We are all Disciples

Sept 8 – 14, 2005
VOL 124 NO. 30
We are all Disciples
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
Diocese Religious Education Office to sponsor Journey of Faith conference

The theme of this year’s Journey of Faith is “Life is Christ.” Approximately 500 people, many involved in religious education programs, will be at the OnCenter in Syracuse on Saturday, Sept. 24 for the event. People will travel from points far and wide to attend the spiritually- enriching 11th annual get-together. This year, the Syracuse Diocese will highlight its homegrown spiritual gifts. The musical program the night before the conference will feature many talented musicians and singers from area parishes. The keynote speaker on Saturday is Jim Krisher, another local favorite.

Journey of Faith is geared primarily but not exclusively to the catechetical community and ministry. Workshops are provided for those who minister in other areas: music, pastoral ministry, social justice ministry, RCIA, family life, youth ministry, and many others. Beyond that, Journey of Faith is an opportunity for all adults to come together to be enriched in their own faith journey and to celebrate. “It’s a way to provide a day of spiritual enrichment and faith formation for adults,” said Sister Katie Eiffe, CSJ, Diocesan Director of Religious Education. “Journey of Faith is also designed for people who may not be actively ministering in their parishes, but who want to enrich their own faith. We are all disciples. We’re all called to grow in our understanding of who God is and how God is present in our lives.”

Sister Katie continued, “In planning the Journey of Faith program this year, we decided to focus on the gifts of the people’s talents within our own diocese. So that’s why we asked Jim Krisher to be our keynote speaker. People are thrilled about the idea. Many people know him from the workshops he conducted in previous years, and he always has the largest number of people registering for his workshops.”

Krisher is the founder and director of the Spiritual Renewal Center and is the author of Spiritual Surrender: Yielding Yourself to a Loving God and The Ongoing Work of Jesus: His Mission in Our Lives. He also serves as an adjunct instructor of New Testament and Christian Spirituality at Le Moyne College.

Krisher will offer the keynote address on “Our Radiant Life in Christ.” He said he is very pleased and feels honored to be part of this year’s Journey of Faith. “My goal is to inspire people with the beauty and awesomeness of life itself, and particularly, this life we’ve been given to share in Christ,” said Krisher. “Teaching and preaching have been part of my call for the 27 years that I have been director of the Spiritual Renewal Center. It’s been a life-giving ministry for me.”

The Journey of Faith weekend will kick-off with a concert on Friday, Sept. 23 at Immaculate Conception Church in Fayetteville at 7 p.m. It will feature the musical talent of various music ministries from throughout the diocese. The musical groups include Tom Andino & Friends; Sister Laura Bufano, CSJ; Sean Clive; Exodus; Larry Hagan; St. James Johnson City Folk Choir; Three for One and John Tobias. “There’s lots of talent in our diocese — people who minister in their parishes through music,” said Sister Katie.

Participants will be able to choose from 32 different workshops while at the conference.

Sister Joan Mary Hartigan, CSJ, instructor of Religious Studies at Maria College in Albany, will present the workshop “A Woman on Fire: Teresa of Avila.” “Presenting the workshop is a wonderful opportunity for me,” said Sister Joan. “I graduated from Le Moyne College in 1985. It’s nice to come back to Syracuse. I have fond memories.”

This workshop will explore the spirituality of St. Teresa of Avila and how St. Teresa can be a spiritual friend for those who desire to know Jesus. “We’ll be examining the life of St. Teresa, especially what she has to say to us about being a Catholic today,” explained Sister Joan. “In my earlier years, I was, and still am, inspired by St. Teresa. She was a Spanish mystic who was involved with the Carmelites in the16th century. She was a human saint who traveled from monastery to monastery on a donkey while she was in ill health.”

During the course of the workshop, some of St. Teresa’s writings will be examined. “Her writings are delightful,” said Sister Joan. “They’re very frank and honest. We’ll study her prayer life and her faith in God. She had an attraction towards contemplative prayer. She believed that the measure of a person’s prayer was how loving a person became. St. Teresa was passionately in love with God.”

Father John Rose, pastor of St. Mary of Mt. Carmel and Blessed Sacrament Parishes in Utica, will lead a workshop entitled “Male Spirituality.” The workshop will explore a man’s journey of spiritual transformation.

Father Rose has administered “Male Spirituality” retreats at his previous and present parishes. “They were life-giving to the men,” remarked Father Rose.

Father Richard Rohr, OFM, a Franciscan priest he met while at a retreat for men in New Mexico in 1994 influenced Father Rose. Through his spiritual mentoring with Father Rohr, Father Rose felt inspired to start administering the “Male Spirituality” workshops to his parishioners.

Father Rose said that the first stage of the journey of spiritual transformation — the first 30-35 years of a man’s life — involves naming who he is and getting in touch with his power as a man. In this stage, the man typically searches for a mate, makes vocational choices, and secures a home.

Father Rose explained that in the second stage, when a man is 35-50 years old, he has usually faced some kind of loss (marriage, job, or child), and then at that point faces a crisis of limitations. When a man realizes his limitations and his inability to fix things, he realizes that he needs other people and God to share his pain. At this point, he begins to ask spiritual questions such as: “Who am I?” and “What is the real meaning of life?”

“This is the beginning of his spiritual journey — that’s how he gets in touch with God,” said Father Rose. “He realizes that the world is not centered around him. He sees his identity as ‘I am loved for what I am, not what I have.’”

Catherine Cornue, Eastern Region director of religious education, will head the “Betwixt and Between” workshop, which will focus on junior high students. She will explore the ways to tap into the age group’s unique perspectives on life to help them deepen their experience of and relationship with God.

Cornue is looking forward to leading the workshop. “I enjoy working with the catechetical leaders,” said Cornue. “When we pull together, we come up with new ideas and new approaches. I’ve been attending these conferences for years, and I’ve noticed that those who attend the conference usually come back again. They come out to deepen their faith and they leave excited to start the new catechetical year.”

“Junior high students are often overlooked. They are very eager to share who they are, and they want to see themselves as part of the faith community. They like to be needed and they want to share,” Cornue said.

Angela Diamond, director of religious education at Church of the Holy Apostles in Norwich and administrator at Chenango County Resource Center will be leading a workshop entitled “Creative Ways to Prepare Children and Families for First Penance and Eucharist.” This workshop will offer practical ideas for involving parents in the sacramental preparation of their children. Suggestions include First Penance and Eucharist parent workshops and a Eucharist retreat day for families. Helpful and practical organizational suggestions and handouts for parent meetings, receptions, music and record keeping will also be included.

A special addition to Journey of Faith this year will be the presentation of the second annual Bishop Costello Award, which will be given to one who has ministered with courage, with vision, and in a collaborative style. The award was instituted in honor of Bishop Costello’s Golden Jubilee, and is now an annual award. This year’s recipient is Sally Millick who serves as a pastoral associate at St. Leo the Great Parish in Holland Patent.

Journey of Faith got its start in 1991, when the Religious Education Office sponsored a two-day “Religious Education Congress” at Le Moyne College — the first catechetical congress in the diocese since 1976. The congress incorporated the Bishop Harrison Institute, which had been an annual one-day professional updating for parish directors of religious education and catechists. The participants, in their evaluations of the event, overwhelmingly suggested that a similar event be held every year.

Consequently, in 1995, the first annual Journey of Faith Conference was held at Le Moyne College. The theme was “Tending the Fire,” and Bishop Thomas J. Costello was the keynote speaker. The first event included 24 workshop sessions.

In 1996, the event shifted to the OnCenter and has been held there ever since, as it allows ample space for the event.

In 1997, the event grew to include a concert on the preceding Friday evening — David Haas, who also shared the keynote address with Arthur Zannoni, presented the first concert. The theme for the event was “Jesus Christ: Yesterday, Today, and Forever.”

For more information, registration, or concert tickets, contact the Diocesan Religious Office at (315) 470-1431.

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