August 17, 2007

Ecumenical conference to be held in Indianapolis in September

By Sean Gallagher

On the morning after his election as the 264th successor of St. Peter in April 2005, Pope Benedict XVI told the cardinals who elected him that promoting Christian unity was his “primary task” and his ‘impelling duty.”

Catholics in the archdiocese can join the pope in this effort by participating in “Renovaré,” an ecumenical conference on Sept. 14-15 at the First Church of the Nazarene, 9401 E. 25th St. in Indianapolis.

Renovaré is an ecumenically oriented spiritual renewal weekend held in locations around the country each year.

It was founded by Quaker author Richard Foster and focuses on spiritual disciplines that Christians of diverse traditions hold in common.

The upcoming conference in Indianapolis is sponsored in part by the Indianapolis Center for Congregations, of which the archdiocese is a member. Some 25 other Christian congregations in and around the city are also working together to make the conference a success.

John Valenti, archdiocesan associate director of evangelization and faith formation, has been helping to organize the Renovaré conference and said that its thrust is part and parcel of what it means to be Catholic.

“We have a great desire to move toward Christian unity and to be in fellowship with all faiths so that all might be one,” Valenti said.

He emphasized, however, that this conference is geared toward ordinary Catholics and is not a formal ecumenical dialogue in which Church leaders meet with representatives of other Christian communities.

In fact, Valenti said that some of the most productive discussions at Renovaré will take place in between its presentations and small group discussions.

During those times, the conference’s participants will be able to informally share with each other how they go about their ministry, sharing what has been effective and what has not worked as well.

“If, by chance, I see that maybe they’re doing something better than what I do, well, you know what? I should be doing that,” Valenti said.

The presentations given at the conference will focus on what unifies Christians, including traditions of prayer, social justice, evangelization and striving for holiness.

There will also be opportunities for common worship and small group discussions.

Ultimately, Valenti said that Catholics in central and southern Indiana who participate in the upcoming Renovaré conference can come away from it with “an awareness that we can be in prayer and fellowship with other Christian groups and be enhanced by those relationships.”

(For more information about Renovaré or to register, log on to or call 800-382-9836, ext. 1432 or 317-236-1432.) †

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