Conference offers dynamic faith experience

It is not too late to sign up for the Gulf Coast Faith Formation Conference to be held in Kenner, La., on Jan. 12-14, 2017.  While the conference is hosted and sponsored by the Archdiocese of New Orleans, this year the diocesan directors for faith formation from other dioceses in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have worked collaboratively to present a truly regional conference.
We are expecting more than 1,000 people – laity, clergy and religious – from the Gulf Coast and throughout the United States attend. In its 35th year, the conference continues its heritage inspired by its previous namesake, Father Johannes Hofinger, SJ, a world-renowned missionary, evangelizer, teacher and catechetical leader.
This year’s theme, “Prayer: Our Faith Prayed and Lived,” will look at our role as Catholic leaders through a lens of prayer and prayerfulness.
We have been mindful to develop a conference that includes a little something for everyone. In addition to excellent catechetical presentations, there is a dedicated liturgy track as well as excellent break-out sessions for youth ministers and Catholic school teachers or administrators.
In short, the conference offers those involved in catechesis and evangelization in the Catholic Church an opportunity to enhance their ministries and to deepen their commitment to Jesus Christ through personal and professional development sessions with leaders in evangelization and catechetical ministry, liturgical celebrations and a variety of prayer experiences, formal and informal networking opportunities and thought-provoking and inspirational presentations.
New this year is Leadership Thursday which will include a presentation by Father David Caron, OP, on spiritual leadership and evangelization; Dr. Daniella Zsupan-Jerome on connection and communion and Paul Sanfrancesco on cultivating a faith-based digital community.
The conference will be buttressed by three keynote speakers who will bring to focus a three-fold action to Pray, Reflect and Witness.
PRAY: Sister Lynn McKenzie became a Benedictine Sister at Sacred Heart Monastery in Cullman, Ala., more than 35 years ago. As a Benedictine, she seeks to live a balanced life of prayer and work in keeping with the Benedictine motto of “Ora et Labora.” Her life of prayer in the community of Benedictine Sisters at Sacred Heart Monastery has been vital and life-giving. It is through prayer and community that she is able to live the Rule of St. Benedict. She 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. Sister Lynn says that “Prayer: Faith Prayed and Lived” is central to her life as a Benedictine Sister.
REFLECT: Dr. Brant Pitre is Professor of Sacred Scripture at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, La. He earned his Ph.D. in theology from the University of Notre Dame, where he specialized in the study of the New Testament and ancient Judaism. Dr. Pitre will offer his reflections on how we can “Pray the Scriptures.”
WITNESS: Bishop Ferdand Cheri is a Franciscan Friar of the Sacred Heart Province (St. Louis) and has been ordained for 37 years. He is auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Bishop Cheri has served as a member of the liturgical planning committee for the National Black Catholic Congress in Chicago, 2002; the planning committee for Unity Explosion, 1991, in New Orleans; the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy Subcommittee on Black Catholic Worship, 1984 to 1990; the National Joint Conference of Black Catholic Religious Planning Committee, 1983-1990; and the Black Catholic Theological Symposium, 1978. He is a revivalist, preaching across the country.
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) You will be inspired as Bishop Cheri encourages us to “Go forth and witness.”
You don’t want to miss the great liturgies, a hallmark of the conference, including the opening Mass with Archbishop Gregory Aymond presiding and the closing Mass on Saturday with Bishop Joseph Kopacz presiding. More than 60 breakout sessions are also included. Sign up today! For more information go to: We hope to see you there!

Focused tracks available:
Conference workshops are loosely organized into specific categories/tracks. Because of content some workshops can be found in more than one category/track.
 Adolescent Catechesis (Lights of Hope): 103, 203, 307, L30, 408, 409, 501, 506, 508, 608
 Adult Catechesis/RCIA: L12, 205, 303, L30, 408, L40, 502, 506, 602, 605
 Catholic Identity: 101, 201, 308, 404
 Discipleship: 102, 203, 204, 307, 402, 404, 407
 Elementary Catechesis: 204, 209, L30, L32, 406, 503, 601, 608
 Evangelization: Thursday-Caron, Keynote/Cheri, 106, 108, L12, L20, 309, 402, 408, 409, L40, 509, 603, 605
 Family Catechesis: 106, 107, 208, 305, 504
 Forms of Prayer: Keynote/Pitre, 104, 206, 209, 301, 302, 405, 406, 503, L52, 601, 606
 Pope Francis: 102, 206, 303, 304, 403, 505
 Special Needs/Disabilities: 202, 604
 Spirituality: Keynote/McKenzie, 105, 207, 301, 306, 309, 401, 603, 607
 Technology:  Thursday-Zsupan-Jerome, Sanfrancesco, 109, 508, 608
(Fran Lavelle is the Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Jackson.)