Friday, August 26, 2022
“No, I will not attend the Diocesan Pastoral Congress. This is just for catechists and people who teach in the religious education program of the parish, isn’t it? »
“Not quite right,” I replied, “Let me explain.”
My friend’s question illustrates a common misunderstanding. The Diocesan Pastoral Congress offers all adults an invitation to come together for times of prayer, learning, sharing and spiritual enrichment. Our Congress welcomes adults to learn more about our beautiful faith. The theme for 2022, “Eucharist: Life, Joy and Thanksgiving,” fits perfectly with the goal of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan to expand offerings for adult faith formation. Our concentration on the Eucharist will bring to each of us a deeper awareness of “the source and the summit of the Christian life”.
Why should adults who are not catechists attend Congress? Referring to the celebration of the Eucharist, Sacrosanctum Conciliumthe Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy underlines our need for formation in the faith of adults: “The Church therefore ardently desires that the faithful of Christ, when witnessing this mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators.” (SC,48).
A quick review of our history in the Diocese of Salt Lake City reveals a Church consistently responding to the needs of God’s people in Utah. In the 1960s, Bishop Joseph L. Federal, sixth bishop of Salt Lake City, attended the opening and all sessions of the Second Vatican Council in Rome. From his experience, Bishop Federal concluded that it was necessary to bring Utah’s catechists and religious educators together for an annual meeting. He brought them together by offering prayers, educational sessions and opportunities for spiritual guidance. Bishop Federal became the founder of the first religious education congress in the Diocese of Salt Lake City. Offerings and attendance at the annual meeting increased significantly under Bishop Federal’s successors, Bishop William K. Weigand and Bishop George H. Niederauer. The growing Hispanic community has facilitated the expansion of speakers and offerings to be presented in Spanish.
By the 2000s, with the opening of Juan Diego Catholic High School and the availability of a new auditorium and classrooms, adults attending the annual convention grew to a crowd of over 600. of the Right Reverend John C. Wester, ninth Bishop of Salt Lake City, in 2007, the Congress emphasized adult religious education offerings with specialized presentations for attendees interested in the enrichment of marriage, the scriptures , Catholic social teaching, traditions of prayer, stewardship, vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, lay church ministry, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), and liturgical ministries.
In 2018, our current bishop, Bishop Oscar A. Solis, unveiled a new diocesan pastoral plan during Congress, a plan that was initiated by Bishop Wester before he left for New Mexico. One of the priorities of the Pastoral Plan includes the expansion of adult faith formation and what was once a religious education convention has become an event open to all interested laity and clergy.
In March 2020, the Covid pandemic necessitated many changes. All masses and public gatherings, including the Diocesan Pastoral Congress, have been cancelled. Many people in our communities have experienced dramatic changes in their religious routines as a result of the Covid pandemic. As in the past, the Catholic Church in Utah has made effective accommodations during difficult times. Our churches are now open and we are exploring new methods of adult faith formation.
The Diocesan Pastoral Congress was offered remotely in 2021. This year, all the faithful are invited to gather on September 17 in their parishes or missions to share live presentations and discussions on the theme “Eucharist: life, joy and thanksgiving”.
Filled with hope, we continue to build on the programs envisioned by our bishops.
The U.S. Catholic Bishops have announced a national Eucharistic revival over the next three years, and this time of study and prayer will bring refreshment and renewal. As Chief Catechist and Shepherd of our Diocese, Bishop Solis invites all adults to reflect on the Eucharist at the upcoming Congress in 2022. Hopefully, we will experience a historic and prophetic message from Vatican II. “From the liturgy therefore, and above all from the Eucharist, grace flows over us as from a fountain…” (CS, 10)
Susan Northway is director of the Salt Lake City Diocese Faith Formation Office. Contact her at [email protected]
WHAT: Pastoral Congress 2022
WHEN: Saturday 17 Sept.
WHERE: Individual parishes
Keynote speeches will be streamed live and attendees will be able to ask questions of the presenters. Contact your parish for details on time and location.