Hundreds attend first Northeast Family Conference

EASTON — There are excellent weekend conferences for men and for women, some for couples, and others for teenagers, but very few if any for the entire family, thought Father Michael Harrington of St. Paul Parish in Wellesley. That was two years ago and after much planning the first Northeast Catholic Family Conference was held July 16-17 at Stonehill College. Nearly 800 people attended the conference, which was themed “Making the Faith Visible.”

"People kept coming up to me saying they liked that it was a family conference, where everyone could participate and enjoy themselves as family," said Father Harrington. "We wanted to plan something for everyone, something that would speak to everyone's hearts. Here was an event where you could bring the family to pray together."

Many people worked tirelessly to put the event together, recruiting guest speakers for the many workshops available for adults. Topics of the seminars included “Raising Catholic Children in a Secular Age,” “Family Prayer,” “Living the Gospel of Life in a Culture of Death” and “Evangelizing through the Rosary.” The weekend was focused on strengthening the family and passing on faith to the next generation.

In addition to the workshops, there were separate keynote addresses on both days of the conference as well as activities throughout the day for children, teens and adults. Mass was celebrated on both Saturday and Sunday and Saturday evening featured a eucharistic procession and Holy Hour led by Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley.

"We hope this conference will help us to become models of holiness in our families and as our families become stronger in faith, our communities and our world become stronger," said Susan Wallace, director of external relations at Holy Cross Family Ministries, who helped organize the event. "You have to start with the family, which is the domestic Church."

Earline Tweedie felt that the conference would be a good opportunity for her family to spend quality time together in an atmosphere of faith. After expressing her desire to attend the conference, her parish, St. Michael in North Andover offered to send her, her husband and their four children. “We came to be supported in our values and beliefs as a Catholic family,” she said. “There is not always a lot of support out in the world. It’s nice to be where people are all on the same page.”

The weekend began with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Daniel P. Reilly, bishop emeritus of the Worcester diocese and Massachusetts state chaplain for the Knights of the Columbus. In his homily, he praised the families gathered for taking the opportunity to “rejuvenate their faith.”

"So many of our Catholic people go around half dead," he said. "If we really knew what we were talking about when we proclaim the Catholic faith, we would be alive with it all the time."

He went on to state that many of us do not bear witness to our faith in public because we are afraid to offend people. However “There is no place the Church can’t be,” he said. “We have to bring it everywhere … especially in our families.”

Today’s secular culture downplays not only the importance of religion but also that of family. As Catholics, “we profess the enduring necessity of marriage and family life that can be traced to the providential plan of God,” said Bishop Reilly, who was one of nine children growing up during the Great Depression.

Referring to the conference’s theme, “Making the Faith Visible,” Bishop Reilly exhorted the assembly saying, “We must let the world hear what we believe. Let people see that we are followers of Christ. We cannot hide the light of our faith any longer.”

Telling people about your faith is not always easy, but opportunities to come together for strength, like the family conference, help, said Jim Riley, a parishioner at St. Mary Parish in Mansfield, who was in charge of finance and fundraising for the conference. One of eight children, he said it is important for faith to be present in the family.

"My parents lived their faith and shared it with us and they invited us to share it with our children," he said. "We need to pass on the faith to our children and they need to experience it for themselves."

The Saturday keynote address was given by Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus and a member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and a consulter to the Pontifical Council for the Family.

"The personal, loving community of the Trinity is the first model of any community and the model on which all families are based," he told attendees. "The family, because it reflects the Trinity, is the first culture of life and love."

Referencing the writings of Pope John Paul II’s, Anderson reminded the assembly that God created man through love for love. “God inscribed in humanity the vocation for love and communion,” he said. This capacity to love compels us to protect the dignity of each person and calls us to work for the renewal of the Church, Anderson continued.

"There is no other cause for us than of renewal and evangelization," he said. "The evangelization of our culture can only proceed through the daily witness of families, communities and associations," of faith.

In face of society’s assault on morality, “we will not permit the institution of the family to stand along to face the wolves,” said Anderson. “The future of the family is too important to leave to those who would manipulate it.”

Archbishop O’Malley also spoke of sharing faith with others and making present the kingdom of heaven on earth when he celebrated Mass for conference participants on Sunday July 17. When we follow Christ, His kingdom of love, truth and justice begins to grow in our hearts, he said during his homily.

Speaking about the Gospel in which Jesus teaches about the kingdom of heaven in parables, Archbishop O’Malley said that Jesus teaches us that God is our father. “God is the perfect father, who is present in our lives, who protects us and sustains us,” he said. “He loves us with a love that is beyond all our imaginations.”

In the Bible the Greek word “Abba,” which Jesus uses to refer to God is “much more intimate and affectionate than simply saying father,” said Archbishop O’Malley. “Jesus is teaching us to turn to God with trust and love … If we really believe that God is our father and trust Him then we believe that what he wants for us is the very best thing that could happen” to us.

"Heaven begins right here on earth when we begin to do God's will lovingly," Archbishop O'Malley continued. "There is much spiritual starvation in the world ... Jesus wants to be invited into our lives freely, for us to say come stay with us, remain with us."

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...

Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

Catholic workers say U.S. aid cuts to Palestinians could be disastrous

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- The U.S. budgetary cuts to humanitarian aid institutions helping Palestinians could lead to long-term disastrous consequences, said ...