By Beth Lenegan
Conference Task Force Chair
“I paused on the journey and looked back at where I had come from. I saw the spots where I had stumbled and gotten up again. And I was able to see just how far I had come and what an incredible traveler I had become.”
— Author unknown
In April, Catholic chaplains and chaplains of other faith traditions from across the nation, Canada and beyond will travel to New Mexico to be energized, supported, challenged, and transformed personally and professionally. The conference theme, “Hearts on Fire, Our Own Emmaus Journey,” will offer an opportunity for each person to reflect on his or her own journey as a follower of Christ.
Our time together in New Mexico will be about our individual and communal journeys and reflecting upon the companions we encounter along the way. Those companions will include men and women in sacred scripture as well as contemporary figures who have laid the foundation for our Catholic Christian faith.
On the road we travel, we are continually developing our own story while we engage in the stories of those we minister to, as well as a global story. These stories are filled with challenges, struggles, brokenness, and strife, as well as joy, grace, peace, and reconciliation. As we encounter the roads of life, how do we — as individuals, as a church and as an organization — continue the living tradition through these sacred stories?
Our road and our ministry are not done in isolation. As we continue toward our own Emmaus, we are constantly reminded that God is always present — ahead of us and beside us. This God is one of faithfulness who calls us to continue the work of his saving action.
As we discover the meaning of our own Emmaus, we are transformed every step of the way. With the presence of God and burning hearts, we grow personally, professionally, and as followers of Christ. We continue the mission of a Church with a living tradition and sacred stories, always in the presence of a living God.
I am proud and humbled to serve as this year’s conference chair. As we are well aware, this conference cannot be planned by one person. I would like to thank the task force members: Tom Chirdo (plenary chair); Alex Chamtcheu-Tchamtcheu (workshop chair); Fr. Rich Bartoszek (liturgy chair); Eve Kelly Corcoran and Mary Catherine Casey (local arrangement co-chairs) and Michael Saxton (board liaison). Also, this conference would not be possible without the incredible support in the national office from David Lichter, Jeanine Annunziato, and Andris Kursietis.
I invite each of you to journey with us to the beautiful and culturally rich state of New Mexico to look at our rich tradition, share stories as fellow companions, re-discover the God before us and with us, and continue the journey with burning hearts.
Beth Lenegan, BCC, is director of pastoral care at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY.