SAN DIEGO — The diocese is hosting a major conference in the Imperial Valley on April 22, featuring more than 20 speakers, including a renowned national presenter.
The conference, which has as a theme “United in Christ, Unidos en Cristo,” will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Vincent Memorial Catholic High School in Calexico.
The event will offer a youth track, two sessions with multiple workshops, and a liturgy to open the event. Each session will offer workshops in English and Spanish on various topics and areas of ministry, spirituality and parish life. The workshops will be conducted by veteran leaders, including several office directors from the diocese’s Pastoral Center. Many vendors and ministry groups will be exhibiting, allowing conference-goers the opportunity to peruse resources.
The conference is a collaboration among all diocesan pastoral offices, Stewardship and the Schools Office. All of their respective communities are invited to attend.
“This conference returns after a long-awaited break from the COVID pandemic. With renewed enthusiasm, we are collaborating to bring the community of faithful together as we reflect on the Eucharist and how we are all united in Christ,” said Marioly Galván, the diocese’s chancellor and director of the pastoral offices.
The keynote speaker will be Brother Moisés Gutiérrez, OFM, PhD, a renowned presenter whose theme is “Called to Fan the Flame of Hope.”
A special track will offer workshops geared to youth while their parents can attend the general sessions. All are welcome to attend, even those who are not active in ministry.
The diocese launched the inaugural Valley conference in November of 2018 and planned to offer it every two years. However, the pandemic intervened. Planning for the second conference began last fall with the catechetical leaders from the Valley, including Sister Lupita Hernández, the principal at Vincent Memorial Catholic High School.
Father Ed Horning is a long-time pastor in the region. Currently, he serves as associate pastor of Our Lady of the Valley Parish in El Centro. He said the pandemic hit the area hard.
“We had a high number of infections and deaths. We experienced the shutdown and financial struggles in parishes,” he said. “Now, we are trying to bounce back as a Catholic community.”
He said there is a great need in the Valley for growth in ministries such as stewardship, evangelization, youth, restorative justice, mental/emotional health and bereavement.
“Potentially, it could be very important for the faithful to gather, to be inspired, energized, renewed and empowered for mission,” he said. “My hope is that the conference can serve as a catalyst for putting the Church on a trajectory of new and robust ministries.”
Father Tony Morales is the pastor of St. Patrick Church in Calipatria and St. Thomas Indian Mission, which serves Winterhaven and Yuma, and the dean of the Valley pastors.
San Diego County and Imperial County are two separate areas, but their faithful are part of one diocese. That sense is not always recognized by Catholics on either side of the divide, said Father Morales.
He said the conference reinforces the idea for Valley Catholics that they are part of the diocese — and that the encounter can bear fruit for the faithful on both sides of the mountains.
Registration for the Imperial Valley Conference is required. The cost is $35, which includes lunch; $25 per person for groups of four or more. Register at sdcatholic.org/ivcc.