As I write this, I am here at my gate at Denver International Airport on the way to attend the 2014 Catholic Answers National Conference in San Diego. I have been looking forward to attending this conference all year long.
Someone recently asked me why I would travel to attend something like this. Obviously, the top notch array of speakers is the primary draw… you just can’t find such consistent Catholic apologetics all in one place like this… but that wasn’t all. The thing that I found most invigorating is the community aspect of the conference. I was surrounded with Catholics that were passionate about their faith… that wanted to learn it, defend it, and live it. To me, this just reinforces that the Church is alive and well… despite common claims of the secular media.
My parish in Westminster enjoys some great, passionate men and women. The trouble is that only a few dozen of them are compelled to participate in events, to meet and discuss the faith, and to evangelize. At the conference, I am surrounded by hundreds of people and you can feel the energy and enthusiasm all around you.
The other primary benefit is getting to hear an extended speech from an archbishop. Last year, it was Bishop Conley of the Lincoln diocese. This year, it is going to be Archbishop Sample of the Portland archdiocese. The few times that I have gotten to hear an archbishop speak it has been very impactful, and the opportunity to discuss the faith directly with them and hear them speak at length on a topic is worth the price of admission. I recounted that last year, Bishop Conley’s speech was so engaging and rich that it bordered on mystifying. He spoke about the importance of beauty in evangelization and I still think about that speech today.
This year I thought ahead and I brought my laptop along. This means that I will be able to do a much better job of covering this year’s conference, so stay tuned for more. If you are interested in reading my coverage from last year, you can find it here.