By Jeff Dixon
Catholics from across the Diocese of Beaumont gathered together for the Eighth Annual Diocesan Liturgical Conference at the MCM Elegante Aug. 4 and 5.
Attendees got a chance to learn more about a variety of topics from the workshops including the history of the liturgy, the roots of gospel music, planning a Catholic funeral and learning to pray in new and spiritual ways.
Vicar General Father Michael Jamail focused his workshop on silence and how people perceive themselves based on what is around them.
“There are many fonts to take your identity from. Do you take it from politics, or from your religion, or even from your geography? I’m an American, I’m southern, I’m liberal, I’m conservative. These are just power centers. The power center tells us who we are, and we say thank you, keep telling me who I am and I will keep doing what you want me to do,” Father Jamail said.
During the keynote address of the conference Missionary of St. Paul Father George Okeahialam spoke about being an example to others in how to participate in the liturgy.
“If we participate in the liturgy it should be an action that draws everything about us. The attention we give to the participation of the Mass actually teachers others how important it is to us and to everyone around us. We must put all of ourselves into the Mass,” Father Okeahialam said.
Veronica Rayas, director of religious formation for the Diocese of El Paso, spoke about rituals in the Catholic faith during her major address.
“When you walk into the church and you bow your head, that’s a sacred language. Catholics do the same thing in Mexico or in Europe. No matter where you are that sacred language is the same. This is who we are as Catholics. If God is present in who we are today then we are in a sacred space,” Rayas said.
The conference closed with an address by Roger Holland, music professor at the University of Denver and alumnus of Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he encouraged music ministers to get out of their comfort zones and use instruments more in tune with their parishioners.
“The Catholic Church is a global religion. Its membership has to be the most culturally and globally diverse, particularly here in the United States. Our music and worship should reflect that,” Holland said.