By Katherine Long
Sun associate editor
Building Bridges, a two-day conference bringing together more than 700 people from ministries across the diocese, was held Oct. 14 and 15 in Syracuse.
Bridges succeeded the long-running “Journey of Faith” conference, which originated as a venue for ongoing formation for catechists and youth ministers. Bridges was designed to reach a wider audience and cover a broader range of topics, and offered 50 workshops in areas including faith formation, youth ministry, liturgical ministry, RCIA, life and justice, pastoral ministry, family life and music ministry.
Thanks to a new collaboration with the Catholic Schools Office, this year’s conference was held in a new venue — Bishop Grimes Prep. The move helped to curtail costs associated with the conference, enabling organizers to offer the best workshops and speakers at the most reasonable price to those attending.
The new collaboration also brought more than 450 Catholic school teachers to the first day of the conference. Workshops focused on topics applicable to the classroom, with a focus on techniques to enhance students’ learning.
Sister Patricia McCormack, IHM, offered the keynote presentation on Oct. 14. With extensive classroom and administrative experience at the elementary, secondary and college levels, Sister Patricia spoke on the importance of partnering with parents and on the ABC’s of Catholic identity.
John Roberto, president of LifelongFaith Associates, delivered the keynote Oct. 15. His presentation explored the trends and shifts that have contributed to “21st century faith formation,” including changes in people’s spiritual needs and the rise of technology. He presented ideas for reaching the new generation of “technology natives,” joking, “If the revolution’s gonna get you, go willingly.”
The Bishop Thomas J. Costello Award, given to an individual who has “witnessed to a vision of church and ministry as exemplified by Bishop Costello,” was presented on the conference’s second day. Bishop Costello gave the award to Deacon David Sweenie in recognition of his commitment to immigrants, farm workers and the Northern Region Spanish Apostolate.
The conference closed with a liturgy celebrated by Bishop Robert Cunningham. In his homily, Bishop Cunningham thanked all in attendance for “sharing the treasure of faith” with others and for the dedication, joy and help they bring to those around them. The liturgy also featured music by celebrated musician David Kauffman.
Initial feedback on the conference has been “very, very positive,” said Cathy Cornue, diocesan director of the Office of Faith Formation. “The evaluations [completed by those attending the conference] have been very good overall. The workshop presenters especially have gotten some really super feedback.”
In her remarks on the second day of the conference, Cornue thanked the many people who helped put the conference together and those who attended.
“We come from different offices and ministries, but we have one goal: to grow spiritually and professionally,” she said.
For more information on Building Bridges and faith formation in the diocese, visit www.faithformation.syrdio.org.