Growing in faith


Dan_Schutte_3x5Diocesan Religious Education Office to sponsor Journey of Faith Conference

By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer

Anyone attending the 2008 Journey of Faith Conference on Saturday, Sept. 27 is sure to be spiritually inspired. The 14th annual conference will be held at the OnCenter in Syracuse.

The purpose of Journey of Faith is to provide Catholics from across the diocese with the opportunity to be enriched in their own faith formation.

Participants include clergy, religious, catechetical leaders, catechists, Catholic school personnel, youth ministers, Christian initiation teams, music ministers, liturgy committees, family ministers, social justice committees, formation for ministry candidates and commissioned lay ministers, pastoral council members, vocation committees, parents and all interested adults.

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

Journey of Faith, the largest single event sponsored by the Religious Education Office each year, occurs at the very beginning of the catechetical year. “It’s an energy boost,” said Cathy Cornue, director of the Eastern Region Religious Education Office. “It’ll be a wonderful adventure.”

Each year, the Religious Education Office uses the theme from Catechetical Sunday, which is always the third Sunday in September.  This year, the theme is “The Word of God in the Life of the Church.”

Dan Schutte, composer/liturgist/artist-in-residence at the University of San Francisco, will offer the keynote address. Best known for his inspiring hymn, Here I Am, Lord, Schutte has been composing music for Christian worship for over 30 years. Many of his compositions have been translated into other languages and are published in hymnals throughout the world. A Jesuit for 20 years before he left the order in 1986, he said he writes most of his songs to complement different parts of Mass. Schutte travels extensively, performing concerts and offering workshops on music and liturgy.

The Journey of Faith weekend will kick-off with a musical concert featuring Schutte on Friday, Sept. 26 at St. Margaret’s Church in Mattydale at 7 p.m. A Milwaukee, Wis. native, Schutte got his start composing music at St. Louis University where he began his Jesuit studies. It was there that he began to experience the connection between music and communal worship. He learned how music can move one’s soul and bring one into the presence of God. At that time, in the early ‘70s, the Catholic liturgy was being renewed and adapting to the experience of people seeking God. Many were asking for more contemporary expressions of their faith. Schutte and four fellow Jesuit students at the university began to write more contemporary music. They played and sang for university liturgies and were drawn to write music that connected with people’s lives. They turned to the Scriptures for much of their inspiration. It was there that they came to know and treasure the images of God’s relationship with human beings. Word spread that the young seminarians were writing music that was having a significant impact on people’s prayer. The group of composers, known as The St. Louis Jesuits, published their first collection of music, a compilation of 57 songs entitled Neither Silver Nor Gold, in 1974.

In 2005, when they reunited to celebrate their 30th anniversary, The St. Louis Jesuits recorded a new collection of songs called Morning Light. The recording features 12 new songs for personal prayer and worship, songs of hope and inspiration. The group has recorded eight collections of music together and the influence of their music has reached far beyond the university and local church where they began. Schutte, along with several other members of the group, have continued to write music and have  published numerous solo collections.

This year, the Journey of Faith Conference will feature 31 workshops on a wide variety of topics. The workshops will be facilitated by national and local speakers such as Sister Maureen D’Onofrio, CSJ, Schutte, Bob Walters, Theresa May, Jim Krisher and many others. “We’ll be offering wonderful workshops,” said Cornue.

Cornue will present the workshop “The Parent Connection.” She  will share some ideas, hopes and dreams on how to connect with parents to engage them in ongoing faith formation for their children and for themselves.
Kris Kearns, singer/songwriter/cantor, will lead a workshop entitled “Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound.” The workshop will illustrate how to become closer to God through the expression of music.

Also at the conference will be an exhibit area featuring national and local vendors, including major publishers of catechetical materials.

Cornue said the conference’s format has changed slightly this year. Instead of concluding with a Eucharistic Liturgy, a Liturgy of The Word of God in the Life of the Church prayer service will be held in the morning.

After Schuttte’s keynote address, the fifth annual Bishop Costello Award will be presented to Father Frederick Daley, pastor of the merged parishes of St. Therese, the Little Flower of Jesus and Our Lady of Solace in Syracuse, soon to be known as All Saints Church. The award is intended to honor Bishop Costello and to recognize one who ministers with similar vision, courage and collaboration. Ordained in 1974, Father Daley has served at various parishes throughout the diocese, as diocesan Director of Vocations and as regional Vicar for Parish Life and Worship. He is an advocate for social justice in the diocese.

The conference is open to anyone. For more information about workshops, registration or concert tickets, contact the Diocesan Religious Education Office at (315) 470-1431.                    

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