On February 26, a Vigil Mass celebrated by the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge closed the 9th annual Ignited by Truth Conference. This year’s two-day conference, held at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, attracted some 1,500 participants, according to Christine Sulzen, Coordinator for Ignited By Truth. “The attendee from farthest away this year came from North Dakota!” she said. “The conference was truly blessed with well-known speaker Matthew Kelly, successful fundraising allowing us to keep the ticket price low so that many would have the opportunity to attend, and new volunteers -- even one non-Catholic -- offering their skills and time for the Kingdom. We had new vendors and ministries, and inspiring stories of many people using the conference as a tool to evangelize the Faith.”
Presentations Friday night included “A Biblical Tour of the Mass” by Dr. Brant Pitre, Professor of Scripture at Notre Dame University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and “Questioning Life and Faith” by Jeremy Rivera, Director of Communications for FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), a ministry that sends teams of young, trained missionaries to over 50 college campuses across the U.S. in order to reach students with the Gospel.
On Saturday, the day began with prayer, as well as music by praise and worship recording artist Kim Kalman of Kitty Hawk. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed for adoration throughout the day. Saturday’s first speaker was Catholic author and evangelist Matthew Kelly, whose presentation was entitled “Is Catholicism Still Relevant?” Mr. Kelly has written 13 books, which have appeared on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller lists and been published in 25 languages. His titles include: The Rhythm of Life, The Seven Levels of Intimacy, The Dream Manager, Building Better Families, and Rediscovering Catholicism. His talk was laced with humor as he described the decline in Mass attendance and engagement among too many Catholics. “We need a game-changer,” he said, and he urged his listeners to challenge themselves and to use the Mass and the Sacraments to revitalize their practice and knowledge of their faith.
Saturday’s speakers included Dr. Reinhard Huetter, a Professor of Christian Theology at Duke Divinity School. A former Lutheran who converted to the Catholic Church in 2004, Dr. Huetter described his faith journey. Other presenters spoke on diverse topics, from Catholic Bioethics to the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist to our baptismal call to be evangelizers. A large number of young people attended the conference, which provided special breakout sessions for youth.
In his homily at the Vigil Mass, Bishop Burbidge said, “The Truth perfectly revealed in Jesus Christ has just been proclaimed to you in the inspired Word of God. And at the conclusion of this day, we are reminded that we are called to go forth and to bring the Truth to others not only in words but most especially through the holiness and integrity of our lives. We must do so in our homes, workplaces, campuses, schools and communities and to all those places God sends us each and every day.”