Tuesday, May 31, 2016

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Catholic Education Daily


Youth and Religious Educators Encounter God at Franciscan Univ. Conferences

The summer conferences of Franciscan University of Steubenville continued this summer with two events held recently – one for teens and one for religious educators, the University reports.

From July 11-13, Franciscan held it’s fourth of five on-campus Youth Conferences covering this year’s theme, “God is Real.”

“We all have a different idea, perspective, thought of who God is,” youth minister David Calavitta reportedly told the teens during an opening talk. “And the even greater reality is that God is not who we think he is. He is more. Our thought of God is the single most important thought you will ever have, because your thought of God determines who you let him be in your life."

At the end of the weekend students were reminded to continue encountering God outside of the conference. "You shape culture,” Calavitta reportedly said. “Do not underestimate your power. The very hinge of salvation, the Incarnation, once depended on a 13-year-old girl. All of us are called to say 'we are not too young.'"

Throughout the weekend students were presented with opportunities to attend Mass, go to Confession, and participate in a Eucharistic Procession, in addition to attending talks. Some of the talk topics included answering the arguments used against God, finding God amidst suffering, and accepting Jesus as the Savior.

Following the Youth Conference, the University welcomed religious educators for the St. John Bosco Conference from July 14-17. The goal of this conference, reportedly said Ron Bolster, director of catechetics at Franciscan, is “for those engaged in the work of making disciples—in parishes, schools, on the streets—to gather for renewal, prayer, fellowship, and formation."

Themes included forming an active relationship with Christ, Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium, and centering evangelization on Jesus’ sacrifice.

A key speaker was author Sherry Weddell, co-founder of the Catherine of Siena Institute "The Church distinguishes between the virtue of faith, the capacity given at baptism, and actual faith, the personal yes to a personal Lord,” she reportedly told participants. “Our children and teens have received the first. How many have acted on or even know about the second?"

Weddell also spoke about cultivating a personal relationship with Christ and the necessity of evangelization for helping youth discern their vocations. Other talk topics included Pope Francis and his call for the Church to focus on missionary discipleship, and emphasizing strengthening the family in education.

One participant at the conference said on the Franciscan website, "Looking at the whole aspect of educating our young people and adults, this helps me deepen my faith to bring it back to the parish."

Franciscan University of Steubenville is recommended by The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity.

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