He told wonderful stories demonstrating how parents really are the best and most important teachers of their children, capable of inspiring faith through the example of their lives. He likes to get parents talking about their goals for their children in the context of religious training. It's kind of a sneaky trick, but the good kind.
For instance, according to the consensus of our group, typically parents want their children to:
1) celebrate the sacraments
2) understand their faith
3) have a belief system to turn to in times of trouble.
Once you've got parents expressing these goals, you've implicitly made a contract with them that makes them more active participants in the process! Clever fellow.
And after he'd gotten us all talking to each other and thinking about some interesting issues, he said something that I really liked: "Once you're talking to each other, it's a sacred place." I think that makes a lot of sense. It's one thing to passively listen and be inspired in the solitude of your own mind, but another to open to another person's reactions and share your own. It creates a sort of community that amplifies the value of the discussion, because it becomes more personal.
I also want to recommend the CDs of a Catholic singer/composer who performed at the MAC's beautiful Way of the Cross on Friday evening, Danielle Rose. Her "Agony in the Garden" was truly haunting and intimate. I just had to run over to the Exhibit Hall and buy a couple of her albums: Mysteries, which features all the mysteries of the Rosary in poetic expressions from various points of view, and Defining Beauty, her first album, with more Catholic faith songs. Take a look at her site. Her bio is very interesting.
There's so much more, I can't possibly fit everything I learned into one column. I loved Cecilia Regan's presentation on whole-community catechesis. A DRE for more than twenty years before taking on the position of Director of Catechesis for the Diocese of Metuchen, Regan made the spiritual formation of her catechists her first priority. She created a spiritual "community" among them, out of which flowed well-informed and inspiring teaching. So wonderful!
All in all, the Mac was a very instructive and enjoyable event. I'd like to thank the organizers once again, for inviting me to cover the congress as a media representative. Thank you so much, Therese Brown, Fr. John Hurley, CSP, and Paul Hendersen. Thank you to Father James Martin, S.J., Dr. Joseph White, and to Michael Ruzicki, for their wonderful pre-event interviews.
And many thanks to Elizabeth Scalia and Dan Welch, here at Patheos, for all their support. It was exciting being able to quickly blog about the MAC at Summa This, Summa That. If readers would like more details on some of the other MAC presentations, check out the blog for concise summaries.