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

Annual Catholic Conference calls participants to be ‘Proclaimers of Faith, Prophets to Culture’

by Jami LeBrun, Inland Register staff

(From the Nov. 11, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)

The 2004 Catholic Conference, “Proclaimers of Faith, Prophets to Culture,” was attended by 168 people on Saturday, Oct. 30 at the Ridpath Hotel.

Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, the keynote speaker, challenged the audience to capture the imaginations of today’s young people, to use the current communication technologies and media outlets to proclaim the Gospel and to become the prophets of today.

“We should be preparing our young people to be really great artists, because that’s how we communicate our faith,” said Sister Angela Ann, as she described the stories, paintings, and even movies that have been used to communicate the Gospel through generations.

Sister Angela Ann explained how to use the “language of the day” to spread the Gospel, using the examples of writers like J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter), Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code), and J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings).

Sister Angela Ann told the attentive audience to use a kaleidoscope approach to spreading the faith: use a wide variety of ways to communicate the Gospel and branch out from the traditional forms of religious education and preaching so many people associate with Catholicism.

“We have to meet people where they’re at,” she said.

Sister Angela Ann concluded by challenging the audience to see themselves as “artisans of faith,” to use their imaginations to serve one another and help one another succeed.

After the keynote speech, conference participants attended a variety of workshops led by clergy, religious, catechists and authors from all over the Pacific Northwest. Workshop topics were wide ranging and included such themes as catechesis, contemporary film and spirituality.

Msgr. John Steiner, Co-Vicar General for the Spokane Diocese and pastor of St. Mary Parish, Spokane Valley, gave a workshop on sin and forgiveness.

Msgr. Steiner described the evolution of the Sacrament of Reconciliation into what it is today and talked about the possible impact the grace-filled sacrament might have for future generations. He described how assigned penances have changed from a challenge to the individual to change his or her behavior into a reliance on grace.

“The real issue with Confession is conversion,” said Msgr. Steiner. “Individual behavior change is hard to pull off. Change comes from the grace of God and the forgiveness of the Church brings the grace of God.”

Conference participants Brenda Wheeler and her daughter Brittany are active in ministry at Holy Family Parish at Fairchild Air Force Base.

“The Catholic Conference is a great way to generate new ideas and to refresh myself,” said Brenda Wheeler. “I really enjoyed the keynote speaker. She gave me a lot of ideas for helping the high school youth in the youth group in a way that’s not boring.”

The two also attended Sue Harmon’s workshop, titled “Introducing Young Children to the Bible.”

“It really gave me a lot of ideas to use for my class,” said Brittany, who teaches the Bible to 4-year-olds at Holy Family. “It’s important to learn ways to communicate with very young children.”

Rob Billiau is the new Youth Minister at Our Lady of the Lake in Tum Tum, Wash. He attended the Catholic Conference for the first time. “This is a great opportunity for me to further my youth ministry and catechetical training,” he said.

Next year’s Catholic Conference is set for Oct. 22. For more information, contact the Parish Services Office: (509) 358-7340.

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