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CoWorkers Conference to focus on 'Prayer in the Parish'


Keynote speaker Maureen O'Brien Courtesy photo

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BRAINTREE -- A nine-year veteran of Boston College's Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry will join Msgr. James P. Moroney on April 12 as a keynote speaker at the 6th Annual CoWorkers in the Vineyard Conference at Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in Newton.

Sponsored by the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization's Master of Arts in Ministry Program at St. John's Seminary, the Secretariats of Parish Life and Leadership, and Faith Formation and Evangelization of the archdiocese, the event will focus on the theme "Moving from Spiritual to Religious: Prayer in the Parish."

Organizers said the theme also takes inspiration from the fourth section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church entitled "Christian Prayer."

"We are looking at prayer in the parish, that is how we chose our theme, but in light of the transitions that the pastoral plan is going to bring about," said Aldona Lingertat, director of the Master of Arts in Ministry program at St. John's Seminary in Brighton.

Lingertat said the CoWorkers in the Vineyard Conference is geared to those in parish leadership, including pastors, parochial vicars, staff, deacons, religious, lay ecclesial ministers, pastoral councils, finance councils and the volunteer leadership in parish ministries.

"We welcome all of them for a day of enrichment, coming together as a group to talk about prayer in the parish, especially in face of the upcoming pastoral plan," Lingertat said.

Msgr. James Moroney, the rector at St. John's Seminary, will start the event with his talk "From Spiritual to Religious: Prayer in the Life of a Parish" after an opening Mass.

"I know that he will be very effective. He knows how to focus and accent important points," Lingertat said.

After the opening keynote, Sister Pat Boyle, CSJ, associate director of pastoral planning, will present an update on the pastoral planning process.

Maureen O'Brien, currently a theology professor at Duquesne University and former associate director for Academic Affairs at Boston College's Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry, will deliver the day's keynote address, "Emerging from the Vineyard: The Spirituality of Lay Ecclesial Ministers in Their Own Voices."

"She is a brilliant young woman who speaks very clearly and very insightfully," Lingertat said.

Breakout sessions after the keynotes will maintain a focus on prayer in parishes and times of transition.

Father John Grimes, pastor at Most Precious Blood in Dover and St. Theresa of Lisieux in Sherborn, will speak on guiding transitions within parishes during his talk "Parish Configuration: Guiding Transitions."

Father George Evans will give his talk about the significance of prayer life in a parish setting "Personal Prayer in Parishes."

Ken Meltz and Lingertat will lead "Lay Ecclesial Ministry: Skills for the Journey," a panel discussion to address questions that arise for lay ecclesial ministers as the Pastoral Plan takes effect in the future.

Mary Ann McLaughlin, co-director of the Office of Worship and Spiritual Life, will lead a panel discussion on best practices for pastoral planning at a parish level entitled "Best Prayers Practices in Parishes" just before the conference closes with a closing prayer and song.

"We are hoping that the theme of prayer will help give a solid foundation for all that will be asked of us as the Pastoral Plan comes to fruition," Lingertat said.

Lingertat extended an invitation to all attending priests to concelebrate at the opening Mass at 9:30 in the morning.

Our Sunday Visitor, a Catholic publisher, provided a grant to fund the conference.

"I am very grateful to Our Sunday Visitor for their sponsorship of our conference. They have continued to sponsor it over a number of years and we are very grateful," Lingertat said.

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