National Catholic Register


School’s Out, But Spiritual Growth Is In

Summer Conferences Come to Catholic Campuses


June 17-23, 2007 Issue | Posted 6/12/07 at 9:00 AM


Catholic college and university campuses may be relatively quiet until regular class schedules resume in the fall. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be totally silent. A number will host conferences offering non-students a chance to grow spiritually and academically.

At Aquinas College in Nashville, the Theological and Catechetical Summer Institute, tailored for Catholic educators and administrators in schools or parish religious-education programs, runs from June 18-22. It will give participants the chance to earn credits toward diocesan-catechist certification.

During several daily lectures, Aquinas theology professors and sisters in the field, including Nashville Dominican Sister Jane Dominic, Kathryn Haynes, and Mark and Kim Newcomb, will address areas like major themes in the Old Testament, prayer and spirituality in family life, prayer with young children, and the dignity of man and human happiness.

“It’s such a great privilege to teach the faith,” says Nashville Dominican Sister Mary Charles, the person to call for information at (615) 297-7545, ext. 473. “We hope to give all attending the institute solid content and show them how to bring it into their classes.”

Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla., plays host to the NAPCIS (National Association of Private Catholic and Independent Schools) Conference June 22-24.

This year’s theme is “Let Me Only Know Your Will: Dealing With a School’s Most Pressing Concerns and Curriculum Matters.” NAPCIS must have some answers because 10 of its members are listed among the top 50 Catholic schools on the Acton’s Institute’s 2006 Catholic High School Honor Roll.

The conference is aimed at administrators, teachers and board members of schools in operation, as well as individuals and groups looking for what it takes to launch and run a private Catholic school — one dedicated to both academic excellence and salvific experience.

Speakers include Ave Maria founder Thomas Monaghan and Ed Wassel, founder and administrator of Holy Rosary Academy in Anchorage, Alaska. Contact NAPCIS at (916) 451-4963 or visit on the Internet.

Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., has a stellar lineup for its July 21 Marriage and Family Conference. Coming to the campus are Father Benedict Groeschel speaking on “Marriage and Its Enemies,” former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum talking on “It Takes a Family,” Madison, Wis., Bishop Robert Morlino tackling “Defense of Marriage and the Natural Law,” and Christendom professor Mary Stanford on “Authority in Marriage.” Plus EWTN host and Christendom president Timothy O’Donnell will speak on “The Family as the Domestic Church.” For more details, check or call (800) 877-5456, ext. 30

The Whirlwind in Ohio

Franciscan University of Steubenville has not one, not two, but seven conferences — all under the umbrella theme “Come, All Who Are Thirsty.” It will also roll out 17 youth conferences: four at Steubenville, one in Nova Scotia, and 12 in eight states coast to coast.

“In many ways, coming to a summer conference is like arriving at an oasis in the middle of the desert and receiving the refreshing waters you need for your journey,” says Mark Nehrbas, the university’s executive director of Christian outreach.

This year’s Steubenville lineup features dozens of well-known speakers, scholars and Church leaders, including Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Harrisburg, Pa., and Bishop Sam Jacobs of Houma-Thibodaux, La. Also look for Father Groeschel, Scott Hahn, Jesuit Father Mitch Pacwa, Johnnette Benkovic, Jeff Cavins and Mark Miravalle.

Steubenville’s June 8-10 Catholic Charismatic Conference will emphasize helping young adults discover the power of the Holy Spirit. On hand will be Sister Briege McKenna, author Ralph Martin and Franciscan University’s chancellor, Father Michael Scanlan.

Conferences for priests, deacons, seminarians and religious sisters follow respectively on June 11-15 and July 10-12.

Next comes the July 18-22 St. John Bosco Conference for Catechists and Religious Educators. This year themed “Come, Drink of the Holy Spirit,” the conference will draw hundreds of catechists from parishes, youth groups and even prisons. There’ll be more than 30 workshops and presentations on such topics as “The Holy Spirit: Still Speaking Through the Prophets,” “The Holy Spirit and the Pedagogy of God,” and even one with the buzzworthy title “The Impact of Vatican II on Catechetics: How Did We Get Into This Mess?”

“We bring in the best to provide practical and useful help for catechesis in many disciplines,” says conference host and catechetics professor Ron Bolster. “There are many reasons to be discouraged in the catechetical field. The Bosco conference is the antidote to that discouragement.”

On July 25-27, attendees at Steubenville’s Applied Biblical Studies Conference will discuss “Feasts of Israel, Feasts of the Church” as they examine the liturgical unity between the Old and New Testaments. Scripture experts Hahn, Father Pacwa, Cavins, Ted Sri and others will lead.

On its heels is the popular apologetics conference “Defending the Faith.” Slated for July 27-29, it will explore facets of the theme “The Truth Shall Set You Free.”

Visit or call (800) 437-8368 for more on all of these.

Meanwhile Steubenville’s 17 youth conferences for teens across America are called “All Access” and will focus on God’s closeness to teens and his calls to let him into every part of their lives. Speakers include Father Stan Fortuna, Father Dave Pivonka, Sean Forrestand Melanie Welch. Check details at

Enlightening Engagements

Speaking of youth: Those who missed Benedictine College’s first Athletic Leadership Conference June 14-16 — in which professional sports figures helped prepare teenagers for leadership roles on high school athletic teams — should check next spring to see about an encore presentation. The school wants to make this an annual event.

Teens can also find spiritual stimuli at Magdalen College’s Summer Youth Program with sessions at the Warner, N.H., campus (June 17-30, July 8-21, and July 29 - Aug. 11) — and at the college’s newly acquired, and historic, Durward’s Glen property in Caledonia, Wisc. (July 29 - Aug. 11).

The college bills sessions presented by the school’s faculty as taking what young people seek — faith, fun and friendship — and integrating them into a summer camp experience of study, prayer and recreation. Daily Mass and Rosary, hiking in the White Mountains, studying the Bible and Catechism, reading Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love), along with Chesterton and Shakespeare, will help teens understand what it means to be a Catholic in today’s culture. Visit

There’s more going on than we can cover in this space, so be sure to check the Register’s calendar of events for other goings-on of interest to active and faithful Catholics. The print edition comes out the last Sunday of each month and the online version is available anytime at (Click on the “Regional Events” link.)

Happy spiritual schooling.

Staff writer Joseph Pronechen writes from Trumbull, Connecticut.