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Where Courage and Hope Meet

In this keynote address Sister Norma Pimentel will speak on the universal call to embrace our brothers and sisters who are forced to migrate from their homeland with courage and hope. This is a call that has been given to us by Jesus and emphasized by Pope Francis. Thus, it is our responsibility to ensure that our brothers and sisters are treated with compassion, love and mercy. This witness embodies tender care that embraces welcome and hope. Sister Norma will explore this call by sharing how the Humanitarian Respite Center, a ministry of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, has received, assisted and supported more than 100,000 individuals and is inspiring our church and world to do the same.

Sister Norma Pimentel, MJ as Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, oversees the charitable arm of the Diocese of Brownsville, providing oversight of the different ministries and programs in the areas of emergency assistance, housing assistance, military assistance, clinical counseling, pregnancy care, and was instrumental in quickly organizing community resources to respond to the surge of Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States and setting up the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, TX.

Sister Norma received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Pan American University in Edinburg, TX; a Master’s Degree in Theology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX; and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University in Chicago, IL.

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Courage for an Interim Time that Does Not Yet Know Its Name

In a recent address to an Italian youth gathering, Pope Francis declared that we are not living in an “era of change,” but rather “a change of eras.” This period of deep and through-going change carries with it dangers of fragmentation and instability, as witnessed by the rise of demagogic nationalisms and intolerant populisms around our globe. Profound unease, unrest, and dislocations mark our engagements with racial justice, sexuality, the environment – and with the church and religious life itself. Ours is an age of anxiety and fragility, experienced on every level: personally, interpersonally, socially, and culturally. For we do not yet know how to name ourselves. The faith tradition offers us understandings of courage, that virtue that enables us to live in authentic hope as we dwell in the midst of what cannot yet be fully named.

Father Bryan Massingale is a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He completed his formal education in Rome at the pontifical institute for moral theology, earning the degree, Doctor of Moral Theology, “summa cum laude.” His current writing projects explore the contributions of Black radicalism to Catholic theology and the intersections of race, sexuality, and faith.

He currently is the James and Nancy Buckman Professor of Theological and Social Ethics at Fordham University and Senior Fellow in its Center for Ethics Education. Prior to his recent appointment at Fordham, he was Professor of Theology at Marquette University (Milwaukee), where in 2009 he received that institution’s highest award for excellence in teaching. A leader in Catholic theology, he is a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and a past Convener of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium.


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Wisdom from Thomas Merton for Becoming Signs of Courageous Hope Today

This travel and immersion experience to the Abbey of Gethsemani and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth campus is an opportunity for renewal and reflection. Drawing on the prophetic writings and lived example of Thomas Merton, we will explore the manifold ways Merton’s legacy continues to inspire and challenge religious women and men in our contemporary age. Rooted in a robust commitment to contemplation, Merton’s experience of ongoing conversion led to a strong sense of justice and peacemaking that flows from prayer and community. We will consider the ways that Merton’s insights offer contemporary women and men in religious life to bring together contemplation and action in the service of the church and world, particularly as it concerns issues of peace and nonviolence, racial justice, and interreligious dialogue.

Daniel P. Horan, OFM, PhD is a Franciscan Friar, Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology and Spirituality at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and the author of numerous articles and twelve books, including The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton: A New Look at the Spiritual Influence on his Life, Thought, and Writing (2014) and, most recently, Reading, Praying, Living Pope Francis’s Rejoice and Be Glad (2019).

A leading international Merton scholar, he was previously elected to the International Thomas Merton Society (ITMS) Board of Directors for three terms and is currently on the editorial board of the academic journal The Merton Annual. He is currently editing for publication the correspondence of Thomas Merton and Naomi Burton Stone, his longtime literary agent, editor, and close friend.

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Building Resiliency: Skills for Healthy Religious Life

Men and women in religious life face their own personal struggles, and they are also called upon to guide others through difficult times. Becoming more resilient can improve your ability to handle adversity and manage stress in a healthy way. This workshop explores the current research on resiliency, offers strategies for building personal resilience, and discusses ways to encourage resilient behavior in others.

Emily Cash, PsyD is a licensed psychologist and a member of the clinical services department at Saint Luke Institute since 2006. She received her graduate degree in clinical psychology from Spalding University in Kentucky and completed her doctoral training in a community mental health setting in New York City.

Her clinical services include individual and group therapy, psychological evaluation and assessment, and facilitation of psycho-educational groups for mental health and well-being. Dr. Cash is the director of the candidate assessment program for Saint Luke Institute and the director of Saint Luke Center, a ministry of Saint Luke Institute in Louisville, Kentucky.

