Faithful grow in mercy through group events

During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, many dioceses, universities and other groups have planned conferences focusing on the mercy of God and how we can live and seek that mercy in our own lives. Such events are key opportunities for the faithful to come together at the local level to determine tangibly what they can do to more effectively live out the Year of Mercy. Here are some examples.

Christendom College

Mike Brown, assistant professor of philosophy at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, recently organized a conference on Divine Mercy at the school. Brown felt inspired by Pope Francis’ announcement of the Jubilee Year of Mercy and wanted to find a formal way to focus the community of Christendom “on the face of God’s mercy.”

The conference, which was held Feb. 17, featured speakers from the school’s community, including Christendom President Timothy O’Donnell, chairman of the philosophy department John Cuddeback, and theology professor James DeFrancis. Following the lectures, those in attendance gathered in the college’s Christ the King Chapel to chant the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Three priests were on hand to hear confessions.“I organized the conference not as a duty of my job but simply from the desire to help our students, as well as local parishioners, gain a greater appreciation and openness to the wonderful mercy of Jesus,” Brown said.

Diocese of Metuchen

The Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, was scheduled to host a “three-day encounter with Mercy” from March 31 to April 2 at the St. John Neumann Pastoral Center in Piscataway, New Jersey. Entitled “Merciful Like the Father,” the conference planned to feature Eucharistic adoration, confessions and talks by speakers including Lori Bragg Harris, Theresa Bonapartis, Father Mariusz Koch and Msgr. Joseph G. Celano, a Vatican-appointed Missionary of Mercy.

The speakers were scheduled to present such topics as “God’s Mercy: the Beating Heart of the Gospel,” “Mercy: The Fundamental Law that Dwells in the Compassionate Heart” and “Take up the Joyful Call to Mercy.” The information provided by the Diocese of Metuchen described the conference as “a kerygmatic event, that is, a Gospel proclamation designed to lead the participants to an encounter with Jesus, Mercy Incarnate.”

The conference was scheduled to close with Mass celebrated by Bishop Paul Bootkoski.

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Some conferences are geared toward a particular audience and are trying to reach out to a particular group of the faithful. One such conference is hosted by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

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Cokeley

On Oct. 29, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, will be host to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s second Catholic Women’s Conference. The theme for this year’s conference is “Mother of Mercy, Make Our Hearts Like Yours.” The conference organizers are hoping the event will help the women in attendance “discover more deeply ... the gift of God’s infinite and tender mercy,” according to the event’s website.

The first Catholic Women’s Conference was held in 2013. Following that, the efforts of archdiocesan personnel were focused on preparing for the World Meeting of Families and the visit of the Holy Father to Philadelphia. Meghan Cokeley, director of the Office for the New Evangelization, is enthusiastic about the upcoming conference.

“We are hosting the women’s conference in order to help women discover (or rediscover) the beautiful gift of their femininity and the unique role that women have to play in life and society,” Cokeley said.

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A conference will be held Oct. 29 at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, Pa. Courtesy photo

As part of the conference, there will be three different “tracks” offered at the conference: one in English, one in Spanish and one for teen girls — a retreat called “True Beauty Revealed.” Additionally, the conference has been specifically designed so that it has something to offer women in all states of life: married, single and professed religious.

“Our fundamental aim is to provide an event in which women experience an encounter with the Lord, and through this encounter, allow him to illumine their feminine genius so that this particular gift of woman may penetrate and transform both the family and society,” Cokeley said.

Diocese of Laredo

The Diocese of Laredo, Texas, was scheduled to hold a conference for attendees to “learn why Pope Francis has designated this a Jubilee Year of Mercy and find out how we can better be instruments of God’s mercy to others,” according to the conference’s registration form.

The title of the conference, which took place March 19, is “Face of Mercy/Rostro de la Misericordia.” The diocese holds an annual Catholic Conference, which is typically coordinated with any papal pronouncements for that year.

The conference was catered in particular to adults, according to Eliseo Morales, the coordinator of evangelization and adult faith formation for the diocese. However, Morales said the diocese is working to improve its outreach to all ages by pooling together the resources of various diocesan departments.

The aim of the conference, Morales said, is “faith formation, fellowship and conversion.”

The “Face of Mercy” conference featured several speakers, each giving multiple talks. Tim Staples, director of apologetics and evangelization at Catholic Answers, was scheduled to give a talk titled “What is Divine Mercy? Separating Truth From Fiction.” Father Francisco Quiroz, Alberto Mata Medina and Sister Guadalupe Ramirez also offered talks in English and in Spanish.

Diocese of Davenport

As part of its observance of the Year of Mercy, the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, will be hosting “Mercy in Motion: A Ministries of Mercy Conference” on July 30. Marianne Agnoli, marriage and family life coordinator for the diocese, described one of the goals of the conference as inviting the faithful to reflect upon the call to be a “church of mercy.”

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Agnoli

The conference will feature a ministry fair, with representatives from numerous local organizations and parish programs, according to Agnoli. There will also be opportunities for a number of breakout sessions, in which attendees are encouraged to discuss ways to develop and maintain “ministries of mercy” in the communities they serve.

Something unique this conference hopes to bring to its attendees is the sharing of expertise and experience, not just from speakers to audience members but among and between the attendees.

“Throughout the diocese, there exists a wealth of knowledge and experience in those serving as ministers of mercy,” Agnoli said. “This conference will provide an opportunity for these ministers to connect and share their expertise with one another.”

Organizers of the conference hope to bring together clergy and laypeople interested in a wide variety of ministries from all over the Diocese of Davenport.

“Participation in this event will not only help those attending deepen their understanding of God’s mercy but will enable them to draw upon the rich experience of their fellow church ministers as they share information on how to engage in various ministries of mercy in their parishes and the greater community,” Agnoli said.

Paul Senz writes from Oregon.

Jubilee Contests
As part of its efforts to encourage the faithful to live out the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston is hosting two competitions encouraging residents of the archdiocese to artistically reflect upon the mercy of God.

Online Resources
Can’t make it to a conference near you? There are a wealth of online resources to help you live a more merciful life during this Holy Year of Mercy.

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