Recognizing how families, parishes and dioceses have been affected by the pandemic, the Archdiocese of Newark, in collaboration with the Dioceses of Trenton, Metuchen, Paterson and Camden, is calling ministry leaders, catechists and families to a Faith Formation Virtual Conference, Nov. 5-8. The conference is designed to empower, educate and inspire attendees to be confident educators in the faith both at home and in parishes.
Diocesan collaboration to offer virtual faith formation conference
Denise Contino, director of the diocesan Department of Catechesis, stressed, “Our people in the Diocese of Trenton can greatly benefit from this conference. We continue to learn from each other as diocesan leaders, so why not serve the entire state with this virtual conference?”
She pointed out that the conference “will offer parents a variety of sessions to assist them in their role as the primary educator of their children,” noting that homeschooling parents will benefit from the conference through creative approaches to home catechesis.
The diocesan Office of Catechesis is sponsoring two speakers for the conference – parish catechetical leaders Jessica Donohue, Sacred Heart, Mount Holly, “Finding Joy and Encouragement as a Catechist During the Pandemic,” and Mark Russoniello, St. Leo the Great, “Social Media & Social Justice: Re-engaging Catholic Teens.”
Elaborating on his talk, Russoniello said, “The Church needs to be present on social media as an advocate and agent for Christian social change that emphasizes human dignity, the common good, solidarity and care for our common home. If recent times have shown us anything, given the rapidly declining numbers of teens actively engaged with their faith, it is that the traditional catechetical messages and methods are not resonating with young people.
“The Church can be present on social media, meeting young people where they are and accompanying them there … and demonstrate that the Church is, and always has been, an agent for change in culture and society and grounded in the counter-cultural mission of Jesus Christ.”
A key component of the conference is the opportunity to make connections to enhance both professional and spiritual life. Live inter-parish and inter-diocesan collaboration sessions will afford a chance to build new diocesan contacts, both locally and across neighboring dioceses.
“One of the silver linings of the very difficult situation we are in is that many of us have opportunities to meet people we would never otherwise have met,” Donohue said, sharing that she has met more colleagues in the Diocese virtually over the past several months than in the 11 years she has worked in religious education.
“To have all of the dioceses coming together is just wonderful. It is a beautiful thing that we all share this same Catholic faith, and that there exists such a rich variety of ideas for how to hand on that faith. The conference will really be an expression of that, and I am sure we will all benefit,” Donohue said.
The virtual conference will be open with on-demand recorded presentations available from Nov. 5-8, with additional live opportunities on Nov. 6 and Nov. 7. The schedule includes: Nov.5, all on-demand video presentations are made available to registrants for 90-days; Nov.6, inter-diocesan and inter-parish collaborative roundtable opportunities; Nov. 7, multiple live sessions for connecting with presenters and collaborating in live workshops.
In addition, there will be virtual prayer room opportunities for intercessory prayer, adoration breaks, and praise and worship.
For more information, or to register, visit virtualcatholicconference.com/newark2020. Registration fee is $25 per participant.
Denise Contino may be reached at 609-403-7179 or [email protected].