Registration open

By Maureen Smith
Pastors, DREs/CREs, catechists, youth ministers and pastoral leaders have until Thursday, Sept. 15, to take advantage of the early bird discount for GO!, the Gulf Coast Faith Formation Conference. The conference is set for Jan. 12-14, 2017, at the Pontchartrain Center in New Orleans.
“We are extremely pleased with the new direction the conference is taking this year” said Fran Lavelle, director of faith formation for the Diocese of Jackson. GO! is planned by all of the faith formation and evangelization directors in this region. “We have national speakers as well as tapping into the tremendous talent and experience of folks in our region,” she said.
The theme this year, “Prayer: the Faith Prayed and Lived,” is based on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ catechetical theme for the year.  The keynote speakers will focus on prayer, reflection and witness. Sister Lynn Marie McKenzie, OSB, JD, JCL, presents prayer.
A Benedictine Sister at Sacred Heart Monastery in Cullman, Ala., for more than 35 years ago, Sister McKenzie seeks to live a balanced life of prayer and work in keeping with the Benedictine motto of “Ora et Labora.” Sister McKenzie will share her experience of how prayer helps her as she tries to be a faithful seeker of God in her daily journey, intending and hoping to live a life of fidelity, but realistic about the challenges.
Dr. Brant Pitre is professor of sacred scripture at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, and a multimedia author. He is an extremely enthusiastic and engaging speaker who lectures regularly across the United States.
He has produced dozens of Bible studies on CD, DVD, and MP3, in which he explores the biblical foundations of Catholic faith and theology. He will offer his reflections on how the faithful can “pray the Scriptures.”
Bishop Fernand Cheri, OFM, will present the witness portion of the weekend. Bishop Cheri is a Franciscan Friar and is auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. He has dedicated years of his life to developing and supporting African-American liturgy and communities in the church. His strength and testimony comes from God’s Word in Scripture, “My grace is enough for you, for in weakness power reaches perfection.” (2Cor 12:9) Participants will be inspired as Bishop Cheri encourages them to “Go forth and witness.”
In addition to the keynotes, participants can select a one-day leadership option or select a liturgy or lights of hope track. The liturgy track is for anyone who serves the church through planning and participation in the various aspects of liturgy. However, catechists, teachers and catechetical leaders are also invited to participate in these sessions.
The lights of hope track is dedicated to those who work with high school-aged students in Catholic schools or parish programs.
A significant portion of the lights of hope sessions will be spent sharing best practices and approaches to concerns that are relevant to adolescents and teenagers.
Leadership Thursday is a new feature of GO! This day is designed for principals, clergy, lay ecclesial ministers and other leaders in schools and parishes.
The three themes are spiritual leadership, evangelization and the digital world. Speakers include Father David Caron, OP, vicar of evangelization, Archdiocese of New Orleans, Dr. Daniella Zsupan-Jerome and Paul Sanfrancesco.
Bishop Joseph Kopacz will celebrate the closing Mass for the conference. Register online at