ChristLife partnered with the Diocese of Syracuse to present a Discovering Christ conference on September 23-24, 2016 at Our Lady of Peace Church in Syracuse, NY. This was our second time partnering with the diocese to present a training conference on the first piece of the ChristLife evangelization process. Over 60 people attended the conference, representing 22 parishes.
People traveled far distances to attend this training—parishes from Steubenville, OH; Ontario, Canada; and Vicksburg, MS!
The conference was opened by Mary Hallman, director of the Evangelization Office, and Jennifer King, Communication Director for ChristLife. They emphasized the purpose of the conference—which is not only to receive training, but also to be refreshed in their own relationship with Jesus. One participant commented the conference “made me evaluate my own personal relationship and journey with Christ; to strive for a deeper faith.” Another said, “[The conference] gave me an opportunity to reflect on how I am lacking and how I need to respond to Christ.”
Dave Nodar began by outlining what the Church has taught about evangelization through the years. He shared that, "We want to aim at bringing people into relationship with Jesus and His Church."
Fr. Mike Saporito followed by sharing how Discovering Christ works as an evangelization tool. He said, “Catechesis before evangelization is like giving someone a map to where they don't want to go."
Saturday began with Mass celebrated by Fr. Mike Saporito and several priests who were attending the conference. In the homily, Fr. Saporito reminded us that every moment we have is a gift and opportunity to share the love of Jesus Christ.
The conference provided many opportunities to network with other Catholic leaders who are actively engaged in the work of evangelization. One participant said, "meeting people from other parishes helped with ideas for taking the steps to offer this at my parish." The conference was a fruitful experience, even for people who already received training in ChristLife! Someone shared, "I attended a ChristLife conference a year ago and was hesitant to attend again. I felt blessed and renewed in my faith today and came away with a few new ideas to incorporate into our course, which begins this month."
Throughout the weekend there were opportunities for fellowship, times of prayer, small group discussion, and times of praise and worship. As people left, our hope was that they would feel inspired for the work of evangelization. Based on the course evaluations, many did:
"The conference helped me recall the welcoming feeling from Discovering Christ sessions. It reminded me of why we want to do this in my home parish."
"It inspired me to keep working toward a richer, deeper relationship with Christ and stronger faith."
"It gave me joy that as a Catholic I am able to share my faith."
"The conference was a good opportunity to hit the pause button to refocus and recharge the spiritual battery."
All quotes are from conference evaluations.