Faith Formation Conference energizes catechists and parish leaders, drawing more than 700 together in prayer and formation

By Mary Powers

The Office of Faith Formation held their annual conference on November 4 at St. Matthew Church and School in San Mateo. Drawing more than 700 catechists, directors of religious education, and other parish leaders, participants had the opportunity to come together in prayer and renew their faith. The bilinugal event featured more than 25 speakers and was the first in-person conference since 2019.

The goal of the conference according to Sr. Celeste Arbuckle, director of the Office of Faith Formation, is to “help catechists become better catechists, not only as teachers, but in their own faith life. Attendees are able  to connect with exhibitors to explore what’s new and maybe be motivated to look at change.”

The theme of the 2023 conference was Talitha Koum from the Gospel of Mark chapter five verse 41, referencing the story of Jesus’ raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead in Capernaum, a foreshadowing of our Lord’s own resurrection.

Speaking on the theme, Sr. Celeste explained that the theme was chosen as being raised again coming out of COVID-19 and looking at the Eucharistic Revival. “As the Archbishop says, it’s being raised up to be true disciples at this time in the world and really believe that the Eucharist grounds us in who we are as disciples.”

Student helpers pictured with Archbishop Cordileone.

The Faith Formation Conference included a talk by Archbishop Cordileone and workshops on topics such as whole-family faith formation, sessions on child development and reaching out to youth, as well as catechetical workshops on scripture and the Eucharist. It also featured the St. Augustine’s Children’s Choir and members of the St. Agnes Church choir who led the participants in prayer at the beginning of the day. Students from St. Matthew Catholic School, Junipero Serra High School, and Mercy High School assisted with the conference as well.

Archbishop Cordileone spoke on the important work catechists do in accompanying young people and adults in the faith as well as their work in restoring dignity to the human person, restoring the importance of marriage, and restoring families by supporting them in their faith. This is done by living a Eucharistic life centered on God.

Speaking to conference attendees, Archbishop Cordileone expressed his gratitude saying, “It is a very good thing that we come together for this Faith Formation Conference and renew ourselves in the work we carry out for our Lord and His Gospel and His Church. ….Thank you for your commitment to responding to this call that God has given to each one of you.”

The conference also included many exhibitors who offered resources to the catechetical leaders, giving them the opportunity to expand the materials for their programs and their personal development.

Mary Powers is the assistant director of communications for the Archdiocese of San Francisco,