Catechetical experts from across the U.S. will visit the Diocese of Buffalo from May 18 to 21 as part of the 79th annual National Conference for Catechetical Leadership which will take place at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.
Staff members of the diocesan Department of Lifelong Faith Formation, who are planning the conference, are looking forward to showcasing what the area has to offer as the event draws near.
"Buffalo was chosen for this event, for the gifts it has, for what it can do," said Mary Beth Coates, director of the Department of Lifelong Faith Formation. "I think we all can take pride in that. People are excited to come to Buffalo and are surprised by some of the hidden treasures we have. Some of the prayer spaces that we're planning on developing are going to highlight the richness of not only Buffalo, but also New York state and our spiritual heritage. It's a moment of pride."
Maureen Poulin, one of the Lifelong Faith Formation department's associate directors, said the planners have been soliciting a number of volunteers from around the diocese, who will be serving in hospitality and assisting with registration.
"We've got volunteers who'll be working with liturgy every day, and prayer experiences, as well as some of our local leaders, who will be doing presentations," Poulin said. "We will have a pretty significant face as part of the national conference."
The conference will be boasting a large roster of local speakers, including Cheryl Calire, director of Pro-Life Activities; Father Joseph Gatto, rector of Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora; and Kathryn Goller, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.
"Bishop (Richard J.) Malone is a keynote speaker," Coates said. "He made a welcome and an invitation for people to come to Buffalo. We tweeted it out in the diocese last week. (The video) has gone to the membership of NCCL as well."
Mario Vinti, also an associate director of the Department of Lifelong Faith Formation, said that Bishop Malone will be discussing the spirituality and prayer life of someone who is involved in leadership roles within the Church, related to catechetical ministry. Coates added that Bishop Malone served as the director of religious education in the Archdiocese of Boston.
"He has worked with parish leaders, and on the national scene as well," Coates said. "He knows the need to have a real heart for Christ, and an appreciation for what's driving our mission and ministry."
Coates said the conference will give people throughout the diocese a connection to the larger Church. She said it will be a time to meet and connect with people of all walks of life from around the country, many of whom share similar joys.
"One of the things a conference does is, it re-engages people in the vision of their ministry in another way," Poulin said. "Often, we get really bogged down in the day-to-day doing of something. To be able to step back and be involved in a national conference causes you to have the opportunity to reflect on what is it we are really about. Sometimes that means looking at what we're doing and making different choices."
According to Vinti, the conference sessions and workshops offer the opportunity for parish catechetical leaders to have their questions answered about how to approach particular problems in their parish or ministry. Many of the nation's leading experts in catechesis will be there, he said, to give attendees practical, hands-on answers to questions.
While catechetical leaders are usually thought of as associated with religious education, the conference is also aimed at other diocesan and parish leaders as well. Coates said it will have something for youth ministry leaders, RCIA coordinators, adult faith formation leaders and even clergy, all of whom are welcome to attend and hear what the diverse group of speakers has to say about faith formation.
Watch Bishop Malone's welcome video for the conference below:
For a full list of conference speakers and events or to register, call 716-847-5510 or visit www.nccl.org.