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LOWELL -- Hope Conference 2019 kicked off with a powerful jump-start last Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium as doors opened at 8 a.m. sharp. This was the third annual conference arranged by Hope Conferences, Inc., a small group of Catholic men and women in the New England area who have been involved in holding retreats and conferences in this region for over 20 years.
This year's full-day event focused on the infinite mercy of God -- with talks by Alexis Walkenstein, Emmy Award winning TV journalist, radio host, and author; Allison Gingras, blogger, author, and speaker; Father Willy Raymond, president of Holy Cross Family Ministries and successor to Father Patrick Peyton; and Jesse Romero, radio host, former police officer, professional boxer, author, and international speaker.
Throughout the day, Delmore Worship, the well-known praise and worship band from the Dedham area, provided their Christian contemporary music to the crowd of almost 700 attendees. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was a solemn highlight of the day, as Father Volney DeRosia from St. Patrick Parish in Pelham, New Hampshire, carried the monstrance from row to row for all to experience the profound gift of the true presence close-up.
With the assistance of the Knights of Columbus, who have been an important part of this event each year, Bishop Robert Hennessey was warmly welcomed by the crowd to celebrate the final closing Mass at the end of the day.
Bishop Hennessey shared his wit and wisdom during the homily, reminding all participants of the vital importance of sharing their love for their Catholic faith with future generations, stating that it would be parents and grandparents who would have the biggest influence on their families' lives, not theologians or professors.
The organizers of the event said the impact of the conference was palpable, as participants recounted the joy and insights that left them in awe after the day was over. They added that the stories of faith being awakened and many returning to the Church with greater zeal are always the most rewarding.
"Only God can do what we witness here during these conferences. It's all about him," said Christine Lemieux, one of the organizers.