Boston conference to focus on importance of Sabbath

People of faith in today's society are increasingly faced with the challenge of balancing work, youth sports and community events scheduled for during times that were once universally set aside for family and worship.

An ecumenical conference being held this month in Boston seeks to grapple with that problem.

Father Donald Conroy, of the Diocese of Greensburg, Pa. will be in Boston on Oct. 27 to speak on "Sabbath, Creation, and the Emerging Global Culture." His presentation will take place at 2:00 p.m., during the afternoon segment of the conference on "The Regenerative Sabbath: Sabbath, Sunday, and Renewal," to be held at Old South Church in Boston's Copley Square from 9:00 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.

Father Conroy founded the International Consortium on Religion and Ecology and served on the U.N. Advisory Committee on Environmental Sabbath/World Day of Rest. He wrote and co-edited "Earth at Risk: Advancing the Environmental Dialogue Between Religion and Science." He presently also serves as chaplain to the International Confederation of Christian Family Movements.

The conference is organized by the Lord's Day Alliance of the U.S. and supported by UniteBoston, the Institute for Christian Unity, Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries and other local groups, with consultation from the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Archdiocese of Boston.

"What's exciting about this is the way Catholics and Evangelicals and Orthodox and all sorts of Christians are working together to uphold the fundamental commandment to keep holy the Sabbath. What in our society touches us more than the pressure of time? We are living in an age of the monetization of even our last few moments of sacred rest. One of the cardinal meanings of keeping the Lord's Day sacred is that not everything can be priced," said the Rev. Dr. Rodney L. Petersen, executive director of the Lord's Day Alliance, USA.

Father Conroy's address will be followed by a series of talks by Christian and Jewish presenters modelled after the popular "TED Talks" series on the theme "How Do We Use Time?"

Among the speakers will be Paulist Father Tom Ryan of Boston, who directed the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, founded the ecumenical center Unitas Montreal, and now directs the Paulists' North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, headquartered in Boston.

In his talk, Father Ryan will discuss the papal and Church documents on Sabbath/Sunday issues, and on how our use of time can honor all creation as gift.

The erosion of the idea of the Sabbath has been an increasing concern for many faith group s, including the Catholic Church, in recent years.

In 2012, the USCCB-sponsored North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation issued a statement entitled "The Importance of Sunday" which said, "Recovering the theological significance of Sunday is fundamental to rebalancing our lives."

"For Christians, Sunday, The Lord's Day, is a special day consecrated to the service and worship of God. It is a unique Christian festival... On Sunday the Church assembles to realize her eschatological fullness in the Eucharist by which The Kingdom and the endless Day of the Lord are revealed in time. It is the perpetual first day of the new creation, a day of rejoicing," the statement also said.