Conference is planned to deepen understanding of RCIA preparation

By Jennika Baines
SUN Assoc. Editor

The Syracuse Diocese is planning a conference that will teach the teachers.
The Beginning and Beyond Institute will take place from Thursday, Jan. 28 to Sunday, Jan. 31 at Christ the King Retreat and Conference Center in Syracuse. The weekend conference will help catechists deepen their understanding of the conversion process for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

“It’s an opportunity to have the participants in the conference actually walk through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults in the four days,” said Father Joseph Scardella, director of the office of ministerial formation and liturgy and RCIA.

The focus of the conference is to present the vision of the RCIA process, to provide first-hand experience of the Rite, to teach the skills necessary for local implementation and to offer opportunities for reflection, faith sharing and liturgical celebration.

The conference will feature speakers with many different areas of expertise.

Sister Gael Gensler, OSF, is the pastoral associate for St. Julie Billiart Parish in Tinley Park, Ill. With over 25 years of experience, Sister Gael has co-authored a series of publications entitled Foundations in Faith (Resources for Christian Living).

Rory Cooney has composed several collections of recorded liturgical music and is director of music at St. Anne Catholic Community in Barrington, Ill.

Father Robert J. Kennedy, a presbyter of the diocese of Rochester, is the editor of Reconciling Embrace: Foundations for the Future of Sacramental Reconciliation. He is also the pastor of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament and assistant professor of liturgical studies and student formation at St. Bernard’s Institute in Rochester.

Donna Mostiller is the coordinator of Christian initiation at St. Martin de Porres Parish in Buffalo. She is also a member of the Buffalo Diocesan Catechumenate Board.

Father Scardella said the conference will include a “fishbowl” session where participants can watch catechists prepare children for the rite. “We’re actually going to be modelling the rites with adults and children of the catechetical age,” he said.

This is only the second time the diocese has offered this conference, and Father Scardella said it is an opportunity to reinforce the idea that the Rite is an ongoing process, not simply a program with a fixed timeline.

“I think that we need to have parishes really understand the RCIA and the power it can have, when it is really implemented well, to be at the heart of the parish,” Father Scardella said.

There is a registration fee of $364 per person which includes the $249 tuition and $115 for meals. There is a parish team tuition discount of $10 per person when two or more participants from the same parish register at the same time. For those staying overnight, there is an additional fee of $134 for a single room and $67 for a shared room.

Those who attend are asked to bring their copy of The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (the 1988 study edition). Registrations will be accepted through Monday, Jan. 25. To register or for more information, call Father Scardella at (315) 470-1420.

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