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Catholic Charismatic Conference“The Kingdom and the Power” attendees immersed in sacraments, speeches, Spirit
Posted: Tuesday, June 10, 2008
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STEUBENVILLE, OH— "The more you focus on God, the more he will show you himself. Dwell in his presence, and your life willchange," said Sister Ann Shields, SGL, one of the speakers who gave direction to Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Catholic Charismatic Conference, held June 6-8.
Shields, a noted international speaker and author, spoke about the need to say yes to God. Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, she said, "We are not allowed neutrality when faced with the question of God. We must
choose yes or no. He asks of you a yes. What are you going to do about it?"
She gave advice to those who struggle to say yes. "If you are willing to say yes to the Lord in some area of your life that you haven’t been able to, I want you to know that the Lord will meet you right where you are," she said.
The conference is one of 11 hosted at Franciscan University this summer. It attracted 900 people from across the U.S. and Canada who sought to grow closer to Christ. Following the theme, “The Kingdom and the Power,” attendees heard renewing talks, received the sacrament of confession, gave praise with music and grew deeper in their faith through daily Mass.
"You can tell that the Holy Spirit is working through this conference," said Mary Jane DeHanes of Old St. Mary’s Parish in Cincinnati, Ohio. “Everything runs smoothly, and people gain so much from this weekend.”
Author, former football player and coach of the New Orleans Saints, Danny Abramowicz, began the conference with the testimony of his conversion. He had all that the world could offer—money and fame—but still he couldn’t find happiness. Only by turning to God was he able to find peace and the strength to resist sin.
"We are not here by accident this weekend," said Abramowicz. "God called each and every one of us, and he's going to move in powerful ways."
He told conference attendees to stay close to Jesus. "I can't defend myself from the evil one by myself," he said. "But with Jesus, I can, every day, any time."
Workshops on topics such as "Reaching Men for Christ," "Bringing the Kingdom Power to Your Parish," "Straying Sheep—Hope for Adult Children Who Have Left the Church," and "Living Your Vocation in the Power of the Spirit" gave conference goers more focused approaches to living their faith daily.
In his workshop, vocations director, Father Jonathan St. André, TOR, pointed out that everyone has a vocation, "whether it be married, religious, consecrated, or the diaconate."
He stressed that a vocation is to be—not to do. "Are you defined by what it says on your business card?" he asked. "Or are you defined by who you are and what your true priorities are? Your vocation began, before you even came upon this earth."
Father St. André gave concrete ways to live your vocation through the Holy Spirit. He told listeners to offer themselves daily and pray in the power of the Holy Spirit at all times. He stressed the need "to be thankful and joyful" and know that God gives many graces to serve him.
Attendees say the Catholic Charismatic Conference gives them tools they need to help their local parishes grow and flourish.
"Our prayer group has been coming here for several years," said Peggy Moore, from St. John the Evangelist Parish in Frederick, Maryland. "The conferences magnify what we do and give us so much that we can bring back to our parish."
Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, who spoke several times during the conference, addressed the challenges that people face.
As he paced the stage, he asked conference attendees to think about their actions. "It needs to start in here," he said, pointing to his heart. "I'm much more worried about the people that are in this room and living in sin! We need to let God break into our heart and take an honest look at our lives."
He continued, "I'm afraid that we can make Christianity a hobby … we need to live radically for the Lord. Make him your life, not your hobby."
Other upcoming Franciscan University summer conferences include the St. John Bosco Conference (July 16-20) for Catholic educators and the Defending the Faith Conference, (July 25-27) which focuses on Catholic apologetics. For more information, including a complete list of conferences for adults and youth, go to www.franciscanconferences.com.
For audio recordings of the main talks by conference speakers, go to www.franciscan.edu/bookstore and click on the "Your Kingdom Come!" logo.