Summary of today’s show: The Year of Faith is coming up quick and a group of lay volunteers, led by Chuck Alfano, in the Diocese of Springfield have organized a conference to help prepare. Scot Landry talks with Chuck and emcee Matt Weber about the genesis of the conference and the star-studded lineup of speakers, including Fr. Mitch Pacwa, Jeff Cavins, and Patrick Madrid.
Listen to the show:
Today’s host(s): Scot Landry
Today’s guest(s): Chuck Alfano and Matt Weber
Links from today’s show:
- Preparing for the Year of Faith & The New Evangelization Conference
- Annus Fidei (Vatican Year of Faith website)
- Year of Faith Boston
- “A Word with Weber”, CatholicTV
- Fearing the Stigmata: Humorously Holy Stories of a Young Catholic’s Search for a Culturally Relevant Faith by Matt Weber
Today’s topics: Year of Faith Conference in Springfield
1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed listeners to the show. He mentioned that today is World Suicide Prevention Day, but in Massachusetts we’re facing a ballot initiative on November 6 that would legalize physician-assisted suicide. He asked people to pray for a defeat of Question 2.
Scot said he’s a big supporter of big Catholic conferences and in Springfield, Mass., which is about an hour and a half from Boston, they will have a big conference for Preparing for the Year of Faith and The New Evangelization. Chuck Alfano is the event coordinator. Scot asked him how the idea for the conference came about.
Chuck said he had the idea for the conference overnight but it’s taken nine months of planning. He’s studying for a Master’s degree in theology and ministry and complained to a professor of a lack of Bible study programs and the professor told him to stop whining and get working. Once he had the idea for the conference, he started calling around to venues and calling potential speakers.
Scot said it’s an A-list of Catholic speakers, including Fr. Mitch Pacwa, Patrick Madrid, Jeff Cavins, Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Sr. Jane Morrissey, and Matt Weber. The conference is on September 22. Matt Weber said he will be emceeing the evening, as well as talking about his new book “Fearing the Stigmata”.
Scot said looking at the list of speakers, it appears everything went right for him which would be a sign of the Holy Spirit’s favor. Why are they coming to Springfield? Chuck said many of them don’t get to New England very often and saw this as an opportunity to come up this way.
The Year of Faith begins October 11. Why did Chuck want to pick a date before the start of the event. Chuck said he went through every diocesan calendar to make sure there were no conflicts, but he also wanted to give people time to prepare for the Year of Faith. There will be events throughout the Year so this is an opportunity to get a jumpstart. This conference was created by lay volunteers.
Scot asked Chuck why he picked Symphony Hall. He said it’s centrally located in downtown Springfield with comfortable seating. Speaking of singing, Vinny Flynn from MercySong will sing the Divine Mercy chaplet a cappella in the morning.
Scot asked Matt what he hopes young adults will get from the Year of Faith. Matt said he grew up in Springfield and feels a connection to Western Massachusetts. He’s excited to welcome people to Springfield and showcase the charism, graces, and joys of the diocese. It’s an opportunity come together as a community of Catholics throughout Massachusetts. Who doesn’t want to celebrate a year of something so important to us. Matt said he’s been living in Cambridge for the last five or six years as he’s been in school and working there.
Scot and Matt talked about how long it takes to get from Cambridge to Springfield, noting that it already takes a half hour just to get in the city of Boston so an hour and a half is nothing. He noted that Springfield has a lot to recommend it, including the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Chuck said he wanted this to be a regional conference, not just a diocesan conference, because as he said these speakers don’t get out this way very often. They’ve sent packets to 1,100 parishes throughout New England and are sending people out this weekend to many parishes throughout the region to sell tickets.
2nd segment: Scot said the first speaker is Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ, the host of EWTN Live. Chuck said Fr. Mitch was supposed to attend a men’s conference in Springfield in April but had to cancel at the last minute so he was very open to coming again.They talked about Fr. Pacwa’s background. He’s a founder of Ignatius Productions and holds a doctorate. He will be available for a book signing and will be celebrating the Mass.
Chuck said the next speaker is Patrick Madrid, who is a great apologist and is great at explaining the Church’s teachings. Matt said one of Madrid’s books is a Catholic Challenge to Modern Atheism.
Jeff Cavins, the third speaker, is president of Ascension Press and is an author of the Great Adventure: A Journey through the Bible. It takes the reader through the Bible in a chronological manner. Chuck said one of the reasons for the conference is to raise money for those Bible study programs he complained about to his professor.
Matt said Jeff was the producer of Life On the Rock on EWTN, a show for young adults, and he was once the understudy for Mother Angelica.
Marcellino D’Ambrosio is a native of Rhode Island and lives in Fort Worth, Texas, now. chuck said he did his doctoral dissertation under Avery Cardinal Dulles. Chuck said D’Ambrosio is founder of the Crossroads Initiative, which provides new resources for adult faith formation.
Matt said he’s created a series of segments for CatholicTV on the Year of Faith that will begin airing soon. He said whatever our skills, we need to chip in and get the word out.
3rd segment: Chuck said Sr. Jane Morrissey is a local Springfield Sister of St. Joseph who has worked in education and started a program called the HomeWork House for kids who need help with homework and don’t have the resources at home. She’s also worked in programs that benefit poor Latino families. Matt said his aunt is also a Sister of St. Joseph. He said Homework House is where his mother volunteered for many years and brought back many inspiring stories.
Her topic is “Joy and Hope: the Gospel for the Modern World”. Sr. Jane just lost her sister to cancer a few weeks ago and they worked together on the talk together. Gaudium et Spes, one of the four major documents of Vatican II, will be a primary part of her talk.
Scot asked Matt Weber about his story. About three years ago he started producing short “Andrew Rooney style” messages about a man in his 20s living out his Catholic faith. It’s not easy to live your life as a young person today and so he’s going to talk to about how to live out the same story he has. The health of the Church in the next generation of Catholics is still strong.
Scot said one of the main reasons Pope Benedict called for a Year of Faith is because there is a crisis of faith. It’s not that there are more atheists or agnostics than before, but that we’re diluting the way we live our faith that way we’re called. This isn’t unique to Catholicism.
Scot said for young people, it’s cool to be spiritual, but not a member of a religious organization. Matt said looking at the media, you can see a lot of negative coverage of the Church. He was on WBZ’s Nightside with Dan Rea and asked why the good things aren’t covered by the media. Dan said it’s because the media covers plane crashes, not planes landing well. So it’s a steady diet of bad news about the Church and nobody at 17 wants to be a part of something not cool. It’s cool to say that maybe there’s a God, but not to commit to anything. Matt said he wants to tell them that it is cool to go to Mass and connect with Jesus Christ in the sacraments.
chuck said the Year of Faith is for us to renew our faith, especially those of us going to Mass now, but we also need to know how to talk about our faith to those who have left.
Matt talked about having gone to Catholic school for 20 years and then going to Harvard and getting challenged by classmates for being religious. Being challenged made him re-examine his faith and learn how to defend his faith. It was like going through a new confirmation preparation.
Then Chuck talked about getting of high school and going into the military and how he stopped going to church. Twenty years later his sister told him their father’s dying wish was for them to return to the Church. They found a priest on a Sunday morning to hear their confession and they went to Mass. Two hours later, their faith died in Chuck’s arms.
Chuck said there were group tickets available as well as individual tickets. Matt volunteered that during lunch he will pay the Mass Pike tolls for the first 10 people who ask him. Chuck said during the afternoon there will be an open panel for the spacers. Scot said he would give $50 to anyone who can a question about the Catholic faith that will stump the panel.