Larry Deeney said the energy he received from watching 5,000 fellow Catholics come together to pray, learn and celebrate their faith made him proud to be Catholic.
“We’ve been going through a very difficult time the past few weeks within our archdiocese, and this is something we need to get back to: the Good News of why we are Catholic,” said Deeney, a member of Holy Name of Jesus in Wayzata. “It’s all about Jesus — having Jesus be the center of what we are in our life and keeping that in mind.”
His sentiments were echoed by others attending the 2013 Rediscover: Catholic Celebration Oct. 12 at the RiverCentre in St. Paul. The daylong event — featuring Mass with Archbishop John Nienstedt, music, a slate of internationally recognized speakers and more than 80 exhibitors and vendors — was part of the archdiocese’s Rediscover: initiative.
“I love the whole idea of this many Catholics being together,” said Catherine Wolff of St. Mary of the Lake in White Bear Lake.
“People are going to leave this place, hopefully, with a deeper conviction in their faith,” said Colin Jones, a seminarian at St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul from St. Charles Borromeo parish in St. Anthony.
The theme for the day, which included tracks for Spanish speakers and youth, was “So the world may believe” (John 17:20).
‘On fire for the faith’
“It is humbling and beautiful to see such large numbers here today,” Archbishop Nienstedt said during his homily at the opening Mass.
“We come together today because we are a people of faith, of hope, and of love,” he said.
He alluded to recent sexual misconduct allegations in the media concerning certain priests and how their cases were handled by archdiocesan officials.
“The events of the past few weeks have been very difficult for you and for me,” he said. “And, yet, as we come together today — 5,000 strong — we know there is light and life in our faith. We know there is truth, and in the pursuit of that truth, we are set free. I believe with all my heart that we will come through this storm better and stronger and more focused than ever so that the Gospel message may be proclaimed anew.”
Proclaiming that message is something all Catholics are called to do, he said. The hurdles can be great: Some people are no longer engaged in the faith because they reject some or all of the Church’s teachings, he said, or they are disappointed with Church leaders, or they are busy with other things in life and don’t see the value of faith or the Church.
“This provides us new challenges, my dear friends — an even more pressing opportunity for us to become evangelizers of the faith, missionaries telling the story of Jesus right within our families, our workplaces, our church circles, our neighborhoods,” Archbishop Nienstedt said.
“This is the work of the new evangelization,” he said. “This is what today is all about. This is what the Year of Faith hopes to achieve. This is what lies at the heart of our Rediscover: initiative — to be on fire for the faith.”
Matthew Kelly, author of the book “Rediscover Catholicism” and founder of The Dynamic Catholic Institute, told attendees during the morning plenary session that “God is in the business of transformation.”
“This is a moment when we need game-changers in the Church,” he said. “We can be most effective when we focus on our main point of influence: ourselves. The question you have to ask is, ‘How is God calling you to transform your life right now?’”
Kelly challenged Catholics to read the Gospels “over and over for a whole year” and “allow the light of Jesus Christ to sink deep into your life.”
He said that after listening to the Gospel at Mass, he often reflects, “If I just live this one Gospel reading 100 percent — not the whole Gospel, not the whole Bible, not all of Church teaching, not the whole catechism — how much would my life change? The answer every single Sunday is: radically.”
“That teaches me there is a gap between my life and the Gospel, and it’s a big gap,” he said.
We must “get to know the shepherd” in order to transform our lives and the lives of others, he said.
Tips for the New Evangelization
During the day’s second plenary session, Father Robert Barron offered recommendations for the New Evangelization.
The founder of the Word on Fire global ministry and creator of the documentary “Catholicism” told Catholic Celebration attendees that one way people will be drawn to the Church is if we “lead with the beautiful” and then move to the good and true.
“When you lead with the beautiful, it’s a much more winsome approach, and it awakens far fewer defenses,” he said, citing how people can be drawn to goodness and truth by first experiencing the beauty of things like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Mozart’s “Requiem” or Mother Teresa’s sisters working with the poor.
Among his other recommendations were:
• “Don’t dumb down the message.” Today’s new atheists “have been great ‘evangelists’ — smart, articulate, in your face, loud, clear,” he said. “Can we match them with our own intelligent evangelism? That’s a challenge, because a dumbed-down Catholicism won’t be able to meet the challenge.”
• “Preach with ardor.” The Church’s job is to bear the light of Christ to the world, he said. The Second Vatican Council was a missionary council but, he warned, “A Church that is largely bickering with itself is not a missionary Church. It’s not a Church that is going to be convincing to the wider culture.”
• Tell the great story of salvation history and its climax: Jesus Christ crucified and risen. “Teach the Bible,” he said.
• Emphasize St. Augustine’s understanding of the human person. Augustine said: “Lord, you have made us for yourself; therefore, our heart is restless until it rests in thee.” We cannot find happiness in substitutes for God, Father Barron said, including the false gods of wealth, pleasure, power and honor.
• Stress Irenaeus’s doctrine of God. This second-century theologian stressed that “God doesn’t need the world, and that is such good news,” Father Barron said. The world adds nothing to God’s greatness, but “God has loved the world perfectly into being.” He created us because he loves us, not because he needs something from us.
Consecration and more
Time was set aside throughout the day for eucharistic adoration and the sacrament of confession.
Before Father Barron’s talk, Archbishop Nienstedt consecrated the archdiocese to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Bishop-elect Andrew Cozzens spoke beforehand about both hearts and the meaning of consecration, and he revealed that his episcopal motto will be: “Lend us your heart,” a phrase from a prayer to Mary that Mother Teresa and her sisters prayed every day.
