New York Catholic Bible Summit Brings Participants Hope in Abundance

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New York Catholic Bible Summit 2021 offered hope and healing to participants at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, and others participating virtually June 26.

The summit, themed “We Are People of Hope,” was sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Adult Faith Formation.

Sherry Anne Weddell, co-founder and executive director of Catherine of Siena Institute in Colorado Springs, Colo., delivered the keynote presentation titled “People of Hope and Conversion: The Journey to Discipleship” where she discussed the three stages of adult Christian development: seeker, disciple and apostle.

“The flourishing of the Church depends on the percentage of our people who have become full grown spiritual adults,” she said.

Ms. Weddell added only one percent of baptized Catholics reach spiritual adulthood, and 43 percent of millennials said in a recent American Worldview Inventory study they don't believe in God or that God exists, or care whether God exists.

Families, parishes and dioceses thrive when they provide the support for people to grow into spiritual adulthood, she said.

“In a parish that really understands this, a parish community is really focused on providing the support that real human beings need to grow spiritually from infancy all the way into fruitful adulthood,” she said. 

“In those communities, people can make this journey from seeker to disciple into early apostle in one to two years.”

Ms. Weddell concluded by sharing the importance of this journey.

“Personal conversion and discipleship is our future, especially since we live in a world that has changed so dramatically in the last 60 years, and the larger culture no longer supports this journey and many of our families no longer support this journey,” she said. 

“We are intentional about this if we constantly use Jesus’ name, if we tell His story, if we tell our stories of encountering Him and if we call people to encounter Him and to respond to Him.” 

Ms. Weddell was the first of five speakers, the final speaker being Father Giuseppe Maria Siniscalchi, C.F.R., and superior at St. Mary of the Assumption Friary in Newburgh, who discussed “Spreading Hope, Receiving the Healing of the Lord.”

“If I want to spread hope, I first have to possess hope, and if you want to spread hope, you need to possess hope,” he said. “Receiving the healing of God—is there something you and I can do to receive the healing of God? 

“So my friends in this talk, I will pray that the Holy Spirit inspires all of us so our hearts will be open more deeply to the theological virtue of hope and through this hope be more open to receive the healing God wants to give us. ”

Father Siniscalchi’s talk had three segments: hope, Holy Spirit and healing.

“Hope does not mean that everything is easy, does not mean that everything is pleasant, does not mean everything goes the way that I think it should because the truth is the greater the challenge, the greater the glory; the greater the struggle, the greater the victory; the darker the moment, the brighter the light,” he said.

The day opened with greetings from Cardinal Dolan and Elizabeth Guevara de Gonzalez, director of the archdiocesan Office of Adult Faith Formation, and ended with Eucharistic adoration and Mass offered by Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen.

“Dear Lord, we ask for your inspiration and blessing upon today’s gathering, might you illuminate the minds of the good men and women you’ve gathered to this Bible summit. I pray they come to know your truth more fully and be inspired to serve you with their whole heart, soul and mind,” said Cardinal Dolan in the opening prayer. 

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