Parents and their children are living in a cultural hurricane, making faith transmission a greater challenge, says Dr. Tim Hogan, the clinical psychologist who was the keynote speaker at the Faith Enrichment Conference.

The conference, organized every two years by the Office for Faith Education at the Archdiocese of Montreal, was held November 6 and 7 at the Nouvel Hotel. The conference's focus is formation for catechists and anyone else interested in deepening their faith knowledge.

Emily Pace, Associate Director in the Faith Education department, first heard Hogan at a Buffalo catechetical conference in May. After hearing his talk, she knew he had to come to Montreal and speak to our catechists and parents!

Hogan's keynote highlighted the effects globalization, electronics and the change in our social cultures has had on our children and their relationships with the world. Dr. Hogan's use of humour to discuss the realities parents are facing captured the attention of everyone in the audience, who could easily relate, as expressed by Cynthia Paginado, one of the attendees of the keynote:

"I found Dr. Hogan's high-energy, humour and poignant reflections very engaging. He helped us understand the cultural hurricane that has swept our society into a different lifestyle so quickly, that many families were not prepared for it. Families are being torn in all directions to keep up with a high-paced lifestyle that making time for prayer, family time, sharing meals and parish community life just isn't a priority anymore." Paginado says, "We need to explore creating new connections between parents, children and their parishes, ones that can allow our faith communities to help lead them back to a place of growing in faith and spiritual joy." The conference offered a variety of different workshops; among the topics were the sacraments, the Bible, the Creed, the new evangelization and social justice. A popular one was "Commando Tactics in Teaching," offered by Fr. Francesco Giordano. Many catechists said they need the help!

There was also a focus on the subject of teens, as a big concern for many parishes is the mindset that confirmation is "graduation" from active participation in the church. Isabel Correa offered a workshop on "Confirmation Done, Now What?" to provide some strategies to keep teens involved. "Theology of the Body for Teens" was presented, and different youth ministries were on hand to showcase what they are all about.

One difference at the 2015 conference compared with other years was the presence of ministries that provide support for children outside the Faith First program range of 6-12.

Little Hearts Playgroup, for small children aged 0-4, presented their program, which awakens the faith in the very young using parent/child activities.

Alpha Canada, Net Ministries and our diocesan Youth Ministry team were on hand to discuss option for older kids.

Attendees from over 40 parishes and organizations participated. When asked what they thought about the conference, many particularly enjoyed the energy the conference generated and the connectivity they felt, not only to people they had not seen in a while, but to other Catholics. The conference is a great way to network, to discuss issues and to generate new ideas. 

There was also a vendor room where various religious items, books and videos could be purchased. Shopping and learning, it turns out, is a winning combination!

The conference was given great support by RCL Benziger, who sponsored Dr. Tim Hogan's talk and provided workshops, and by The Pillars Trust Fund, who sponsored the other workshop speakers at the conference. Thank you!

The conference was a huge success! Please look for it again in November 2017.