April 25, 2013 STEUBENVILLE, OH—Founded in 1991, the Defending the Faith Conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville has prepared tens of thousands of Catholics to “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope…with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Peter 3:15-16).With the theme “Faith Transforming Culture,” this year’s conference answers the call of the Year of Faith for Catholics to live out the new evangelization in all facets of their lives.“Never has the need been so great for Catholics to mobilize to transform the culture for Christ,” says conference co-host Dr. Scott Hahn. “This conference will energize Catholics to go forth and share the Gospel in exciting and effective ways.”From July 26-28, a team of renowned speakers and evangelists will address such topics as “The First Culture to Be Transformed: Our Own Hearts,” “New Media, New Evangelization: How to Evangelize Online,” and “Beyond Sunday: Becoming a 24/7 Catholic.”Dr. Scott Hahn, who holds Franciscan University's Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization, will give Saturday evening’s keynote address, “Consuming the Word: Liturgical Worship as Spiritual Warfare.”Mark Hart, executive vice president for Life Teen International and best-selling author, will explain how to navigate the generational divide in “Culture Clash: Communicating Christ to the Next Generation” at a Friday afternoon session for early arrivals.Jeff Cavins, creator of the Great Adventure Bible study and former host of EWTN’s Life on the Rock, will discuss how Catholics need to be “Offering the World a Better Life!” at a Friday afternoon session for early arrivals.Kimberly Hahn, Catholic homemaker and bestselling author, will speak from experience on building up “Generations for Christ: Heritage of Faith” in her Sunday morning session.Apologist and author Patrick Madrid will lead the entertaining and informative “Stump the Apologist” workshop, while Mark Shea, long-time Catholic blogger and author of several noted works of apologetics, discusses “Mary, Mother of the Son.”Dr. Peter Kreeft, philosophy professor at Boston College and popular author, has been practicing the new evangelization for decades. Kreeft comes to Franciscan University to speak on “How to Lose the Culture War.”In obedience to the Church's call to study the teachings of Vatican II during this Year of Faith, Dr. Ralph Martin, consultor to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, will examine “Vatican II and Lay Mission.”Dr. Edward Sri, FOCUS cofounder and popular author, will give Friday evening’s keynote talk, “Mary, Star of the New Evangelization: Our Lady's Spiritual Journey and the Year of Faith.”Teresa Tomeo, EWTN host and author of Extreme Makeover: Women Transformed by Christ, and Brandon Vogt, blogger, Catholic convert, and editor of The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet, will also present workshop sessions during the conference.A much-anticipated tradition at Defending the Faith is the keynote testimonial. This year’s presenter is blogger and former Presbyterian minister Jason Stellman. After receiving his MDiv in 2004, Stellman founded Exile Presbyterian Church in the Seattle area and served as senior pastor until the spring of 2012, when he resigned from the ministry to pursue full communion with the Catholic Church. Stellman entered the Church that same year, though his family remains practicing Presbyterians.“The Year of Faith is a vital part of the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI’s last months on the chair of Peter,” says Michael Hernon, conference co-host and Franciscan University's vice president of Advancement. “With this conference, we’ve answered his challenge to draw upon the riches of Vatican II to help form Catholics for the new evangelization.”The weekend also includes daily Mass, ample opportunity for confession and time for personal prayer, including eucharistic adoration in the Portiuncula Chapel. Bishop Jeffrey Monforton of the Diocese of Steubenville will be the principal celebrant and homilist at Sunday's Mass. Father Sean Sheridan, TOR, canon lawyer, theology professor, and president elect of Franciscan University of Steubenville, will celebrate Saturday’s Mass and an evening Holy Hour.Leading up to the Defending the Faith Conference, Franciscan University will offer the Applied Biblical Studies Conference, July 24-26, which immerses participants in biblical theology and includes the option of certification to present the “Journey Through Scripture” Bible study in parishes.Speakers at the Applied Biblical Studies Conference include Cardinal Thomas Collins, archbishop of Toronto, Ontario; Dr. Scott Hahn, Dr. Mary Healy, Dr. Brant Pitre, Father Mitch Pacwa, SJ, and Jeff Cavins.For more information about both conferences, go to www.franciscanconferences.com or call 1-800-437-8368. There is a special registration rate for religious sisters, brothers, seminarians, and anyone under the age of 30. Grants are available for priests, deacons, or seminarians from California or the Pacific Northwest.