This is the conference that the Holy Spirit put on my heart last June. In August, the major pieces started falling into place. Originally I had thought it would be something done at the parish level. But as I prayed before the Blessed Sacrament, I realized it was much bigger than what I thought--it was meant to have the full support of the Bishop. In September, I spoke with Bishop D'Arcy for the first time at the Bioethics Conference and things started rolling. Then in November, we learned that we would be getting a new Bishop, and in my Nov 14th post, I asked that you all "please pray for our new Bishop, whoever he may be. That the Holy Spirit would inspire the selection and that he too would have a heart for fertility/infertility and be willing to work with me/us to make the conference and future plans a reality." God is faithful. Our new Bishop, Bishop Kevin Rhoades, is the Chair-elect of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth and as it turns out, seems to be knowledgable and supportive of NaPro Technology. The Diocesean Office of Family Life has been wonderful to work with and although they originally said that we wouldn't be able to do the conference this year due to budget concerns and the change of Bishops, I received an email on December 5 saying:
"...since we last spoke, Fred and I have decided that, despite having a new bishop and no money in the budget, we are going to plow ahead and host a diocesan marriage and family conference this Spring! It will take place at the Center for Continuing Education at Notre Dame on Saturday, March 20, and we booked Janet Smith for one of the main talks as well as the talk at the dinner banquet. In your honor, we have given Janet's main talk the title of "Life-Giving Love" which will present the Church's vision in this whole area and why NFP and NaPro is consistent with this vision and why contraception and IVF contradict it. Of course, we hope to have Bishop Rhoades give the other main talk, since he is not only our new ordinary but the chairman-elect of the USCCB Committee on Marriage and Family!"
Included in the email was the full schedule and list of workshop sessions including one workshop in each session geared for couples experiencing infertility. Dave and I were asked to conduct a morning workshop on dealing with infertility as a Catholic couple, including letting people know about concrete resources such as NaProTecnology and Hannah's Tears. There would also be an afternoon workshop on infertility featuring a basic introduction to NaProTechnology.
So in the end, things have turned out exactly as the Holy Spirit instructed me that they would. And things have far surpassed my imagination. It's amazing to see His provision through all of this. I am so excited and am very much looking forward to sharing the power, beauty and truth of Catholic teaching with those in attendance.
Please pray for us as we prepare and lead up to March 20th, that we all presenters would be able to present the teachings in such a way that, as Pope Benedict recently urged the Bishops, "they are recognized for the message of hope that they are". It is a true honor to be able to participate in this and we are looking forward to presenting with many others, among them Bishop Rhoades and Dr. Janet Smith. :)
Below is the Conference Description. I do hope you can make it!
Diocesean Marriage & Family Conference
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Click here to register!
It's easy to lose sight of the "big picture" in the day-to-day business of raising a family and making a marriage work. This inaugural diocesan conference aims to deepen the understanding of marriage and family life as a vocation from God and encourage an appreciation of its many dimensions. Through a combination of plenary sessions and workshops, this conference will explore the Church's rich vision of marriage and family life as it relates to topics such as the theology of the body, communication and intimacy, financial stewardship, responsible parenthood, dealing with infertility, and raising teens. A series of workshops also will be presented in Spanish. This conference is for adults of all ages and circumstances; married couples, couples preparing for marriage, single parents, college students, clergy, pastoral ministers and anyone else interested in enriching their understanding of the vocation of marriage and family life.
9:00 AM Registration and Continental Breakfast
10:00 AM Welcome Fred & Lisa Everett
Plenary Session One: The Vocation of Marriage Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades
10:50 AM Break
11:15 AM Workshop Session One
* Introduction to the Theology of the Body Lisa Marino
* Dealing with Infertility in Marriage Dave & Suzy Younger
* Marriage & Finances: Setting a Solid Foundation Harry Verhiley
* Parenting Teenagers in the Virtues Cindy Black
* La Vocación al Matrimonio
12:05 PM Lunch
12:55 PM Plenary Session Two: Life-Giving Love Prof. Janet E. Smith
2:00 PM Break
2:25 PM Workshop Session Two
* Building a Culture of Life through the Theology of the Body Tom & Mary Akre
* NaProTechnology: New Hope for Couples with Infertility Brad Ferrari, MD & Mary Ramsey, PA
* Communication & Intimacy in Marriage Lisa Everett
* Challenges in the First Years of Marriage John & Monica Sikorski
* La Teología del Cuerpo Margarita Rodriguez
3:15 PM Break
3:40 PM Workshop Session Three
* Theology of the Body: What the Pope Couldn't Say Fr. Bob Lengerich
* Spiritual Parenthood Bill & Elizabeth Kirk
* Communication & Intimacy in Marriage Lisa Everett
* Pearls of Wisdom: What 46 Years of Marriage Have Taught Us Dan & Annette Stobierski
* Comunicación en el Matrimonio Fred Everett
4:30 PM Day Conference Concludes
5:00 PM Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart Bishop John M. D Arcy
6:15 PM Social with cash bar opens
7:00 PM Banquet & Talk by Prof. Smith: Seeking Holiness in Marriage & Family Life
You may register online or by mail or FAX. The registration fee of $35 per person for the day conference includes conference materials, continental breakfast, a boxed lunch and afternoon snacks. The evening banquet is an additional $25 per person. Please indicate your workshop preferences in order to assist in guaranteeing proper room space. College or graduate students are welcome to attend any of the plenary or workshop sessions at no cost.
Meal Preference & Dietary Restrictions
For the banquet, you have a choice of oven roasted garlic herb pork loin or Greek cheese and spinach stuffed chicken breast which should be indicated at registration. Also, please indicate if you have special dietary restrictions.
Registration and credit card information will be transmitted through secure and encrypted channels. For more information, you may call the center at (574) 631-6691.
About the Main Speakers
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades was appointed the Ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend on November 14, 2009, by Pope Benedict XVI, and installed on January 13, 2010, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne. Bishop Rhoades serves as Chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Task Force on Health Care, and is the Chair-elect of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. He is a member of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Catechism, the Board of Trustees of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the Board of Trustees of Mount Saint Mary s University, and the Episcopal Advisory Board of the Theology of the Body Institute.
Prof. Janet E. Smith holds the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. She is the author of Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later and editor of Why Humanae Vitae Was Right: A Reader. She has two new books; Life Issues, Medical Choices, Questions and Answers for Catholics and The Right to Privacy. She speaks internationally on the Catholic teachings on sexuality and bioethics. She is serving a second term as a consultor to the Pontifical Council on the Family. Over a million copies of her talk, Contraception: Why Not have been distributed on tape or CD.