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Liturgical conference invites lay ministers to ‘Pray, Believe, Live’

091620liturgical con keynote

Father Richard Fragomeni, chairman of the department of word and worship at the Chicago Theological and presbyter of the Diocese of Albany, New York, makes a point during his keynote presentation to faithful gathered for a diocesan liturical conference at Navitiy of Our Savior in Portage in 2018.  Father Fragomeni will return to the Diocese of Gary to lead thje English-language session of Conference '20, set for Oct. 10 at St. Patrick in Chesterton. (File photo/ Anthony D. Alonzo )



Northwest Indiana Catholic


      CHESTERTON – In an effort to be as welcoming as possible in this challenging time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Offices of Worship and Intercultural Ministry have modified the Diocese of Gary’s annual liturgical conference to be as inclusive as possible.

      Set for Saturday, Oct. 10, at St. Patrick in Chesterton, this year’s Conference ’20 has been trimmed to a half-day, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., eliminating the need for a meal break, and will have an in-person option for up to 150 lay ministers and a livestream component for those who prefer to participate remotely.

      There is also no charge to attend this year’s conference.

      The theme is “Pray. Believe. Live. (Repeat)” or “Ora. Cree. Vive (Repite),” since there will be concurrent sessions offered in English and Spanish.

      The English-speaking session will be led by Father Richard Fragomeni, a member of the faculty at the Catholic Theological in Chicago since 1990 and adjunct member of the Department of Religious Studies at DePaul University, who gave the keynote address at the Diocese of Gary’s Conference ’18.

      Father Fragomeni, a presbyter of the Diocese of Albany, New York and rector of The Shrine of the Lady of Pompeii, an Italian-American spiritual center in Chicago, is a preacher of parish missions and gives presentations nationally and internationally on liturgical, sacramental, and catechetical topics.

      His teaching involves him in Roman Catholic theology, interpretation theory, and poetry. Central to this work is a fascination with the power of liturgy and preaching in the transformation of the human heart.

      The Spanish-language speaker will be Father Andres Beltran Arias from Chicago, who was born in San Carlos Antioquia (Colombia). Having completed philosophical and theological studies, he holds a master’s degree in religious education, and diplomas in Resource and Administration, Forgiveness and Reconciliation and Conflict Management and Youth Pastoral. He serves as a speaker and pastoral animator.

      Following check-in, the conference will begin at 9 a.m. with Morning Prayer led by Bishop Robert J. McClory, followed by attendees choosing the English or Spanish session, which will each be divided into three parts with periods of reflection in between. Coffee and water will be available.

      Since most parishes are not adding ministry volunteers during the pandemic, training sessions were not slated this year at the conference. Yet David Herr said the gathering itself serves a unique purpose. “We feel it is important to have some kind of spiritual renewal for liturgical ministers every year,” he said. “In fact, we regard it as essential as we gather and remember – we are all in this together.”

      “In this very uncertain time, it is nice to recall what we were called to at our baptism,” said Herr, assistant to the Office of Worship. “We’ll be focusing on how we are initiated into a pattern of prayer, belief and life when we are baptized. Hopefully, this will refresh our perspective on how to live out our various ministries.”

      “In baptism we are named Priest – people of prayer for others, Prophet – people who see and speak God’s vision, and King – leaders for our community,” Herr said. “The events of this past year have placed us in a position of uncertainty which has affected how we pray and live, and may even challenge our beliefs.

      “As liturgical ministers, both lay and ordained, we find ourselves in the position of leading/guiding others in prayer and worship,” noted Herr. Questions that this year’s Conference ’20 seeks to address include: How can I pray and lead others to prayer in this time of overwhelming outside pressures? What can I do to strengthen my and others’ beliefs in the Body of Christ and the power of the community of Jesus? What is necessary to lead/help others in the midst of troubling uncertainty?

      Registration for this year’s conference, open to Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Comm, lectors, music ministers, greeters and ushers, ministers of care and art & environment ministers, will go through the parishes. Parish representatives have received registration forms to distribute online; contact your parish if you have not received one.

      “We’d like to include as many liturgical ministers as we can, especially since we have the remote option,” said Herr. “Especially urged to attend are those who feel lost in the desert, those looking to find some spiritual renewal, and those who may feel troubled in this time of uncertainty or who feel they want to help others and inspire those to whom they reach out.”

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