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Not the formula of a typical summer family festival, but one organizers of the Northeast Catholic Family Conference hope will be a hit.
The first Family Conference will be held July 16 and 17 at Stonehill College in North Easton under the theme “Making the Faith Visible: Embraced by the Father; Taught by the Son; and Filled by the Spirit.”
For two days, Catholic families will be invited to participate in a variety of faith-nurturing activities. A host of speakers, musicians, crafts, theatrical performances and lectures will challenge participants in age-appropriate categories.
In addition, the conference will include eucharistic adoration and daily Mass. The Mass on Saturday will be celebrated by Bishop Daniel P. Reilly, Bishop Emeritus of Worcester, and state chaplain of the Massachusetts Knights of Columbus. Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley will celebrate the Mass on Sunday.
The lives of various men and women, such as St. Gianna Beretta; Blessed James Alberione; Blessed Teresa of Calcutta; Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton, CSC; and Servant of God Father Michael McGivney, will also be presented as a way of teaching how to make faith visible.
"The way it is coming together, it looks to be a great event for family members of all ages, including seniors," asserted Father Michael Harrington, parochial vicar of St. Paul Church in Wellesley, the driving force behind the conference.
"This is the first time something like this has ever been done," said Father Harrington.
"To anyone who is a part of a family in any way, there is something for them here," he added.
According to Father Harrington, he first thought of the conference last year, during his tenure as state chaplain of the Knights of Columbus.
"I know that these years have been difficult for families to be strong in their faith," he explained, "and I wanted to give them something to build up the family."
Knowing that “the Knights of Columbus wanted to be the catalyst behind something that would build up the family,” Father Harrington approached the state board of the Knights of Columbus and disclosed his idea for the two-day conference.
"They were very excited about the entire event," he recalled.
Father Harrington then approached Stonehill College, because “they, too, had been wanting to build up the family in these difficult days.” The college agreed to host the two-day conference, he said.
According to Father Harrington, the registration fee, which includes admission to both days’ events, varies depending on the family unit. Registration is $75 for couples, $25 for teens or seniors, and $15 for children under age 12. However, to ensure that the conference is affordable to as many families as possible, organizers are also offering a special $95 family rate which includes admission for all immediate family members including parents, any number of children and even grandparents.
The fees also include lunch on both days. Although no overnight accommodations are included in the registration, Stonehill College is making some overnight facilities available at a discounted rate and area hotels are also providing discounts for conference participants.
The Northeast Catholic Family Conference is being sponsored by the Knights of Columbus in collaboration with Holy Cross Family Ministries, the Catholic Daughters of the Americas, the Daughters of St. Paul, the Archdiocese of Boston, and other neighboring dioceses.
[Editor’s note: For more information on the Northeast Catholic Family Conference, or to register for the event, go to www.necatholicfamilyconference.com or call (781) 551-0628.]