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Contemporary Issues in the Ministry of Formation: Living In and Through Transitions

This workshop will explore various issues in the formation process. We will begin by exploring our role as facilitators of change and transition. Those in formation experience numerous transitions entering the culture of religious life, living inter-culturally and inter-generationally to name a few. How do we prepare them for these and a life of ongoing change and transitions that religious life entails? In addition, we as formators experience our own transitions and those of our congregations. Through practical exercises and theory, we will sharpen our awareness of the need to embrace and facilitate conversations about transitions.

We will also explore other issues in formation that participants may bring to this workshop for facilitated group exploration.

Paul Michalenko, ST, PhD is a religious Brother with the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity. He has served as Novice director and coordinator of his congregation’s international vocation and formation programs while serving on the general council. He taught at the Institute of Religious Formation for 17 years and was director of that program for six years.

Paul has served as a facilitator and organizational consultant to many church and nonprofit groups over the past thirty-five years. He has worked with women’s and men’s religious congregations, facilitating reconfiguration processes, assemblies, chapters, pastoral planning and other transition processes.


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The Second Formative Journey in Religious Life: Managing Change

Religious women and men are invited and encouraged to participate enthusiastically in a process of lifelong formation and conversion, that is, in a conscious and continual re-turning of the heart, mind and body towards Christ and the Gospel. Religious are encouraged to pay particular attention to the “interior journey” offered and revealed in every ongoing formation experience. These experiences call us to welcome the space, opportunity and time for one’s renewal of self. The “Second Journey – Ongoing Formation” can support women and men in the various ages and stages of life.

The “Second Journey” invites Religious women and men to deepen their understanding of their call and place in the charism, mission and ministry of the congregation by reflecting upon their past and current experiences as Religious.

This workshop will share practical components in formulating specific ongoing formation renewal experiences and programs that reflect the individual charism of the congregation. Components may include: One’s Vocation Story and Ministry Experience; Changes and Transitions in Life, Mission and Ministry; Prayer and Contemplation and Life Review and Life Planning.

Wayne Fitzpatrick, M.M., M.A., M.S., C-GCM is a Maryknoll Missioner, holds an M.A. Degree in Theology, Maryknoll School of Theology and an M.S. Degree in Pastoral Counseling, Loyola University of Maryland. He earned a Certificate in Geriatric Care Management from Misericordia University, Dallas, PA.

Brother Wayne served in Vocation Ministry and as Director of Brothers Formation for the Maryknoll Society. He served for a three year term on the National Board for the Religious Brothers Conference.

At the 1990 General Chapter he was elected Assistant General. During his years on the General Council (1990-1996) he served also as Secretary General and traveled extensively throughout the Maryknoll missions in Asia/Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the United States.

headshot18.hr2Fostering Healthy Sexual Integration in Formation: Practical Tools, Tips, and Skills

Everyone acknowledges that dealing with sexuality is an important part of formation for religious life, but few of us have had good training or models for how to broach the conversation and where to go from there! Using a holistic psychological framework, this workshop will offer practical skills and tools for furthering sexual integration in formation.

This is a two-part workshop, but participants are welcome to come to either (or both) parts. The goal is for formators to leave the session with greater confidence, clarity and a handful of tools to incorporate into their program to further healthy sexual integration during formation.

PART 1: In this part we will give an overview of sexual integration tasks in formation and discuss common challenges for men and women. We will focus on how to develop greater personal comfort and confidence in addressing sexuality in formation. We will explore ways to create an emotionally safe environment for those in formation to discuss their sexuality with you. Sensitivity to cultural differences will be discussed.

PART 2: In this part we will present a series of practical tools that can be utilized in a formation program to further personal reflection and healthy integration. We will also discuss common challenges and offer guidance about how to address complex situations such as a history of sexual trauma, interpersonal violence, or sexual compulsivity. Tips on working effectively with therapists will be offered.

Kathy Galleher, Ph.D is a licensed psychologist with over 25 years of experience who specializes in working with those in religious life and ministry. She has doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology from Colorado State University.  She was a staff psychologist at the St. Luke Institute for 8 years.

In 2006 she started “KMG Consultation”, which specializes in promoting healthy ministry by providing psychological education and support for those in ministry.  She is an active member of the Washington Area Formator’s Network where she directs a 4 year program on Healthy Sexual Integration and Intimacy for men in formation. She presents on a variety of topics, including healthy community, healthy boundaries, self care, and ministry from abundance, conflict management, healthy sexual integration for celibates.

