As the California-based Napa Institute enters its fourth year, its upcoming conference aims to continue engaging Catholics in response to a U.S. culture that is increasingly antagonistic to their faith. “We need to prepare Catholics to defend themselves and to be prepared for this more hostile environment which we live in,” Tim Busch, the institute’s chairman of the board, told CNA March 27. “We have to stand for our faith.” The Napa Institute hopes that the conference “invigorates” participants’ faith and “gives them hope,” he said. Busch described the conference as a “call to action” for Catholics to “reengage in their faith and get involved.” The institute and its conference aims to prepare Catholics for “the next America,” a reference to a 2010 phrase used by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput about the new secular culture of the U.S. The July 24-27 gathering this year will take place at the Meritage Resort and Spa in California’s Napa Valley. There will be opportunities for worship, prayer and sacraments, educational speeches, and fellowship and networking. Busch said Catholics need to “live their faith” and become associated with other like-minded people. He hopes that many attendees will encounter and take interest in Catholic sponsoring organizations like Legatus, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, the Denver-based Augustine Institute, Wyoming Catholic College, Ave Maria University, and Thomas Aquinas College. He said these organizations are “really changing the Church and re-evangelizing the Church.” Busch reflected on the cultural changes that have created “the Next America.” “At one time 50 years ago, many of us went to a church that was homogeneous. We grew up in a culture that was very friendly to Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. Today our culture and our society is hostile not just to Christianity and Catholicism, but to any form of organized religion,” he said. He added that there is a feeling that faith should be spoken of only in one’s home or one’s church and “shouldn’t be involved in any part of the public square.” The upcoming event will include dozens of educational seminars. A panel of bishops will discuss the new evangelization and Pope Francis. The panel will include Cardinal William Levada, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, and Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami. Curtis Martin, president of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, will deliver the event’s keynote address. Mass celebrants and speakers for the event include Cardinal James Harvey, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, and Cardinal Levada, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The conference will host daily Masses in various rites at the Meritage Resort’s Estate Cave, as well as Eucharistic adoration at Our Lady of Grapes Chapel. There will also be opportunities for confession. The gathering will feature a performance of the play “Faustina, Messenger of Divine Mercy” from St. Luke Productions. Musician Eric Genuis will perform during a Trinitas Cellars wine reception and dinner. Speeches at the Napa Institute will be published on the website and televised through the Eternal Word Television Network throughout the year. Speech topics include economic justice, faith and reason, and beauty and the arts. Busch, a businessman involved in the hotel industry and grocery stores, noted Pope Francis’ call to address economic justice. If business people don’t want the government to be involved in welfare systems and health insurance, he said, “then we need as corporate citizens, to take care for the less fortunate.” “We have to employ them. We have to get them health insurance. We have to support our churches and our non-profits to take care of the poor and needy,” he said. Busch added that the Church has been involved in art for centuries. “A lot of people find their faith through art,” he noted. The conference is targeted for both lay and ordained Catholic leaders who are “involved in the Church in some way,” Bush explained. He said people who are leaders in a school or university, a parish finance council or a religious movement can use the Napa Institute event to help grow and form their faith while meeting other Catholic leaders with similar interests. Registration fees for the 2014 event run at $1,700 per person. More information is available at the Napa Institute website is at http://napa-institute.org.
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