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Heeding the "Call to Holiness".

"A little bit of Heaven dropped from out the sky one day". These words from the Irish song come to mind when one describes the mood for not one but three days at the most recent "Call to Holiness" Conference. It took place at the Best Western Sterling Inn in Sterling Heights, Michigan, just outside of Detroit, November 20-22, 1998. There were over 2000 in attendance for this third annual meeting. A special feature this year was a separate conference for youth.

Permeating the whole conference were devotion and peace and joy. Around the clock, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was provided in Corpus Christi and St. John Vianney chapels set up in the hotel. There were also around the clock confessions. Many priests' rooms were turned into temporary confessionals and there were line-ups wherever the sign "Confessions" was hung on their doors. Surely many special graces were granted those days at Sterling Heights.

As in the two prior years, the "Call to Holiness" conference was blessed with outstanding Catholic speakers. The theme was "Pilgrimage 2000, Walking with the Holy Spirit", and for the keynote address and homily at the Saturday Mass we were privileged to have Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska. He is one of our finest bishop-theologians, and author of A Shepherd Speaks, published by Ignatius Press. Master of ceremonies was Jeff Cavins of EWTN. There was a welcome from Bishop Kevin Britt, auxilliary Bishop of Detroit. Speakers included Father Benedict Groeschel, Helen Hull Hitchcock, Father Joseph Fessio, Dr. Deal Hudson, Dr. Janet Smith, Fr. Paul Marx, Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, and Fr. John Hardon. There was a video message from Mother Angelica. Videos of all these outstanding talks are available from Pierpont Productions Inc., 9387 Trails End, Petoskey, MI, 49770, ph: 1-616-347-4488.

A bonus of these conferences is the graciousness of the speakers in granting interviews both in the press room and privately. I had the privilege of helpful talks with Bishop Bruskewitz, Fr. Paul Marx and Fr. John Hardon.

In a number of talks concern was expressed over the widespread rejection of Humanae vitae. Fr. Paul Marx and Dr. Janet Smith made it clear that there can be no holiness, no Catholic society, without fidelity to God's law of life and love. In a private conversation, Fr. John Hardon expressed the view that, since the Protestant revolt, the greatest crisis in the history the Church has been precipitated by the widespread rejection, by dissent and conduct, of the encyclical Humanae vitae.

One incident illustrates the spirit of openness to God's grace which animates those who answer the "Call to Holiness". When I went alone on Friday evening to the hotel restaurant a young lady with a baby in her arms invited me to her table and introduced me to her sister and brother-in-law. The lady explained that they were from Milwaukee and that her husband was at home looking after their other three small children. Her sister and husband, recently married, asked me for a blessing and a prayer that they might have a large family, even ten children if that were God's Will. They expressed their joy at being in the presence of so many orthodox Catholics hungry for grace and Catholic teaching.

The spiritual director of the "Call to Holiness" conference is Fr. Eduard Perrone, Pastor, Sacred Musician, and Choir Director of Assumption Grotto Church in Detroit. Under his aegis the liturgy was a spiritual delight. Besides the daily high Mass in the convention hall, there were daily prayers and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. On Sunday afternoon a high Mass in Latin was also celebrated at Assumption Grotto.

Vatican II says, "Steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them" (Constitution on the Liturgy, no. 54). "The treasury of sacred music is to be preserved and cultivated with great care" (no. 114). Gregorian Chant "should be given pride of place" in liturgical services" (no. 116). So, at the conference one heard the congregation sing parts of the Mass such as the Kyrie, Sanctus, Pater Noster, Great Amen, Agnus Dei, and the beautiful Gloria and Credo from the "Missa de Angelis". The Mass of Vatican II booklets in Latin-English donated by Ignatius Press were distributed. Holy Communion was received on the tongue and some exercised their option to kneel while receiving. One will never see liturgical abuses at the "Call to Holiness" conference.

The "Call to Holiness" convention will inevitably bear spiritual fruit. It was at last year's conference that a US Catholic radio network was spontaneously conceived by Fr. Fessio and encouraged by Mother Angelica. Now, after much. prayer and effort, we have the Catholic Radio Network (C.R.N.) in the U.S. with 7 radio stations in major markets that will reach over 50 million people.

The "Call to Holiness" has been heard in Canada. The conference was attended by a busload of Catholics from Sarnia. From Toronto came a caravan of cars with seven Toronto area priests. There were Canadians from Windsor, London, Hamilton and other places among the pilgrims.

There is better news yet. The "Call to Holiness" movement, now spread to a number of U.S. larger centres, has crossed over into Canada. On November 30, 1998, the first "Call to Holiness Canada" board meeting was held at the parish hall of St. Anthony of Padua parish in Hamilton. Directors of the Canada expansion are Mrs. Yvonne Kowalchuk of Kitchener and Mrs. Sandy McCarthy-Roberts of Guelph. Spiritual Advisors are Fr. Paul McDonald, Fr. Ted Colleton, and Fr. Stephen Somerville. A conference is planned for Toronto this year with the theme "Family, Faith and Hope in a new Millennium". Many blessings will flow from this conference--growth in grace, fidelity to the Church, and perhaps even a Canadian Catholic radio network.
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Title Annotation:conference in Sterling Heights, Michigan
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:00WOR
Date:Jan 1, 1999
Previous Article:Forecasting Catholic Education.
Next Article:"Bright Seraphs, Cherubim and Thrones.".

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