Catholic evangelizers from 65 parishes across the country gathered in Baltimore, Maryland for the 2016 ChristLife National Training Conference. This conference is an annual opportunity to be inspired and equipped for implementing the entire ChristLife series. The conference also offers space for spiritual renewal and connecting with a vibrant community of priests, deacons, and laity who are eager to transform their parishes with the power of the Gospel.
This year people came to the conference for a variety of reasons. Some had encountered Jesus through the courses and wanted to learn how to serve in their parishes. Some had just learned about ChristLife and were curious to learn more. Some were looking for a renewal in their relationship with Jesus. Some were looking for ways to improve the ChristLife process in their parish. One third of the conference attendees were returning to the National Conference after attending last year… and many of those people brought new team members from their parish!
The mix of people was encouraging to everyone. One conference attendee shared, "Seeing the amount of people who are committed to evangelization is inspiring." Another said, "I was encouraged by meeting other people from all over the country who share my own feelings and hopes about Jesus."
The conference began with a keynote welcome from Archbishop William E. Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He stressed the importance of continually asking the question: Is Jesus Christ my personal Lord and Savior? Archbishop Lori then prompted everyone to consider if their relationship with Christ is cold and formal or warm and life giving. He ended by encouraging us with the truth that the work of evangelization has to stem from our own personal encounter with the love of Jesus Christ.
After the keynote, conference participants split into two separate sessions. In one session they began learning how to implement the ChristLife evangelization process in their parish, and in the other they discussed how to grow ChristLife to create a culture of missionary discipleship.
In the Core Training track, participants learned the nuts and bolts of running ChristLife in their parish. They also experienced a session of each course, including a sneak peek of the new Discovering Christ! One conference attendee shared, "I received encouragement to go forth with the process after seeing the difference it can make in people’s lives." Another said, "I wish all our group leaders and helpers were able to come to this inspiring conference."
In the Missionary Disciple track, attendees received spiritual enrichment through sessions on prayer ministry, being disciple makers, as well as praise and worship. One of the priests attending shared that the sessions "helped [him] to see more of a connection between [his] prayer life and other aspects of [his] life. [He] was also encouraged to have more boldness in prayer ministry as an adjunct for evangelizing."
Several conference attendees were encouraged in how the Lord is calling them to serve their parish. One person shared, "I learned more about myself and realized my contribution to the work [of evangelization] is essential."
At ChristLife, we were most blessed by seeing how the Lord worked in the hearts of everyone, including the team of staff and volunteers, over the three-day conference:
- "I felt very enriched spiritually and very convicted about how inward my faith had become. I feel encouraged and energized to grow more deeply so that I can be bold and courageous to share my faith."
- "Throughout the three days… I felt the work of the Holy Spirit and His presence in the participants. I’ve personally felt His Spirit more than ever."
- "It renewed and reawakened my zeal and desire to reach people for Christ."