August 21, 2020

Catholic Answers’ Tim Staples is keynote speaker for virtual Gathering of Disciples event on Sept. 12

By Natalie Hoefer

This year’s Gathering of Disciples, sponsored annually by the archdiocesan Secretariat for Worship and Evangelization, will be held virtually from 9 a.m.-noon on Sept. 12. It will be offered in English and Spanish.

While the event provides formation and training for those in parish and school ministry—for example, catechists, teachers, liturgical ministers and parish evangelization teams—the event is open to all who are interested in evangelization.

“We’re using the word ‘ministry’ in the broad sense because we’re all called to share the faith as parents and friends,” says Ken Ogorek, archdiocesan director of the Office of Catechesis. “So, this [event] is for anyone with a passion for sharing the faith.”

The theme this year is, “Christ is Alive!” and Tim Staples will serve as the keynote speaker. Staples is an author and the director of apologetics and evangelization for Catholic Answers, a media ministry that answers questions about Church teaching. He will address “The Role of Apologetics in Parish Evangelization Outreach.”

“Even though apologetics isn’t the same as catechesis or evangelization, it does have a role to play,” says Ogorek. “Oftentimes, we do have to explain or defend our faith.”

One example when apologetics is necessary for evangelization is in dispelling the myth that the resurrection was not real.

Ogorek says the theme “Christ is Alive!” was chosen because the resurrection “is one of those things that isn’t always explained well, in that sometimes the historic reality of the resurrection isn’t made clear enough. … [Staples] will lay out a strong case for the historical reality of the resurrection and why that’s so important to us as disciples.”

Three additional speakers will take part in the online event.

Bill Keimig, assistant director of the Catechetical Institute at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, will address “RCIA: Back to Basics—Building on Experience, Rediscovering the Rite.”

Danny Klee is a middle school religion teacher at Christ the King School in Indianapolis who has participated in several archdiocesan initiatives, the latest of which is the revision of the archdiocese’s religion curriculum standards. He will offer “Teaching Tips for Catechists of sixth- through 12th Grades.”

The third speaker is Robert Alderman, a member from the Garden Grove, Calif.-based Magis Center. He will speak on the topic of “Connecting Religion and Science—Faith and Reason—for Learners of All Ages.”

Music and a witness talk will also be provided by the Hussey Brothers.

When it comes to his hopes for the event, Ogorek says the goal is always to accomplish “a combination of things.

“We look for good knowledge and content. We want to make sure especially in the breakout sessions that people get some skills in how to share the faith.

“And in the midst of it all, we want to provide people with a profound experience. This annual event is about spiritual development as well as ministerial development.”

Ogorek is especially pleased with how “we’re upping our game in audio and visual quality” by offering the event online rather than canceling it due to the pandemic.

“There’s such a great need for good formation among those who minister in parishes and schools that we didn’t want to go too long without offering some quality educational opportunity. And we know that technology allows us to do that in some innovative and amazing ways.

“So even though, like many people, we would prefer to be together in a real-time gathering, we’re happy we can provide a really high-quality, virtual experience for folks.”

While attendees will not be able to participate as a large, in-person group, Ogorek does encourage people to gather in local small groups—with appropriate social distancing—“especially because we have an opportunity for an unlimited number of people to participate from each parish.

“If folks could gather in small groups at the parish or cluster or deanery level, that might enhance the experience,” he said.

“Even though we’re leaving the large, in-person dimension out of the experience this year, this is still a really good opportunity, and we hope people register and participate.”

The cost is $10 per person, with a $50 maximum per parish. When registering, the ticket price will be listed as “free” because parishes will be assessed for the cost of registration.

For more information or to register, go to cutt.ly/gathering or call 317-236-1550. †

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