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Summer Conferences to Renew and Strengthen Catholics in Hope

Based on Spe Salvi of Pope Benedict XVI, this summer's conferences will be a "spiritual oasis"

Posted: Thursday, April 23, 2009

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ServiceSTEUBENVILLE, OH —This summer’s lineup of Franciscan University of Steubenville conferences invites people from all walks of life to be refreshed and renewed in “Christ Our Hope.” The conferences embrace Pope Benedict XVI’s message of his second encyclical on hope, Spe Salvi, and the theme of the pope’s visit to the United States last year.

Despite erosions in morals and Catholic principles in today’s culture and an unstable economy, Mark Nehrbas, executive director of Christian Outreach at Franciscan University, says, “We cannot let external circumstances shake our faith. Regardless of what happens in the world, our faith is rooted in Christ, who is our hope.

Nehrbas encourages Catholics from all walks of life, especially those who serve the Church as volunteers or professionals, to experience a summer “spiritual oasis” at Franciscan University and experience God’s love for them. “They will find encouragement in these troubled times, knowing that whatever their hardships and crosses, God has a plan for their lives.”

This year’s schedule features dozens of well-known speakers, scholars, and Church leaders, including Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Texas, Bishop Robert J. Baker of Birmingham, Alabama, Bishop Richard Malone of Portland, Maine, and Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, New Jersey.

Other notable speakers include Father David Toups, associate director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Office for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations; Franciscan University chancellor, Father Michael Scanlan, TOR; the popular authors Steve Ray, Ralph Martin, Robert Spencer, Kimberly Hahn, and Franciscan University’s own professors, Dr. Alan Schreck, Dr. Scott Hahn, Dr. John Bergsma, Scott Sollom, and many others.

A unique feature this year at both the Catholic Charismatic and Defending the Faith conferences will be a special track geared towards young adults in their 20s and 30s, featuring dynamic young Catholic speakers.

At all conferences there will be ample time for daily Mass, the sacrament of reconciliation, eucharistic adoration, and personal prayer.

For the first time, conference attendees will be able to receive a plenary indulgence by making a visit to the University’s tiny Portiuncula Chapel. The special designation comes in the form of a decree recently issued by the Vatican office of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

ServiceFranciscan University president, Father Terence Henry, TOR, said, “This is an extraordinarily gracious act by the Holy See that will provide an abundant outpouring of God’s mercy on the thousands of people who visit the Portiuncula Chapel every year.”

Franciscan University will also reach out to nearly 38,000 teens across the United States and Canada through 19 youth conferences this summer. The theme “Above All,” echoes the Scripture 1 Chronicles 29:11 that attributes all heavenly and earthly power, glory, and victory to God, who is “exalted as head above all.” For youth conference information, visit

Adult conference news and registration information can be found on or by calling the Christian Conference Office at 800-437-8368. Franciscan University of Steubenville is 40 miles west of Pittsburgh, and about a half-hour drive from the Pittsburgh Airport (PIT). Accommodations are available on campus and at nearby hotels. More information on accommodations is available at the website.

2009 Adult Conference Schedule: “Christ Our Hope”

June 15-19 Priests, Deacons, and Seminarians, “Strengthened in Hope”

Despite the great challenges of the ordained ministry, God has provided untold sources of strength. He wants to give priests, deacons, and seminarians everything they need to preach the Gospel today.

July 14-16 Religious Sisters, “Intimacy in Prayer”

Christian hope is not found in an idea or a theory, but in a Person. Sisters can learn how to grow in intimacy with the Three Persons of the Triune God through prayer and learn what doctors of the Church teach about prayer.

July 17-19 Catholic Charismatic, “Charisms in the Life and Mission of the Church”

A Charism School led by preacher and healing minister Damian Stayne, founder of the London-based Cor et Lumen Christi Community, will teach attendees to yield more fully to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and commission them to evangelize to the Church and the world.

July 22-26 St. John Bosco Conference for Catechists and Religious Educators, “The Church and Mary: Proclaiming Hope in Christ”

God is calling religious educators to proclaim and witness to the hope of the Church even in the opposing messages of today’s culture and media. Participants will learn how to draw upon the witness of Mary, the bearer of Hope, to lead others to Christ, and be strengthened to pass down the deposit of faith to the next generation.

July 29-31 Institute of Applied Biblical Studies, “The Gospel of John”

Speakers will explore the signs of hope in John’s Gospel, including the sign of the Jewish Passover, Resurrection, Eucharist, and Mary as a model of Christian hope. Special workshops qualify participants to lead the St. Paul Center’s exciting Journey Through Scripture series in their own parishes.

July 31-August 2 Defending the Faith, “Reasons for Hope”

A full panel of speakers and workshop presenters will explore the reasons for hope in Catholic tradition and sacred Scripture, the lives of the saints and apostles, and the example of Pope Benedict XVI, a preacher of hope.

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