Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Diocese’s Catholic Conference 2003: ‘Real Presence in the Real Present’

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the Oct. 2, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)

A full slate of speakers on a wide range of topics fills the agenda for the 2003 Catholic Conference coming up Saturday, Oct. 25.

“Real Presence in the Real Present” is the theme of the 14th annual conference, sponsored by the Spokane Diocese. The event will take place at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Spokane.

Parish Services director Betty Newstrom and a committee of about eight people plan each year’s conference. They choose a keynote speaker and then draw on the wealth of local knowledge and talent available in this diocese and its neighboring dioceses for the many workshops scheduled during the day.

This year’s keynote speaker is Nathan Mitchell, professor of liturgy at the University of Notre Dame. His opening presentation, “Real Presence in the Real Present,” follows the conference’s 9:30 morning prayer. Mitchell is scheduled for two other talks on aspects of the Eucharist during the day as well.

Keynote speaker Nathan Mitchell is a former Benedictine monk who is a professor of liturgy in the department of theology at Notre Dame.

He grew up in the Midwest, and majored in the classics in college. He still reads works written in Latin and Greek for personal enjoyment. He earned a doctorate in theology at Notre Dame, and has had prior teaching assignments in Dallas, Texas, and Washington, D.C.

He is also associate director for research at the Center for Pastoral Liturgy. He has written several books and also writes a column for the publication Worship.

He said he travels “three or four times a year” to attend events such as the conference. “It’s a great learning opportunity for me,” he said, “to continue my education and see what’s going on in the pastoral life of the church.” Last year he spent a week in Coeur d’Alene giving lectures and workshops for the Diocese of Boise.

Mitchell has an optimistic view of the Church in spite of her current troubles. “I admit we have issues to deal with,” he said, “but I can’t feel pessimistic. We’ve hit a rough patch,” but the church will get through.

What makes him optimistic? The church catching up to the vision of Pope John XXIII. Mitchell described that as a vision of the talent and energy of the laity that were “just waiting to be released. How quickly the bishops so enthusiastically embraced that vision.” The years of the Council were a “wonderful and exciting time to be a part of the Church.”

Since then Mitchell sees a “real claiming of ministry by lay people. We now understand ministry collegially and collab-oratively,” he said. As a teacher of graduate students, Mitchell has further reason for his optimism. “The kind of students we’re seeing are wonderful lay men and women. So much of our future is in these lay ministers.

“We need priests, there is no doubt, but each minister in the assembly also has a place.”

“Having a place” is centered around Eucharist from which the life of the Church flows. It gives the Church a “sacramental identity,” he said, “which is central to Catholic life of the Church, and is the source and summit of our worship. Eucharist is the way we look at relating with God and with each other.”

Earlier catechesis taught the vertical dimension of “God, myself and the Host,” he said, but there is also a horizontal dimension, that of community. “We need both dimensions,” he said.

Mitchell will talk about the unity that Eucharist gives to the life of the Church in his keynote presentation and workshops.

The very first Catholic Conference was held in 1990 as a one-day event and was aimed at catechists. The focus has broadened since then and the purpose now is adult formation.

The conference includes 21 workshops scheduled in three sessions throughout the day. Some workshops build on each other; some complement each other; a few are offered only once.

Among the offerings this year are three workshops on music.

Leading those music workshops will be Fred Molek, director of worship in Greenburg, Penn., and editor of the GIA Quarterly. According to the advance publicity, “participants should expect to sing.”

For catechesists, there are workshops centered on children and on youth. Theresia Heffernan, director of religious education at Holy Trinity Parish in Beaverton, Ore., will give three workshops on helping children grow in faith. At the youth level, Ann LaBeck will give three workshops on the challenges of working with that age group. LaBeck is a youth minister in the Archdiocese of Seattle, currently working in St. Madeline Sophie Parish in Bellevue.

Dr. Duane Schafer, the diocesan Superintendent of Schools, will hold three listening sessions on the Catholic Education Centennial reflection papers and on the future of Catholic education. Interested persons who might want to look at the Centennial papers ahead of time can find them at the National Catholic Educators Association website. The address:

Bishop William Skylstad has given presentations at the Catholic Conference for many years. This year’s talk is titled “Justice – The Foundation for Peace.”

Also talking about justice will be Jesuit Father Michael Cook in a workshop titled “If You Want Peace, Work for Justice.” Father Cook teaches theology in the Religious Studies’ department at Gonzaga University in Spokane. The third workshop on justice, titled “Real Presence Among the Poor,” will be given by Scott Cooper, director of parish social ministries for Catholic Charities; Donna Hanson, director of Catholic Charities; and Deacon Gary Cooper, pastoral associate at St. Augustine Parish in Spokane.

One-time-only workshops include author and teacher Kathy Finley, who will talk about “Faith-full Love: Marriage in the Church.” Among the questions to be examined: what is needed to prepare well for marriage? How can a Catholic marriage of many years be annulled? Finley is an author and a teacher at Gonzaga University. Much of her work is focused on marriage and family life.

Father Steve Dublinski, the diocese’s vicar general, will talk about the changes in the celebration of the Eucharist, the reasons for the changes and their implications for parishes.

Father Dublinski was ordained in 1985 and recently completed a master’s degree in liturgy from the University of Notre Dame. He is chairman of the Diocesan Liturgy Committee and currently pastor of four rural parishes: St. Catherine, Oakesdale; Holy Rosary, Rosalia; Sacred Heart, Tekoa; and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. John.

Julianne Dickelman, chaplain at of Sacred Heart Medical Center, Spokane, will present a workshop on assessment and referral skills for home visitors. The workshop is aimed to help Eucharistic Ministers and other visitors to the sick how to look for signs for concerns and issues that may indicate a need for other kinds of help.

Dickelman is a board-certified chaplain. She gives many workshops and other training sessions for professional chaplains and health care workers, as well as those who visit the sick.

“Completion or Confusion – Celebrating Confirmation with First Eucharist” is the title of a workshop that will be given by Father Mike Savelesky. The workshop looks at old assumptions about sacraments and explores the pastoral effect of the revision in sacrament celebration.

Father Savelesky is pastor at Assumption Parish in Spokane. He is former editor of the Inland Register and continues to write the IR’s spirituality column. He holds a doctoral degree in religious studies from Louvain, Belgium.

(For information, call 358-7340. An ad with more information and a registration form can be found on the back page of the Oct. 2 edition of the Inland Register. Information also is available on the diocese’s web site.

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