There is a common misperception that Catholics don’t read the Bible. Tell that to the more than 200 people from around the U.S. who attended the Catholic Scripture Study International Bible Conference, and you’ll get a chuckle out of them. That’s because most of them spend countless hours leading or participating in CSSI Bible studies in their home parishes year after year.
The three-day CSSI conference, held Aug. 5-7 at the Renaissance Hotel Suites in Charlotte, N.C., attracted men and women of all ages from more than 33 states – some traveling from as far away as Hawaii. They met to talk about Sacred Scripture, learn about issues like sin, temptation and exorcism, and become more well-versed in apologetics.
Several converts to the Catholic faith were among the participants and received an enthusiastic round of applause during the conference.
Jane Brock, a former Anglican priest from Tennessee who now lives in North Carolina and converted to Catholicism in 2008, was among those who were recognized. She credits her conversion to the patience of Monsignor John McSweeney, pastor of St. Matthew Church in south Charlotte, and to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church “on a dare.”
“It has been a wonderful journey. It’s wonderful to be home,” Brock said.
Three keynote speakers anchored the event, all experts in their respective fields of Sacred Scripture, apologetics and evangelization.
Jesuit Father Mitch Pacwa, the world-renowned biblical scholar who speaks 12 languages and appears regularly on the Eternal Word Global Catholic Network (EWTN) hosting both television and radio programs gave talks on “Sin in the Bible” and “The Penitential Psalms.” During both talks, Father Pacwa educated participants on the intricacies of language in the Bible and God’s will for our lives.
“God created us for the Truth,” said Father Pacwa. “We want truth from others and for ourselves… We desire Truth.”
Patrick Madrid, publisher of Envoy Magazine and director of Envoy Institute at Belmont Abbey College since 2007, has been working in the field of biblical apologetics for more than 24 years and spoke on how to provide answers to common questions posed to Catholics using Sacred Scripture.
“God gives us a great, powerful, necessary gift in Scripture,” Madrid said. “The Church and the Magisterium are whom God entrusted with His teachings. As Catholics we have something that is unique and different: Sacred Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium.”
Hector Molina, a bilingual lay Catholic evangelist who worked in pastoral ministry for more than 20 years, fired up the conference attendees with his engaging wit and infectious enthusiasm about the faith and his zeal for souls.
Molina spoke on “The Seven Habits of Highly Evangelistic Catholics,” drawing laughter and applause at his insightful approach to defending and practicing the faith.
“Our society is hostile to evangelization,” Molina said. “Our society conditions us that religion and politics cannot be talked about. We’re conditioned not to share our faith… We have a sacred obligation to share the precious gift we have received, namely Jesus Christ… Are we fishers of men or keepers of the aquarium?”
Gail Buckley, founder and president of CSSI and a convert to the Catholic faith, also spoke on the topic of “Typology in the Bible.” Typology is Buckley’s favorite way to study Scripture and focuses on the people, places, things and events in the Old Testament and how they foreshadow the New Testament.
She summed up her commitment to Scripture study, stating, “If you don’t really know Jesus, how can you commit to Him? The way to know Him is through His Holy Word. The whole of Scripture is what we need to study.”
Additional speakers included Dr. William Thierfelder, president of Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., who spoke on “The Perfection of the Present Moment,” encouraging conference attendees to live fully every moment of every day and to be thankful for every gift God has given them.
“God’s grace is raining down on us like Niagara Falls,” Thierfelder said. “We should be overwhelmed if we truly recognize what God has done in our lives.”
Father Patrick Winslow, pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Tryon, N.C., and a CSSI author and lecturer, also spoke, addressing the facts on the rite of exorcism and the Catholic Church. He explained the difference between private exorcism and the rite of exorcism, which only a Catholic priest can perform.
The Perpetual Hope Gospel Choir from Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church in Charlotte, N.C., performed a concert during the event that brought participants to their feet.
Bishop Peter J. Jugis, bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte, celebrated Sunday Mass for conference participants, reflecting on the Gospel of Matthew in which St. Peter asks Jesus to allow him to come to Him on the water but then panics and begins to sink before Jesus reaches out to help him.
“We are reminded by the proclamation of this Gospel today of the greatness of our faith in Jesus,” Bishop Jugis said, “and not to fear when confronted with seemingly impossible obstacles which are arranged on every side against us.”
To request copies of the CSSI Bible Study Conference talks go to www.cssprogram.net.
Printed with permission from the Catholic News Herald, newspaper for the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C.