The CatholicMatch Institute spoke to Therese Brown, Executive Director of the Association of Catholic Publishing, about the Mid-Atlantic Congress, which is in Baltimore, Maryland, on February 27-March 1, 2014. Brown talked with us about the speakers, the mission of the congress, and what makes the Mid-Atlantic Congress unique.
What is the Mid-Atlantic Congress?
The 3rd Annual Mid-Atlantic Congress–Forming Catholic Leaders for Faith-filled Service is a unique and dynamic conference created just for today’s Catholic pastoral and administrative leaders. The congress is co-sponsored by the Association of Catholic Publishers (ACP) and the Archdiocese of Baltimore, in partnership with the National Leadership Roundtable for Church Management. The Mid-Atlantic Congress (MAC) is organized around three essential themes—one for each of the three days.
- Thursday—Journey with Christ in Faith: creating and sustaining a passion for our faith that nurtures everyday evangelization.
- Friday—Journey with Christ in Worship: engaging in life-giving evangelization that leads us to the sacraments, especially Eucharist.
- Saturday—Journey with Christ in Witness: Demonstrating how faith motivates us to be a witness in society and the world today, and how that witness is sustained through the Eucharist.
Who are the speakers planned for this year and what message will they be sharing?
- Thursday: Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, President of Renew International,and Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Archdiocese of Louisville, with Hosffman Opsino professor of religious education at Boston College, and musician ValLimar Jansen.
- Friday: Fr. Rick Hilgartner, Executive Director, USCCB Secretariat for Divine Worship, with Sr. Rosa Monique Pena, and Dr. Karen Ristau.
- Saturday: Rev. Robert Barron, evangelist and founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.
Many of our speakers will start with the topic of evangelization and then focus more closely on their particular ministry area. A full list of our breakout speakers can be found here.
What are some of the highlights from the congress that you are most excited about?
One of the highlights of the congress is the use of stoops (sets of small stairs that you see all over Baltimore, usually made of marble) where participants are invited to share their faith stories. The stoops themselves are an innovation this year. The stoops are traditionally places where community is formed and in this instance, faith community.
We are doing this as an initiative to invite and support “emerging leaders” in ministry. This year we will highlight them at different moments and next year we are going to take another step in terms of developing programming that meets their specific needs. This is a concerted effort to develop leaders for the present and future. We are also trying to build on the address of our final keynote speaker—Fr. Robert Barron—who will being speaking about evangelization.
We are encouraging people to capture images of beauty and continue to reflect on his presentation during the following six weeks of Lent Reflections. His presentation can be found at the Association of Catholic Publishers website.
CatholicMatch is a vendor of the Mid-Atlantic Congress. How do vendors contribute to the experience of the weekend?
One of the obvious contributions is financial. Without our vendors, we would be hard pressed to provide the quality programming that we do. We also have a slightly different arrangement with our exhibitors, especially the publishers. They underwrite the cost of the speakers, which allows us to bring some of the best of the best to the MAC.
We have also worked hard to try to diversify the vendors that are in the room. Because we are trying to attract leaders from a variety of fields at the parish, school, and diocese, we invite vendors—outside the traditional publishers and Church goods—who have tools and resources that can support and make more effective the workings of a parish, school, or diocese.
What would you say to Baltimore area Catholics that are thinking of attending or volunteering, but need some encouragement?
They have a great opportunity for a national experience and to come together and grow in their ministry. They can come to MAC, where they will be challenged, inspired and supported. Many people are coming in diocesan groups, which provides a ready-made network to help sustain the experience before and after the MAC.
This congress unlike others focuses on leadership. Generally, congresses are specific to a certain ministry area, so the opportunity to share with leaders across ministries is rare. Because MAC focuses on leadership, there is such a wonderful opportunity to cross-pollinate ideas, strategies, and best practices.
What do you hope for Catholics to get out of the experience?
Catholics will find the congress an opportunity to renew themselves, feel rejuvenated, and be refreshed and ready for the next challenges that are in front of them. We hope that they walk away with new knowledge and skills to nurture discipleship among the people of God.
How can Baltimore-area Catholics register or sign up to volunteer? Baltimore-area Catholics are welcome to visit us at the Armistead room in the Baltimore Hilton Hotel.
For more information vist www.midatlanticcongress.com