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Priests, Deacons, and Seminarians Renewed at ConferenceTheme "You Will Receive Power!" focused on strengthening pastors to grow in holiness
Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2008
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STEUBENVILLE, OH- "I think that the Lord wants to give us many graces, because we have to preach," said Father Francis Martin, who gave a week-long scripture study on the Kingdom of God at the Franciscan University of Steubenville Priests, Deacons and Seminarians Conference. "We have to preach. Preach the realities in a way that our people are impressed, touched, changed, and healed."
The conference, held June 9-13, attracted about 200 priests, deacons, and seminarians from throughout the U.S., Canada, and Nicaragua. The theme, "You Will Receive Power!" focused on strengthening pastors to grow in holiness.
Father Martin, a professor of New Testament at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., led the conference attendees throughout the week. He continued his talk, "Preaching the Kingdom," showing different aspects of a priest’s life, from the spiritual to the everyday.
"You’ve got the furnace to fix, the sick to visit, you’re running around, a lot," he said. "That’s work, but it’s easy. What’s hard is to pray, fast, wait, and study until the reality really touches your heart, and you’ve got something to say."
His talks wove both the practical and spiritual, highlighting Scripture passages and explaining the truth in each passage, enriching listeners in their knowledge of Scripture. He asked them to be careful to stay focused on God and their duties and to ignore the "false attractiveness" of the modern culture.
"We have let our minds be dragged into captivity," Father Martin said. "There’s a reality beyond all these distractions and it is Jesus."
Throughout the week, the conference attendees were strengthened through the sacrament of confession and daily Mass. They spent time together at planned socials and meals and finding fraternity with others who share their vocation.
Daily workshops included "Renew Your Heart in the Lord and Giver of Life," "Your Ministry, Empowered by the Spirit," and "How to Present the Theology of the Body to Your Congregation."
Father Leo Patalinghug, the director of Pastoral Field Education at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, gave pastors tips and techniques in presenting the Theology of the Body to a parish.
"You really can do this best by talking to engaged couples," he said. "In your marriage preparation courses, you can lead them to talk as you ask them questions about their plans for the future."
He emphasized the importance of reminding couples that there are three people in each marriage: the husband, the wife, and God.
"According to theology, in order for true love to be present, it has to be free, fruitful, total, and faithful. You can’t have one missing."
In another workshop, "Mary in Priestly Formation," Father Patalinghug showed how Mary is the perfect example of one who lives the Theology of the Body, because "she gives God all of herself."
Hosted by Franciscan University chancellor, Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, and director of Post-Novitiate Formation in the TOR Sacred Heart Province, Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, the conference speakers included Father Tom Forrest, CssR, Sister Ann Shields, SGL, and Deacon Alex Jones, among many others.
The seminarians who attended the conference followed a different track of events, helping them grow and become stronger in their vocation.
"This is not only a conference, but also a retreat," said Brother David Sheenan, TOR, seminarian. "It was an eye-opener and an example for me. I saw priests and deacons find conversion to become more Christ-like and learn to die to self."
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.