by Glenda Meekins
For almost two decades, catechists, ministry leaders, and volunteers have gathered to learn more about their faith, share their experiences, and unite in fellowship at the annual Ministry Formation Conference (formerly known as Faith Formation Day). This year’s conference will be held Sept. 17 at Bishop Moore Catholic High School in Orlando with the theme, “Disciples of Mercy” in observance of the Year of Mercy.
Dennis Johnson, Jr. Secretary for Laity, Family and Life for the Diocese of Orlando said the theme was chosen in keeping with Pope Francis’ focus on “missionary discipleship” and the Jubilee of Mercy.
“The word disciple means to be a follower of Jesus,” said Johnson. “In my work it is being a catechist, one who echoes Christ.
“I think of when a bell tolls. We are to be that gong of Christ ringing out in a way that is not intrusive or imposing, but is supportive and encouraging with an ear of empathy.”
Bishop John Noonan will start the day with prayer followed by more than 100 workshops taking place during four breakout sessions. Topics include: Lectio Divina, teaching teenagers how to pray, aging with grace and best practices for working with special needs children in the classroom. Formation opportunities will touch upon the four pillars of formation: intellectual, spiritual, human and pastoral.
Keynote speaker Dr. Hosffman Ospino, Ph.D will highlight the ever changing cultural dynamics of parishes across the country as an expert on religious education and ministry, particularly in intercultural settings. The conference itself celebrates the many cultures in the Diocese of Orlando by offering workshops in English, Spanish, Creole, and Portuguese as well as addressing topics on cultural diversity within parishes.
Johnson says, “The experience of being in ministry and learning with ministers is the greatest value of the conference. You really see the face of the diocese with all of our colors, peoples, approaches and lenses. That experience of solidarity and camaraderie is a great way to start the catechetical year.”
To register or for more information on the Ministry Formation Conference, “Disciples of Mercy”, visit www.orlandodiocese.org/disciplesofmercy.