Congress at Le Moyne College — the first catechetical congress in the diocese since 1976. The participants in the congress, in their evaluations of the event, overwhelmingly suggested that a similar event be held annually.
In 1995, the first annual Journey of Faith Conference was held at Le Moyne. The theme was “Tending the Fire” with Bishop Thomas Costello as the keynote speaker. The first conference included 24 workshop sessions.
In 1996, the site shifted to the OnCenter. Father Gerald Blaszczak, SJ, was the keynote speaker and the theme of the conference was “In the Beginning Was the Word.”
In 1997, the event grew to include a musical concert. It was presented by David Haas, who also shared the keynote address with Arthur Zannoni. The theme was “Jesus Christ: Yesterday, Today and Forever.”
In 2004, a new component of Journey of Faith was added with the presentation of the first annual Bishop Thomas Costello Award to Jim Krisher, founder and director of the Spiritual Renewal Center in Syracuse. The award is intended to honor Bishop Costello and to recognize one who ministers with similar vision, courage and collaboration. The award is presented following the keynote address.
The keynote speaker this year is Carole M. Eipers, D. Min., who is Vice President and Executive Director of Catechetics at William H. Sadlier, Inc., one of the foremost publishers of catechetical materials in the U.S.
Eipers served in parish ministries for over 20 years as a teacher, director of religious education, youth minister and pastoral associate. Eipers also served as director of the Office for Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Chicago for nine years as well as President of the National Conference of Catechetical Leadership.
In addition, she has been a member of the adjunct faculties of Mundelein Seminary, Loyola University, Chicago; Loyola, New Orleans; and Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Eipers earned a Master of Pastoral Studies degree from Loyola University, Chicago, Ill. and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Mishawaka, Ind.
“She is a gifted and dynamic speaker who will inspire and enrich us,” promised Sister Katie.
Sister Katie noted that Bishop Robert Cunningham will join those in attendance for his first Journey of Faith experience and will celebrate the closing liturgy.
Journey of Faith participants will have the opportunity to choose from among 32 workshops on a wide variety of topics. Sister Katie said that long-time Journey of Faith facilitators Sister Maureen D’Onofrio, CSJ, Jim Krisher and Father Joseph Phillips will be presenting workshops.
Sister Maureen will present the workshop “The Creed – Do We Mean What We Say?” she will encourage participants to reflect on the meaning of the creed in addition to other phrases for transforming theological insights.
Krisher will lead the workshop entitled “The Mystery of Suffering,” which will extensively explore the question of why God allows so much suffering in the world and will also offer some helpful spiritual insights for dealing with suffering as Christians.
Father Phillips will present the workshop “Who, Me? A Saint? You’ve Got to be Kidding!” Through viewing a brief film, participants will become acquainted with the tapestries of the Cathedral of Los Angeles, and be inspired to open their minds and hearts to the saints and thereby drawn into their company — the communion of saints. The workshop promises to throw new light on grace, redemption, and dignity as a son or daughter of God and on one’s journey of faith.
The format of this year’s conference is a little different from the format of past years. Responding to the wishes of past Journey of Faith participants, the musical concert will be held Friday evening, April 23, 2010 instead of on the usual Friday evening before the conference. ValLimar Jansen, highly-regarded singer, cantor and recording artist, will perform that evening.
“Many people from around the diocese have told us that they cannot travel both Friday night and Saturday, and thus many people have never been able to attend the concert,” said Sister Katie. “So, this year, the concert will be held in the spring. In that way, Journey of Faith will provide a ‘bridge,’ so to speak, connecting the beginning and the end of the catechetical year.”
The conference is open to anyone. For more information about workshops, registration or concert tickets, contact the diocesan Office of Faith Formation at (315) 470-1431.