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Virtual conference invites Catholic lay leaders to reflect on truth, seek wisdom


Joanne McPortland - published on 10/04/22

Augustine Institute Graduate School of Theology offers free online virtual conference to inspire, support lay leaders in evangelization and ministry.

Sixty years ago, the Second Vatican Council brought before Catholics the startling (to some) notion that lay men and women had an apostolate – a vocation to live and share the Gospel amid their present circumstances. The Church’s mission – Christ’s mission – was not just the responsibility of bishops and clergy and religious. Lay leaders had work to do.

Now, 60 years later, Catholic lay leadership is so common as to be taken for granted. Like the documents of Vatican II, the apostolate of the laity can seem like old news.

The council fathers anticipated this. They recognized that the laity, like all members of the Body of Christ, would require ongoing formation in the truth and the constant inspiration of the Holy Spirit’s wisdom – or their witness might grow formulaic and empty:

… [T]he laity can and must perform a work of great value for the evangelization of the world. … [It] remains for each one of them to cooperate in the external spread and the dynamic growth of the Kingdom of Christ in the world. Therefore, let the laity devotedly strive to acquire a more profound grasp of revealed truth, and let them insistently beg of God the gift of wisdom.

Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen gentium), 35

The Augustine Institute, founded to serve the formation of Catholics for the New Evangelization, takes up this critical challenge. Through academic and parish programs, it equips Catholics intellectually, spiritually, and pastorally to renew the Church and transform the world for Christ.

An invitation to deeper reflection

If you are a lay leader serving in a parish, diocese, or Catholic apostolate, the Augustine Institute Graduate School of Theology invites you to attend a virtual conference to strengthen you in your role. The Wisdom of Christ and His Church for the Good of Souls will take place Monday, October 17, from 2:00-5:00 p.m. MDT.

You will hear from experienced faculty as they discuss a renewed vision for evangelization and formation. As the Church observes the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, presentations will highlight the way in which the Council’s documents illumine the mission of the Church. You’ll be invited into deeper reflection on the centrality of the deposit of the faith in your apostolic work.


Highlights of the conference

Prof. Lucas Pollice will help lay leaders move beyond the New Evangelization as a buzzword and recommit themselves to what St. John Paul II called “the great grace and sure compass” for the Church in the Third Millennium.

Dr. Sean Innerst will help lay leaders use the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a lens for a focused look at the documents of the Second Vatican Council, dispelling confusion over the questions lay leaders often face.

Dr. Michael Barber will help lay leaders understand the Council’s emphatic placement of the Bible at the heart of theology and discuss concrete steps for ensuring Pope Francis’ desire that scripture remain “a door open to every believer.”

Faculty presenters will also hold a panel discussion at the end of the afternoon, to which registrants are invited to submit questions.

A way to “catch flame”

When Dr. Sean Innerst was asked about the value of this virtual conference to lay leaders, he replied: “As Pope St. John Paul II said, the faith is increased when it is shared. In this virtual conference, we’ll have a wonderful chance to do that, grow in faith. But not only is the great content worth the ticket, so to speak, but the enthusiasm and joy of the presenters is infectious. This is a great way to ‘catch flame’ again.

The Wisdom of Christ and His Church for the Good of Souls: A Virtual Conference for Lay Leaders is being offered free of charge and is open to all, but participants must register in advance. (Register now.) Registrants will be given a link to join the conference online.

More to come

The October 17 virtual conference is just one aspect of the Augustine Institute Graduate School of Theology’s commitment to forming and transforming leaders for the New Evangelization. There will be an in-person conference for lay leaders in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for example, on November 12 (click here to learn more).


Attendees at both the online and in-person conferences will also be among the first to hear about the Augustine Institute Graduate School of Theology’s new Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology program for lay leaders, with an optional Concentration in Catechesis, which is available both on-campus and via distance education.

Prof Lucas Pollice makes the case for why this is the moment to seize on the connection between the Second Vatican Council and the New Evangelization: “Vatican II provides the vision and blueprint for the New Evangelization and brought about a true renewal of the Church for this mission of the evangelization of the modern world. And recently, Pope Francis has called upon the Church to read the four Constitutions of Vatican II in 2023 in preparation for the 2025 Jubilee Year. All recent popes have asked for this because having a true understanding of Vatican II unlocks the vision and mission of the New Evangelization.”

It’s a great time for lay leaders to remember the enthusiasm and gravity with which the Second Vatican Council opened 60 years ago, and to be reminded:

The Lord wishes to spread His kingdom also by means of the laity, namely, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace … Clearly then a great promise and a great trust is committed to the disciples: “All things are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”

Lumen gentium, 36

Click here for more information on the virtual conference for lay leaders and to register.

Click here to learn more about The Augustine Institute Graduate School of Theology and its programs.

This content has been brought to you in partnership with The Augustine Institute Graduate School of Theology.

FaithNew EvangelizationVatican II
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