The Kind of Church We Want to Be

By : November 11, 2013

Matter13Staff-4

Friday, November 8 we hosted our first ever conference for other churches. We called it “matter.” The purpose of the conference was to inspire, encourage, equip and challenge Catholic parishes to awaken the faithful, reach the lost and make church matter.

The conference sold out 550 seats; we added 50 more and they sold out too. Besides the 600 in attendance, well over 2,000 devices logged onto the conference on line. Attendees came from 25 different states and Canada, representing hundreds of parishes. In attendance were pastors, religious educators, youth ministers, and every other kind of parish minister you could name.

Three keynote addresses, more than a dozen breakouts, amazing music, fun and fellowship, it was an incredible day. While our staff will, in due time, critically evaluate the conference, for the time being we’re just enjoying that feeling that comes when most everything goes as planned.

There are a hundred stories I could share from the day, and others on staff probably have even more. Like the night before the conference when a group of us were out to dinner, where we were approached by another group from a parish in Tennessee. There were 25 of them and they wanted to tell us they were very excited. Or the woman one of our staff ran into who was weeping after the opening session.  The staff member reached out to comfort her and she said “There is hope for my parish.” Or the pastor who came up to hug me and thank me and said, “I feel like I’m not alone any more in this.”

I could tell lots of stories, but one moment sort of sums it all up for me. At the end of a long day, all our volunteer ministers (100 + of them) were standing the Great Hall (because there were no seats for them in the church). And as the guests began to exit our ministers spontaneously formed a kind of chute for them to pass through. And then they did something else, also entirely spontaneous: our ministers began to applaud our guests. More than a few of whom left in tears.

That evening I went home thinking: today we were the kind of church we want to be.

 

Our conference director, Kellie Caddick, joins me in thanking everyone who helped make matter13 happen.

Comments

  1. Marianne Cummins says:

    Many thanks to you, Fr. White, and to ALL the ministers of the parish of the Nativity who presented such an inspiring, exciting, uplifting, challenging Conference.

  2. James Simon says:

    So glad to have been part of this experience. So grateful to God for leading us to this church.

  3. kathy wilmot says:

    I was one of the ministers in the hall and you’re right- the applause, the singing, thanking everyone and hugging many as they passed by was all sponatneous – and it felt great! I must have had 20 people hug me as they left- some of them thanking us for such a wonderful and inspiring day. I was very proud to be a member of Nativity that day.

  4. Andrea says:

    My parents attended this conference from Rochester NY. My husband and I are also from Rochester and were in Maryland last weekend, too, with our 3 children. My husband had a conference in DC, so while he was there my parents went back to your church with my 10-year-old daughter for the 5:30 Mass. My 10-year-old has been giving us a terrible time about going to church; it has created a lot of stress and turmoil. Our daughter returned from Mass full of smiles and said, “If church was like that, I’d want to go.” If only we could commute every weekend to Maryland. I will share Rebuilt with our parish…just wish change could happen more quickly before our children are grown. Best wishes and thank you for sharing your experience and success!

  5. Father White…..you nailed it. We came with a group of 5 from Steamboat Springs, Colorado. We left invigorated, a little bit nervous and inspired to go and find “Steamboat Steve”. Thank you!

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