Gulf Coast Faith Formation Conference sets ‘vision’ Jan. 9-11

By Peter Finney Jr., Clarion Herald

The 38th Annual Gulf Coast Faith Formation Conference for catechists and religion teachers, hosted by the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ Office of Religious Education, will be held Jan. 9-11 at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner.

There are three keynote speakers for the conference, which has the theme “2020: His Vision, Our Call”:

Father Joshua Johnson, pastor of Holy Rosary Church in St. Amant, Louisiana, will address “Dialogue, Discipleship and Diversity: Perfecting Our Vision in Jesus Christ,” on Jan. 10 at 10:30 a.m.

“Jesus Christ invites each and every one of us to a personal relationship with him that is cultivated through our consistent time that we set aside for dialogue with God in his word,” Father Johnson says. “The fruit of our relationship with God in prayer is imitation of Christ as intentional disciples of Jesus.”

•  Julianne Stanz, director of parish life and evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay who has addressed the U.S. bishops on reaching out to the religiously unaffiliated, will discuss “Called to be Holy: Missionary Disciples Fully Alive,” on Jan. 11 at 9:45 a.m.

“As a Church, this is a time of great challenges but also immense opportunities as we proclaim the Gospel to a world less receptive of religion,” Stanz says. “It is by refocusing on our ‘first love,’ Jesus Christ, and the call to holiness that we will grow as a Church of missionary disciples.”

Marianite Sister Judith Gomila, a veteran teacher, catechist and missionary, will speak on “2020: Let’s Go,” Jan. 11 at 3 p.m. “The GO Conference is a call to action,” Sister Judy says.

“It challenges us to take all the words we’ve heard, the prayers, the music, the people who’ve touched us and allow that to become flesh in us as intentional disciples. There is an African proverb that says, ‘It is the heart that gives; the fingers just let go.’ In 2020, see with new eyes, challenge your heart muscle, expand your outreach, dare to be a contemplative in action.”

The conference, originally named in honor of Jesuit Father Johannes Hofinger, provides training sessions and workshops for those involved in catechesis and evangelization in the Catholic Church. The conference is hosted by the archdiocese in collaboration with dioceses in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The conference opens on Jan. 9 with Leadership Thursday. Mass at 9 a.m. will be followed by sessions on transparency, trust and transformation; creating a culture of safety; helping families heal; discerning the “question behind the question” with youth (a keynote by Catholic counselor Roy Petitfils); being a better evangelizer; interjecting the presence of African-American Catholic spirituality; quenching others’ thirst with the Gospel message; and being a more resilient leader (a keynote by Dr. Melanie B. Palmisano, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Baton Rouge).

Also, on Jan. 9, the McGrath Institute for Church Life of the University of Notre Dame will offer seminars on “Creation and Evolution: Seeing the Harmony of Faith and Science.” Dr. Chris Baglow will give a keynote at 2:30 p.m. on “The Widest Wisdom: Understanding the Christian Doctrine of Creation.”

Attendees may register for one, two or three days of the conference, with discounted rates before Dec. 31. To register, go to

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