Happy Monday everyone. My apologies for my not being as faithful as usual with blog entries. I left for Orlando on Thursday morning and arrived back in Chicago yesterday afternoon. The Orlando Liturgical Conference, which is held every two years, was a great event, as usual. The diocese took a very different approach with this conference. They decided to focus the event on the Advent-Christmas cycle. The conference began with an Advent Gathering Rite, during which the first candle of the Advent wreath was lighted. Fr. Michael Joncas presided and the diocese used WLP's Advent Entrance Rite for the music. It seemed strange to be "celebrating" Advent and Christmas in Orlando in August, but the whole event really worked. The environment in the main ballroom shifted as we moved through the cycle. By the end of the event, there were lighted Christmas trees, poinsettias, a huge creche scene, and a lovely banner depicting the city of Bethlehem. The major talks focused on the cycle and it all seems to have worked so well.
I gave three talks (Music and the RCIA, The Rites of the RCIA, and Apprenticeship and the RCIA). I also presented a WLP showcase and played the piano for the closing event. I really have a blast at these conferences. I enjoy sharing some wisdom, stories, and experiences with people who are entrusted with the formation of catechumens and candidates. These kinds of events keep my feet on the ground. As you may know, my first real parish experience (after 8 years in the seminary and not having been ordained) was in the Diocese of Orlando, at St. Mary Magdalen Parish. Here's a photo of the interior:
I refer to this first ministerial experience as my "real schooling." It was wonderful to reconnect with people from the parish and from the diocese.
I want to respond to one of the comments posted by someone in response to my blog about the death of Senator Kennedy. Know that I am a supporter of the consistent ethic of life. Senator Kennedy was a supporter of a woman's right to choose an abortion. But what he did accomplish was working for a society into which people would want their children to be born. He greatly improved the social care that was extended to the poor and marginalized in his own state of Massachusetts and beyond the boundaries of that state. For this, I believe he should be honored.
I am grateful for my experience in Orlando the past few days. My years spent in the diocese provided me with such great formation. And for this, I gotta sing and I gotta pray.
I hope you have a blessed week.