This week we hosted one of the biggest, boldest, and quite possibly, bravest Catholic Church conferences anywhere, all about the heart of the whole Church which is the parish church. Our main sessions, keynotes, breakouts, round table discussions, and Q & A’s were all about enlightening, inspiring, and equipping parish leaders to lead their parishes in rebuilding. The experience was everything it proposed to be (and much, much more) and doubtless will be a game changer in the life of many of the attendees. I could write a book on the experience (in fact, maybe I will) but here I just want to offer some thank you’s.
Thanks to Our Conference Attendees
Coming from 30 States and 10 different countries, over 1,000 parish leaders attended in person, selling out the Conference. Others attended online (including our friends in Halifax Canada, St. Benedict’s Parish, who made it an all call staff gathering). Our most far flung attendee came from New Zealand, our closest from just next door in Hunt Valley.
The reach and diversity of the gathering suggests the makings of a movement, but it only comes at the expense and sacrifice of attendees themselves. Parish budgets don’t usually have a lot of extra room for conferences, and making the trip was a sacrificial exercise for many. It is also an act of humility to come and learn from others about what you yourself do. And there is also a certain entrepreneurial boldness that they should be commended for as well. I am quite confident that it was a gathering of many of the best and the brightest when it comes to parish leaders.
Thanks to Our Member Ministers
Hats off to the 175 member ministers who helped host this conference, obviously we could not have done it without you.
Many took time off from work or school, or stepped away from other daily duties. Some even opened up their homes to house attendees. Everyone worked long hours in the days leading up to the conference as well as during the event. There were ministers here when I arrived in the morning and there were ministers here when I left in the evening. To truly underscore the impact they had on the conference, let me tell you the number one comment/question I got was “Where did these people come from?”
Thanks to Our Staff
Kellie Caddick, our Conference Director (and Director of Marketing Communications), joins me in extending heartfelt thanks to our adjunct staff, creative partners, and vendors for another amazing job. They set the bar high for themselves and they made achieving it look easy. No complaints, no drama, no weak links.
Sue Mihok, our Director of Operations, joins me in thanking our Ops Team for tireless efforts undertaking a Herculean schedule of set-up, knock-down, clean up.
Mike Hamilton, our Director of Worship Arts, joins me in thanking all the musicians, who simply left the crowds breathless.
Alison DeMartin, our Staff Director, joins me, in a special way, to thank all our full and part time staff for service above and beyond the call of duty. And that is literally the case: they hosted the event in addition to their regular duties (which don’t go away or diminish just because there’s a conference.) It was truly a labor of dedication and love.
As I was leaving on Tuesday evening I passed a visitor who thanked me for the experience.
I asked her what she thought of it.
She said: “It was electric.”