By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Catholics in the Diocese of Davenport are gearing up for the upcoming Christ Our Life Conference in Des Moines, which will take place Sept. 29-30 at Wells Fargo Arena.
The biennial event features Catholic speakers, Mass each day, an adoration chapel, eucharistic procession, adoration and benediction, Divine Mercy Chaplet, reconciliation, praise music throughout the weekend and dozens of Catholic exhibitors.
Speakers for this year’s conference include Cardinal Thomas Collins of the Archdiocese of Toronto and Bishop Robert Barron. “Cardinal Collins is like the Cardinal Dolan of Canada, gregarious and joyful and funny,” said Patty Erusha of St. Mary Parish in Solon. “We’re looking forward to having him. Of course, Bishop Barron is going to be amazing.”
Erusha is one of two Christ Our Life volunteer promoters in the Diocese of Davenport. Pam Ockenfels, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Wellman, is the other promoter. Erusha and Ockenfels have been contacting parishes in the diocese to help them promote the conference and sell tickets.
Erusha noted that most communities in the diocese have been promoting this conference, which focuses on helping families and individuals get fired up about their faith. “Being a mom and a wife, being so on fire with my faith, I want to be able to pass on (that enthusiasm) to my kids and have my husband’s faith grow, too. We go as a family, and not one of them complains about going.”
The variety of speakers ensures that every participant is exposed to something that hits close to home. “It’s supposed to hit the whole family and it does,” Erusha said. “Each of us will be drawn to a different speaker. It’s ok and expected that you may not like all of them. … Enjoy the ones with which you identify. Be challenged by the others to listen anyway, to not judge other hearts, to accept those who are different. Make that an intentional and fun exercise in humility.”
Additional speakers this year are Father Leon Pereira, OP, chaplain to English-speaking pilgrims in Medjugorje; Renée Bondi, singer and speaker who testifies about her life following a paralyzing accident; Steve Ray, Catholic convert, biblical scholar and Holy Land tour leader; Matt Fradd, an apologist who speaks on the dangers of pornography; Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow and Jimmy Belabre, representing Mary’s Meals; and Steve Angrisano, music missionary who will weave praise and prayer throughout the weekend.
Several diocesan groups have made plans to attend to the conference, Erusha said. For example, Newman Catholic Student Center at the University of Iowa has made the conference their fall retreat. Church of the Visitation Parish in Camanche has arranged for confirmation students to attend. St Joseph Parish in DeWitt is sending a group, and Father Thom Hennen, chaplain of St. Ambrose University, plans to take a group. Other arrangements are in the works.
The cost to attend is $25 for adults and $15 for youths and college students. Purchase tickets online at www.christourlifeiowa.com or check your parish. “We’re trying to invite and get people there because it’s been such an awesome experience (in the past),” Erusha said.