Before Kelly’s talk, Eliot Morris (see Eliot sing Hosea at the event), a musician living in Memphis, Tenn., performed his song “Rediscover,” which was inspired by the Rediscover: initiative. Michelle Denise Michaels, a Minneapolis singer and graduate of the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute, sang “How Great Thou Art” before the start of Father Barron’s talk.
Cesar Cruz, music director at Holy Rosary parish in Minneapolis and St. Alphonsus parish in Brooklyn Center, played his song “Redescubre” — inspired by the Spanish-language counterpart to the archdiocesan Rediscover: initiative — during one of the Spanish break-out sessions.
Other speakers during the day included George Weigel, distinguished senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., who talked about the need for the Church to have a missionary spirit in today’s culture.
Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, gave presentations in both English and Spanish, while Martha Fernández-Sardina, director of Prepare The Way Enterprises, presented at the morning Spanish-language break-out session.
Jason Evert, an author and chastity speaker, addressed youth in grades 7-10, with Sonar providing music, while children in grades K-6 learned about prayer, sacraments, the saints and virtues.
The day was emceed by Jeff Cavins, director of the catechetical institute and founder of the Great Adventure Bible Study series.
The 2014 Rediscover: Catholic Celebration will be a two-day event, Oct. 3 and 4, at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Tweets from the day
A Twitter feed for the 2013 Rediscover: Catholic Celebration captured some of the experiences of the attendees. The following is a sample of the day’s tweets.
• “Key word today at #cathcelebrate — TRANSFORMATION. @RediscoverFaith”
• “@FrRobertBarron just told a story about how a woman googling “Charlie Sheen” led her to become Catholic. God is amazing. #cathcelebrate”
• “@RediscoverFaith Jesus and Mary, Our local Church is yours. Ave Maria. #CathCelebrate”
• “Don’t be afraid to be saints of the new millennia. #cathcelebrate #jpII”
• “Come to me all you who like each other.”BishopFlores #ThingsJesusNeverSaid @RediscoverFaith #cathcelebrate”
• “‘The world doesn’t need another person living a shallow life’ #bebold #cathcelebrate”
• “‘Who do people say I am? But who do YOU say I am?’ The Jesus question that everyone answers, even by not answering. #cathcelebrate”
“Once you really get into the Gospels and discover and rediscover the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, I think the one thing you will see is that Jesus was a radical — his life was radical, his example was radical, his love was radical, his teachings were radical,” Kelly said, citing as an example Jesus’ teaching to love and pray for one’s enemies. “They were radical 2,000 years ago but, guess what, they’re radical 2,000 years later.”
FATHER ROBERT BARRON
“[Msgr.] Kevin Irwin, who was the head of theology at [The Catholic University of America] for many years, said: We all have the book Gather, our hymn book. But he said there should be a second hymn book called Scatter,” Father Barron said. “Sure, we gather around . . . the Church and the liturgy, and we celebrate, and we realize who we are. But then, the most sacred words of the Mass, after the words of consecration, are ‘Ite, missa est’: ‘Go, the Mass has ended’ — now flood the world. That’s Vatican II — not a Church bickering with itself, but a Church full of missionary zeal.”
“The Church has to find a way to be a missionary Church again,” Weigel said.
BISHOP DANIEL FLORES
“Christians must not just speak about love — but exemplify it,” Bishop Flores said. “We are called to have a special place in our hearts for people on the periphery: those in prisons, nursing homes, hospitals, detention centers — people who feel they don’t belong.”
Evert spoke to high school youth about living “Romance without regret.” He encouraged them to pursue lives of chastity through virtue, forgiveness and sacrifice, despite the social pressures. He told the teens to set the standard high, stop gossiping, remove all labels and give one another the freedom to start over. Evert prompted them to do four things to attain purity: go to confession, never leave the Mass, maintain a devotion to Mary and pray the rosary.
Several people commented on Facebook about the Catholic Celebration. Here is a sample:
- “The Consecration to the Hearts of Jesus & Mary on the same weekend that Pope Francis is going to Consecrate the World to the Immaculate Heart of Mary……the Whole ‘Catholic Party’ was AWESOME and Holy Spirit filled!”— Mary Hobbs
- “The Shepherd was leading us and the Spirit was filling us and we connected. This is truly MY church home and we were all proud to announce that. We were called, we were taught, we were fed, and we were sent out to bring others to the Lord. We had truly gone to the mountaintop.”— Vj Lokken
- “Thank you for a wonderful, faith-filled, inspirational day! See you next year. We’re inviting everyone we know!”— Amy Nicolai Augustine
Thanks to sponsors
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis thanks the sponsors and supporters who made the 2013 Rediscover: Catholic Celebration possible:
- Presenting sponsor: Our Sunday Visitor.
- Major sponsors: Catholic Community Foundation, Dynamic Catholic, Minnesota Coaches, Premier Banks, Relevant Radio, Steier Group, The St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity.
- Sponsors: Bill Bannon & Associates; Catholic Finance Corporation; Catholic Mutual Group; Catholic United Financial; EWTN, Global Catholic Network; Lighthouse Catholic Media, NFP; Meier, Kennedy & Quinn; Minnesota Knights of Columbus; Ruffalo Cody & Associates; St. Catherine University.
- Supporters and Benefactors: Sunrise Banks, Ascension Press, Principal Services LLC, Japs-Olson Company, Gertens, Magnificat, Schulzy.com, The Word Among Us, Alexandra Roisen, Nadia Smith.