Monday, October 08, 2007

Rochester Chesterton Conference 2

The October 6 Chesterton Conference in Rochester - Conversion of Heart - focused on converts. Those converts were St. Paul, St. Augustine, John Henry Cardinal Newman, Joseph Pearce, and, of course, Chesterton.

In his introductory remarks, Lou Horvath, Presdient of the Rochester NY Chesterton Society, noted that when he invited speakers for the conference, it dawned on him that he was inviting converts to talk about these converts.

This seemed appropriate, he observed, "In Chesterton circles ... there's converts all over the place."

He admitted that he had hopes that at least Father Derek Cross was a cradle Catholic like himself. No luck.

But the many people who gathered for the confernece were treated to the insights of a spectacular group of converts.

David Higbee, director of Rochester's Irenaeus Center, spoke on St. Paul.

Ronald Stansbury, a professor of history at Roberts Wesleyen College (in the Rochester suburb of Chili) talked about St. Augustine.

Father Cross, a priest of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri and a teacher at St. Philip's Seminary in Toronto, offered observations about Cardinal Newman.

Joseph Pearce, who has written on Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkein, C. S. Lewis, Hilare Belloc, and on so many more topics, had the fortune - or misfortune - of talking about his own path into the Church.

And finally, Dale Alquist, President of the American Chesterton Society, naturally provided some insight into Chesterton's conversion.

In addition to their own presentations, the dream team of converts also fielded questions from conference attendees.
In true Chestertonian fashion, none of the listed times in the program were strictly observed, and the conference, scheduled to end at 3, actually came to an end closer to 4:30 - with people lingering to chat. I suspect conversations went on well into the evening.
One of the joys in such gatherings is that they draw people together who have discovered a Catholic literary giant who faded into obscurity for a while, but who is enjoying a revival with enthusiasts readily spreading the word.
"Here you have a writer who just demands to be shared," Horvath observed.
(More to come)


Joe said...

Great pictures, Lee! I'm looking forward to "more to come"...

Anonymous said...

You mean there are still Catholics in the Diocese of Rochester?

Imagine that!

(I grew up in Batavia, just inside the Diocese of Buffalo - whew!)

A Secular Franciscan said...

Now, now Belloc - you obviously don't know the Chesterton group (how many other dioceses have one?), the Iraneus Center, St. John's (Catholic) Bookshop in Spencerport, the very active pro-life community, the Women's Care Center, the folks who support Catholic radio in the diocese, and more.

Rochester gets an unfair knock at times - especially by people who don't currently live here.

A Secular Franciscan said...

Joe - I wish more of the pictures had come out. And the ones of Alquist are all a little blurry.


Anonymous said...

"Mr Belloc" was probably roused to comment after looking at the chapel photographs.

chestertonian said...

"And the [pictures] of Alquist are all a little blurry."

Dale should knock off the sauce in the middle of the day.

coverage of this conference will be in the next issue of Gilbert mag.

Liz said...

This conference was well worth the 6 hour drive each way to be able to attend. I took two high schoolers as well as my twenty something dd along with me and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. I would have loved to linger afterwards to talk, but we didn't get home until midnight as it was (what with stopping for dinner and making one wrong turn along the route home...

This was my second trip to one of these conferences and I certainly hope it won't be my last. I must admit that I too was surprised to find such fine Catholics in the Diocese of Rochester. My only previous experience of that diocese was attending a Palm Sunday Mass in Henrietta on the way back from a visit to Duquesne University a couple years ago. We were treated to a female homilist and some other irregularities. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there are also good things going on in the diocese.

A Secular Franciscan said...

"Chapel photographs"?

A Secular Franciscan said...

Liz - the female preacher must have been a few years ago. They issued stricter guidelines about 2002 or so.

Anonymous said...

> "Chapel photographs"

Yes, was that not the "Coleman Chapel" of St. John Fisher College in your photographs? With the crucifix and stations of the cross?

Liz said...

lee strong,

Actually that female "preacher" was on Palm Sunday 2005. Apparently one parish either didn't get the word or else someone was being deliberately disobedient. Not only did she preach the homily, but she processed out side by side with the pastor at the end of Mass.

A Secular Franciscan said...

liz - you may be right - perhaps a rogue parish.

Or it could be that she was one of the few lay people approved to preach by the diocese under strict guidelines issued by the U.S. Bishops back in 2002 (guidelines which were approved by the Vatican). I don't know.

I do know most of the lay preachers whop had started preaching in the diocese suddenly stopped about the time the guidelines came out.

But as for processing next to the presider? As far as I know, that definitely crosses the line.

Liz said...

I'm not sure what guidelines the American bishops set for lay homilists, but it would seem as if a young, English speaking priest with no physical infirmity (which this one was) shouldn't need someone else to give the homily for him. The whole parish had a strange feel to it. The music was done by females, the altar servers were female, but there were very formally dressed males who served as ushers. The priest said the liturgy of the Eucharist as absolutely by the book as is possible. However, there was no kneeling. Then when we got outside we noticed that the sign for the church said, Catholic community of rather than Catholic Church. Oh, and rather than meeting in the church proper, the Mass was celebrated in the basement of the church. Altogether a very odd experience.

We came out realizing that we had less to complain about at home than we sometimes thought. However, it definitely colored our impressions of the diocese of Rochester. That is apparently as unfair as for sometime to wander into the Benedictine monastery not far from us and judge the diocese of Burlington by the novelties practiced there. It's simply disconcerting to find that in some places the Catholic Church doesn't behave like a Catholic Church.

Anonymous said...

You guys don't have any idea who David Higbee is, do you? If he's true to form, you all think he's a brilliant, intriguing man. I'm sure he is too, but he's also a pedophile.

Ask him about the Diakonian Society in Chicago. Ask him about the things he did to my family. If you think I'm making this up ask yourself why I would waste timing leaving a comment on this blog if it wasn't true.

A Secular Franciscan said...

anonymous - That's a pretty strong accusation. Do you have a link? I couldn't find a wewbsite or a link for the Diakonian Society on line - other than a reference to them as a nonprofit.

Is there a public record of these charges?

Anonymous said...
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