Wednesday, September 29, 2010

National Catholic Development Conference, Chicago

 The National Catholic Development Conference drew hundreds of Catholic fundraisers from all over the country to Chicago, Sept. 19-22. Apart from the unique opportunity it gave me to learn and network, I was able to attend for two practical reasons. Sr. Rose Pacatte, director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies, was the featured speaker the last day, so the NCDC board generously invited me to participate gratis; and a couple from San Antonio offered to cover my airfare, because they intuited how I could serve my community with what I gleaned. I stayed with our sisters who have a PBM Center and convent four blocks from the hotel downtown. It couldn’t have been more ideal.

I didn’t starve either, as you can see. I skipped the evening galas, though—the intense days started with 7:30 A.M. Mass, so I was beat. Monday, however, was different, because music maestro Riccardo Muti had just arrived from Italy to assume the podium of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and he was holding a free concert in Millennium Park, a few blocks from our sisters. What a treat, made extra special since my sister, Sr. Frances, another Daughter of St. Paul, is recently assigned to Chicago. Police estimates had the lot of us at 25,000.

I ended my stay with a trip to Old Town, where I did my eight dollar share to support the city economy. St. Michael’s Church had been gutted by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, but the outer walls still stood. So it was reconstructed and is staffed by the Redemptorists. By the way, a few years ago Mrs. O'Leary and her cow were officially exon-erated from responsibility for the blaze.    
     Besides serving as a rich learning experience, the conference led me into new, mutually beneficial relationships with other organizations, as we plan to work more closely with our sisters in Latin America and bring our own facilities into more stable condition. It opened my eyes to the challenges we all face in Catholic development, as well as to the potential for working together for the good of our world.

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