Steubenville conference calls young adults to love and evangelize


"We speak of hearts being broken, of being torn. The depth of your heart is complete intimacy. God gives us the depth of his heart (by) allowing it to be hurt. That is the depth of his love,” said Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, at the opening Mass of the Young Adults Conference, held at Franciscan University of Steubenville, May 31-June 1. "He has chosen you to be here and shows his heart so that you can see it. You can view and know his heart."

According to a press release from the university, the conference drew hundred of young adults from all over the U.S., and also from Canada and England.  The participants attended with the hope of receiving “spiritual renewal and strength as they work and live in a culture they often find themselves at odds with.”

The theme of this conference, “C4 and the New Evangelization" focused on the importance of a transformation of one’s life to Christ.  C4 refers to the “four C’s” needed to transform one's life in Christ: Conversion, Catechesis, Community, and Commissioning.  The young adults were also challenged to “open themselves to receive God's love into their hearts throughout the weekend and make a personal commitment of love.” 

The conference was a necessary spiritual refresher for many of its attendees.  Andrew Craven, a high-school teacher in Newark, New Jersey, said, "It’s good to come and recharge my faith. I need this; it helps me in all different aspects of my life."

One speaker, after giving his conversion story, exhorted his audience to allow Christ to “shine through their actions.” 

"You don’t do apologetics," said Cuddy. "You are apologetics. As young adults, you need to ask, how can Christ’s love transform my heart? If you do that, if Jesus is in you, every person will encounter Christ when they encounter you."

The following day, the conference continued with workshops focusing on topics of interest such as:  Rooted in Christ—Prayer That Transforms, No New Evangelization without First Love, Why Holiness Isn't Easy (And What to Do About It), and Finding Your Evangelistic Voice.

In one workshop, No New Evangelization without First Love, Father Stan Fortuna, CFR, urged participants to “keep the fire of Christ burning and never run the risk of becoming lukewarm in their faith.”

He continued by describing the life of St. Francis Assisi, using him as an example of someone containing the fire of Christ.  "The fire of love that is first found in the heart of St. Francis can be found in the hearts, feet, and side of Christ," he said. "Follow St. Francis and his passion to dive deeper into love."

One attendee from England enjoyed the unforgettable experience, “This has been a dream of mine for years. During this conference, I was able to grow in my faith and realize that God has always been leading me."

The conference concluded with Mass on Sunday, where Father Dave Pivonka encouraged the young adults to say “yes” to the gentle call of God.

"When we say yes to the will of the Father, we are able to live our lives in fullness," he said. He further explained that they must take what they have learned at the conference and share it with their loved ones.

Franciscan University will also offer 10 other conferences on its campus this summer, and 16 others around the United States and Canada - including the St. John Bosco Conference (July 16-20) for Catholic educators and the Defending the Faith Conference, (July 25-27) which focuses on Catholic apologetics. 

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