"We long to sail on the sea of life and yet we are afraid of leaving our safe harbor," the event's introduction reads. "What is the final word on man's desire? Is there an attraction capable of overcoming our fears and drawing us out to the open waters that our hearts yearn for?"
The Encounter, an event that has grown and evolved over the past seven years, is set to take place next week at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City, Jan. 15-17. The entire event is free and open to the public, and requires no registration.
The event will include speakers and performances from people of various fields and walks of life – artists, medical professionals, priests, architects, astronauts and businessmen. It will also feature exhibits on persecuted Iraqi and Syrian Christians, the life of newly-canonized St. Junipero Serra, outer space, and international development.
"What we try to do is to find people who have been facing this challenge between fear and desire, taking their risks, trying to build something, trying to give this desire more room than their fear," said Maurizio Maniscalco, the event's president.
Of the speakers, Maniscalo said is most excited to hear from Archbishop Amel Nona, an exiled Chaldean Catholic bishop of Mosul, Iraq, and Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, a priest from the Holy Land.
The idea of an "encounter" of faith is also central to the event, and is something that Pope Francis has often spoken about during his papacy – the need for people to experience a real and living faith in their everyday lives. Pope Benedict XVI also said that "the intelligence of faith has to become the intelligence of reality."