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New Media Culture: Profound Brokenness and Glorious Possibilities

The new media reality in which we operate is rife with both challenge and gift. What is new media culture and how does it complicate and facilitate our work as formators and leaders?

This seminar will examine the ways the Christian message has always been mediated by ‘new media’ and contextualize today’s unique challenges and opportunities. The conversation will focus on ways new media are more than simply tools and how critical thinking around the values and strategies digital media employ impact communities of faith. In addition to the cultural pitfalls of the new media terrain, possibilities will be explored for how faith communities can utilize new media in ways that inspire courageous hope and cultivate prophetic action.

Ryan Hoffmann, MEd, MA serves as the Associate Director of the Religious Formation Conference. He has an extensive background as a Catholic nonprofit professional in marketing and communications.

Ryan’s work at Loyola University Chicago, Catholic Theological Union, Giving Voice, and the RFC has given him an expanse of experience reflecting on the impact of new media (e.g., social media) in building up the reign of God.

Ryan has Masters degrees in Higher Education Administration (Iowa State University) and Spirituality (Loyola University Chicago). Having attained his Master of Divinity equivalency, he is currently studying in the Ecumenical Doctor of Ministry program at Catholic Theological Union.

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Moving Toward Mutuality

Mutuality can seem as slippery as a fish; an idea that is once caught can easily slide back into watery and mysterious depths. By considering the anthropological and philosophical understanding of mutuality, this session will put the theoretical into practical language within the context of the religious-associate relationship. The movement toward greater mutuality will be illustrated with the aid of examples and discussion. Together we will learn how to bring mutuality into our boats and into our relationships.

Marci Madary, DMin has ministered in the realm of spirituality throughout her professional life and is passionate about the intersection between theology and the lives of the laity.  Along with speaking on a variety of topics revolving around spirituality, Marci facilitates groups, provides spiritual direction, and writes poetry.

She earned a Doctor of Ministry in spirituality at Catholic Theological Union; her thesis explores the dynamic of mutuality between women and men who minister together.  Married and a mother of two young adults, she deeply treasures the relationships in her life.

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Intercultural Living: A Call to Transformation

The future of religious life in the United States will depend on our capacity to embrace intercultural living. While diversity has always been part of the Catholic story, the opportunities it presents today are unique. Men and women religious are called to embrace the journey of intercultural living with gentleness, joy, and intentionality. This workshop will use the U-Theory process to explore the transformational and conversion process that intercultural living requires.

Teresa Maya, CCVI, MA, PhD has been a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX, since 1994. Her ministry has been in education and she has served as a teacher, a history professor, and an administrator. Her passion is for the formation of ministers for Hispanics/ Latinos in the United States.

Sister Teresa earned her B.A. at Yale University, her M.A. at the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley, CA, and her Ph.D. at El Colegio de Mexico in Mexico City. She is currently serving as Congregational Leader for her religious community and is Past-President of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).


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Prophets of Joy for a Church and World in Crisis: Art and Stories

Brother Mickey will share his paintings and stories of saints and prophetic figures who inspire us with hope and joy in the midst of our dark and messy times. From the Visitation of Mary and Elizabeth to modern day prophets such as Dorothy Day, Thea Bowman, Nicholas Black Elk, and Teilhard de Chardin, we will take a fresh and colorful look at these reforming messengers of the Holy Spirit who can help us move forward with peace and confidence. The Holy Spirit does not fly backwards!

Brother Mickey McGrath, OSFS an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, currently lives and works in Camden, NJ. His ministry is devoted to sharing the gifts given to him through the charism of his religious community, and through his own unique talents as an award-winning artist, author, and speaker. Everything he creates, whether visual, written, or spoken, is a celebration of spirituality, developing from the deep connections that exist among art, beauty, and faith. This is the gift he so generously shares through his work.

Brother Mickey’s sacred art consists of paintings, designed at the request of various church communities, or commissioned by individuals. His illustrations are sought as cover art; for magazine articles and for use in textbooks, by leading Catholic publishers. In addition, he travels throughout the United States, presenting numerous reflections, retreats, and workshops. Using his artwork as a backdrop for the sharing of colorful stories from the Gospels and from the lives of the saints, he incorporates a refreshing blend of humor and depth. An underlying focus is the healing power of the creative spirit dwelling within each of us.

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