October 29, 2017

One of my favorite parts of the Centennial celebration has been the Centennial Speaker Series.

This has been new ground for me.  While I’ve worked on a wide range of events in my career, putting together a year-long speaker series aimed at presenting something for (almost) everyone was a new and somewhat daunting task.

We started looking for potential speakers well over a year in advance.  Fr. Brad and I made a habit of asking folks who they read, who they follow and who they listen to.  That got us a wide-ranging wish list of potential speakers, and from there, we started working through our options.

Vetting our list was an interesting dance.  There were lots of factors to weigh, including marketability, contracts, schedules and fees.   A combination of perseverance, serendipity and grace brought  Fr. Tom McCarthy to present our parish mission in March, Bishop Robert Barron in April and Matthew Kelly in June.  All three were remarkable and enriching!

From the get-go, we specifically wanted to get someone to whom youth and young adults could relate.  One day, a group of our      seminarians were here for a ceremony, and I asked them the who do you read/follow/listen to  question. They immediately lifted up Fr. John Kartje, the rector of Mundelein Seminary.

Fr. Kartje is an astrophysicist and a priest.  While he could talk on a myriad of topics, we asked him to present his thoughts on the relationship between faith and science. He was here a few weeks ago, and the talk was brilliant.

In his discussion, Fr. Kartje stepped through his rationale for how faith and science peacefully coexist.  He didn’t debunk the Book of Genesis or anything like that.   Rather, he focused on who knew what when.  My biggest takeaway was when he explained that the Bible was inspired by God, but written by humans.  As Fr. Kartje pointed out,  those humans could only write based upon what they knew and understood at the time.  To me, that’s a sensible framework through which to seek to understand scripture.

One of the biggest positives of the night was the crowd.  At least of a third of the attendees were under 25—our target audience for this talk.  I was so grateful to the high schools and universities for encouraging their students to come. I’ve talked to several of these students who gave it a thumbs up.

I was also a bit surprised to see a fair number of our long-standing parishioners there.  I made the assumption they all had this faith/science thing figured out already, but there they were expanding their knowledge.  I love to see people actively developing their faith.

Our next—and last—event is November 9 whenColleen Murphy Duggan comes to lead a discussion titled Confessions of an Imperfect Catholic Mom.

Colleen has written a book by the same title (it’ll be published by Ave Maria Press in April, 2018).   She’ll use several key chapters (or “confessions”) as the format of this 90-minute session that is perfect for parents, grandparents, God parents, step-parents, aunt, uncles and guardians.

In this case, the person answering the who do you read/follow/listen to question was our principal, Marjorie Hill.  She was in the University of Notre Dame’s ACE Program with Colleen, and she suggested we check her out on Facebook and at colleenmurphyduggan.com.  Give her a look yourself.

I’ve been talking with Colleen quite a bit, and I have to say I really like her.  She’s funny, smart and a mother of six so she knows something about parenting.  She is also a devout Catholic, and based upon her writings, it’s clear she’s figured out how her faith can make a very  positive impact on her parenting.    

Please come!  I really want to pack the Cathedral for this talk.  I     guarantee everyone will go home with a few things that they can do better…not just from Colleen’s words, but from sharing with others.  Colleen is planning to have some informal discussion time built into her talk.

And in case you are wondering, this is not just a “mom thing.”  Dads are parents too and your presence is important.   All are welcome!

I know it’s tough for parent to get away on school nights, but this is worth the hassle. Do something good for yourself! Please, make plans to be with us.

Eileen Hooks Gutierrez
Director of Development and Projects Liaison
815-722-6653, extension 242

P.S. And if your kids are older like my high schooler and college son, come!  I’ve seen an outline of the talk, and it applies even if your    children are nearing adulthood.   (Because holy smokes, that’s when parenting gets really tough!)


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