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March 5, 2017

‘The Holy Spirit was with us’: Indiana Holy Family Catholic Conference draws more than 500 participants

Jenny Goeppner of Covington attended this year’s conference with her children Berna-dette, 13, Daisy, 14, Fulton, 7, and Mary, 17. “We come because this is for the whole family,” she said. (Photo by Caroline Mooney)

Jenny Goeppner of Covington attended this year’s conference with her children Berna-dette, 13, Daisy, 14, Fulton, 7, and Mary, 17. “We come because this is for the whole family,” she said. (Photo by Caroline Mooney)

By Caroline B. Mooney

KOKOMO — Caitie Rose Beardmore called the 11th annual Holy Family Catholic Conference “the best kept secret in our diocese.”

It drew 505 people from 149 families, 25 parishes, six dioceses and three states on Feb. 25 at Kokomo High School.

“It is excellent — there is something for everyone,” said Beardmore, who served as the day’s emcee. “I’ve been to a lot of retreats and this is one of the best organized I have ever seen. When you are bringing your family to something, you want to be sure it’s worth it. This is worth it.”

The conference theme was “He Saved Me Because He Delighted in Me” (Psalm 18:20).

Organized by St. Joan of Arc and St. Patrick parishes, the event was made possible with approximately 200 volunteers.

The day began with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and a Eucharistic procession to the adoration chapel. The day concluded with the celebration of Mass; Bishop Emeritus William L. Higi was the principal celebrant. Golden Voices, a student choir from St. Theodore Guerin High School, Noblesville, sang at Mass.

The retreat offered catechesis, reconciliation, music, a Kids’ Corner, programs for high-school and middle-school students, and babysitting for children under age 2.

Held over two days in previous years, this conference was a one-day event.

Speakers included Father Leo Patalinghug, Father Rick Nagel, Dr. Chuck Dietzen and Dominick Albano.

“It was pretty unanimous that people who attended this year’s conference were delighted with the speakers and new one-day format,” said Jan Marrah, director of parish life at St. Joan of Arc and conference coordinator. “We had many new people excited to be at the conference who in previous years could not commit to a whole weekend. The cooking competition with Father Leo after lunch was so much fun for the families to all enjoy together!

“The Holy Spirit was clearly with us again this year — you could see it in all the families who attended, the speakers, the volunteers, the vendors and the priests,” she said. “God has truly blessed the Indiana Holy Family Catholic Conference! We are excited for 2018 and will begin plans for it as soon as we wrap up 2017. Thank you to all who support the Indiana Holy Family Catholic Conference — we love you!”

“This is uplifting for me personally as a Catholic and for my priesthood,” said Father Matthew Arbuckle, pastor of St. Joan of Arc. “I am encouraged and this gives me a sense of optimism to see the joyfulness of families and the faithful who are here. It is also encouraging and fulfilling to see the general activity going on. Everybody is engaging in everything the conference has to offer — and it has a lot to offer.

“The whole day is very well ordered toward sanctification, toward holiness in a family and in a community through the intercession of the Holy Family,” he said.

Dr. Dietzen is a pediatric rehab specialist at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, an author and the founder/president of Timmy Global Health.

“My goal is not to cure people, but how to heal them,” he said. “If you have a faith basis, if you have Jesus in your heart, healing makes sense whether it’s this life or the next. We know what chemotherapy does and radiation does and certain drug doses, but we don’t know what faith does, what hope does or what love does when we stand at the bedside and just be present.”

He tells medical students that his young patients have taught him important virtues that doctors need to be healers, to live in this world and love this world.

“Be present — without technology. We must connect; we are designed to connect,” Dietzen said. “You need to be vulnerable. You will have your heart broken — that’s a given.”

The greatest moment in his life, he said, was meeting Mother Teresa, who showed him the importance of being ordinary. She told him to give his patients hope and stay at their bedside.

“What I learned about working with the Missionaries of Charity is this — I thought these ladies are all quite extraordinary; I can’t possibly do what they do,” he said. “What I realized was that, no, they were quite ordinary, but they had an extraordinary mission.

“You must know that about each of yourselves. In God’s eyes, you have perfection for that specific mission he put you here for. Be ordinary. Be exemplary. Carry through on your extraordinary mission.

“Be an inspiration,” Dietzen said. “Kids are watching us. You better set a good example. Go forward. Be an instrument of peace and live through your heart.

“We have a wonderful world, a wonderful God and a wonderful savior,” he said. “Be thankful. I am thankful you invited me here today, I am thankful you are here because you believe our faith and our families are important and I am thankful that God has brought us together to do an extraordinary mission though we are just ordinary people.”

In a talk on “Letting God Love Us,” Beardmore drew inspiration from the prayer “Jesus, let me let you love me.”

“It’s getting out of our own way to let God in,” she said. “God only needs the door to our hearts open a small amount to break in.”

In her first time at the conference, Beardmore said she kept tearing up seeing so many families in attendance.

“I know that they’re not perfect,” she said. “Moms were yelling at their kids to get in the van this morning, dads were missing some games — but knowing that they are here, and they’re trying and doing it — this is what holiness looks like. It doesn’t look perfect. It’s messy, it’s gross, people yell. But this is what holiness looks like. It’s awesome.”

“I think the timing of the conference is great, being so close to Lent,” said Tyler Moore, a member of St. Patrick, Kokomo. “It’s an opportunity to do something spiritual as opposed to athletics or indulging before Lent.”

“The one-day conference has been a nice change. This being the 11th year, it’s nice to see a lot of new faces,” said Liz White, a conference organizer and family life coordinator at St. Patrick. “We’ve had new volunteers, some from outside of Kokomo. I’ve been amazed to see the amount of people who have stepped up. We are utilizing everybody to grow together in the Body of Christ. It’s been a blessing to see all these volunteers grow together in that.

“Kids are having a wonderful time as well and that’s what we are about as well,” she said. “We want kids to feel loved by God and have an incredible experience just like the adults are. I’m excited to see people here to grow together in God’s love and the Church.”

Mandy Smith, also from St. Patrick, has attended every year with her family.

“I think it’s healthy for the families to come,” she said. “I have four children and their friends come — it’s good for them to come and be involved. The social and Catholic aspects are great. It really brings the Catholic community together.”

Tenth-grader Isaac Sullivan, a member of St. Lawrence, Lafayette, said he likes meeting new people “who enjoy their faith, want to learn more about their faith and really want to use their faith in their lives. The talks are always amazing.”

Conference sponsors were the Lafayette diocese, St. Vincent Health Kokomo and Knights of Columbus
Council 656.

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