Latino Catholic group aims to bring faith to all life's aspects

2014 CALL National Conference. Credit: Catholic Association of Latino Leaders.

The Catholic Association of Latino Leaders’ national conference this August aims to achieve a “spiritual revolution” by helping Latino Catholics bring their faith into all aspects of life through serving their communities.

“Faith cannot be something independent or separated from our daily lives. It really has to be the prism through which we see everything,” Diana Richardson-Vela, president of CALL, told CNA May 2.

“We’re truly looking for the participants to take this calling to heart. Their faith life should be their compass for everything, from their faith formation, their family life, and their work.”

The CALL conference will be held Aug. 14-17 at the St. Regis Houston Hotel. The event features speakers and interactive workshops, as well as opportunities to attend Mass, go to Confession, and participate in social events.

Richardson-Vela said that the conference is “a wonderful forum” where attendees can “share their thoughts and engage in conversation and find very specific ways of how they can collaborate to serve the Latino community and their Church.”

CALL, founded in Denver in 2006, has more than 15 chapters across the U.S.

Richardson-Vela said the organization aims to help Latino leaders grow in understanding their Catholic faith. In cooperation with their local bishops, members take part in service programs that are often related to education, media and legislation.

Members also take part in a three-year plan of formation on topics such as Catholic social teaching, business ethics, family issues, and immigration issues.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston will celebrate the conference’s opening Mass on the campus of the University of St. Thomas. Sen. John McCain of Arizona will speak on immigration.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia will speak about the teachings of Pope Francis, while Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles will speak on the new evangelization and social media. Other speakers include Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio and Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix.

Richardson-Vela said that the presence of the bishops provides “a wonderful opportunity to engage in conversation” to discuss the needs of the Hispanic community and how leaders can better serve the Hispanic community within the Church.

The conference will discuss Pope Francis’ teachings, particularly his apostolic exhortation “Evangelium Gaudium,” and what these teaching mean for the Church and for the Hispanic community.

Richardson-Vela said that McCain’s presence at the conference is a “big confirmation” that the Hispanic population is growing “not only in numbers, but also in leadership positions.”

The presence of a senator who is working for immigration reform efforts “truly shows how the Hispanic community has a lot to say and a lot to give to the community and the country.”

Other speakers include Guzman Carriquiry, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, who will discuss how to integrate the American continent into the New Evangelization.

Christopher Kaczor, a philosophy professor at Loyola University Marymount in Los Angeles, will speak on the “Seven Myths of the Catholic Church,” while Terry Polakovic, executive director of ENDOW, will discuss feminism.

The conference will also seek to foster interest in the next World Meeting of Families, which aims to strengthen families around the world. Its next meeting is scheduled in Philadelphia Sept. 23-27. Organizers are hoping that Pope Francis will attend the September event.

Archbishop Chaput will address the CALL conference about the upcoming World Meeting of Families. The conference has also invited Philadelphia auxiliary, Bishop John McIntyre, to speak about the event and to discuss why Catholics need to center on the family.

The following year, the 2015 CALL conference will be held in Philadelphia at the same time as the World Meeting of Families.

Archbishop Gomez said April 9 that the CALL conference is “a great opportunity to help Latinos love and live their faith more fully and exercise greater responsibility in our Church and in our society.”

Richardson-Vela said that past conferences have helped many people renew their faith while meeting like-minded leaders who are “facing the same challenges as they are.”

Registration for the 2014 conference in Houston is $485 for members of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders and $575 for non-members.


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