On March 19 and 20, the 8th annual Ignited by Truth Conference was held at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. This year’s conference attracted some 1,500 participants, according to Christine Sulzen, Coordinator for Ignited By Truth. “It’s been blessed, totally blessed,” she said.
Presentations Friday night were devoted to those considering joining the Catholic Church. The theme was “Discover the Catholic Church.” John Martignoni and Fr. Dwight Longenecker gave talks on “One Church” and “More Christianity,” respectively. Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak offered a breakout session for college students.
On Saturday, the day began with prayer for vocations, appropriate for the current Year for Priests. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed for adoration throughout the day. “One thing I will hold on to is when I walked in to Adoration,” says Patricia Taussig of St. Ann in Fayetteville, “I saw all the teenagers so giving of themselves to God.” Participants were urged to pray for vocations in the Diocese and for the men and women who give their lives to the Lord in service of the Church. In addition to Adoration, several priests were available throughout the day offering the Sacrament of Penance.
Saturday’s presenters spoke to Ignited by Truth’s Mission Statement: Bringing to light the truth of the teachings of the Catholic Church and igniting in our hearts a love for our faith.
Fr. Deacon Daniel G. Dozier, of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in Raleigh and St. Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in Southern Pines, spoke about Christian Iconography. “Deacon Dozier was incredible because I learned so much about Christian art,” says Susie Farrell of All Saints Academy in Raleigh. “I always knew the icons were more than just art, and I wanted to understand the deeper meanings.” Farrell says, “He spoke of icons being ‘the Gospel in color’ and that was moving.”
The keynote speaker, Patrick McCaskey, spoke about his experiences as a Catholic owner of the NFL’s Chicago Bears and as the grandson of the Bears' founder, George Halas. He described his grandfather as a man of faith and virtue who wanted the men on the team to be virtuous and upright. “I've had the good fortune to be associated with the Bears all my life,” McCaskey says, “and I have made it because Christ died for me. I believe we should be ready to die for Him every day.” McCaskey shared several poems, prayers and even sang a humorous song, “Hail to Bishop Burbidge.”
The day concluded with the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge celebrating Vigil Mass. The choir was led by Jeff Price and the St. Luke the Evangelist of Raleigh Music Ministry.
After Mass, the Bishop received participants seeking blessings. Suzanne Wilson of St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church in Raleigh said, “It’s a great program, and I love that we have this conference right here in Raleigh. We have the opportunity to listen to speakers from around the country whom we otherwise would not have the opportunity to hear.”