From Sept. 29 - Oct. 1 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas, Catholic faithful from the diocese and the surrounding area will come together at the 10th annual Dallas Ministry Conference, sponsored by the Diocese of Dallas and the University of Dallas, to learn, pray and “Walk Together in Faith.”
Over the three-day period, 128 speakers will share their wisdom and stories. These 128 include 22 members of religious life, 14 priests and 16 past or present University of Dallas professors — an impressive array who together boast over 750 combined years in ministry, but among them are also reporters, CEOs, founders, artists, architects and authors. Here are 11 changemakers (some might even say visionaries) you’ll have the opportunity to gain insight from and possibly even meet this week at the DMC:
- Many of our speakers have been working actively on the world stage to promote peace and security. In 2012, the Most Rev. Luis R. Zarama was asked to be part of The Santa Marta Group, the task force against human trafficking established by Pope Francis that gathers bishops and security leaders from around the world at its annual meetings. He currently serves as a member of the migration committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
- Meanwhile, David M. O'Brien, M.Div., a specialist in Catholic peacebuilding, worked this past year in Northern Uganda with child soldiers through the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.
- Then there are the artists. William Brocious’ work has ranged from the restoration and renovation of historic cathedral basilicas to the replacement of a small country parish church lost in a fire.
- For the past three years, Catholic performing artist Michael James Mette has toured the country with his wife, Michelle, and their six children, blending music that is “passionate like a Friday night and reverent like a Sunday morning” with technology and testimony to share their ministry across 44 states.
- Shelley Kolman Smith has been a self-taught professional artist for over 27 years, first as a portrait painter and then as a sculptor; her work can be found in churches throughout the U.S.
- What about the authors, you ask? Matthew Pinto is the founder and president of Ascension Press and the author or co-author of a variety of best-selling works, including Did Adam and Eve Have Belly Buttons?, Did Jesus Have a Last Name?, and A Guide to the Passion, a New York Times bestseller.
- John Allen, of course, serves as the editor of Crux, an independent Catholic news site, and is also the senior Vatican analyst for CNN.
- Meanwhile, Marlon de la Torre is the author of Screwtape Teaches the Faith (Tan/Saint Benedict Press 2011) and Man Up: Becoming the New Catholic Renaissance Man (Bezalel Books 2014).
- As for our community leaders, Shannon Deitz is the founder of Hopeful Hearts Ministry, an advocacy nonprofit organization giving a voice to survivors of abuse and the spokesperson for the Maria Goretti Network, a Catholic peer-to-peer support group for survivors of abuse.
- Janice Benton, executive director of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD), guides initiatives that promote participation of persons with disabilities in the Catholic Church.
- Pamela Bernards, Ed.D., is the director of professional development for the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) and welcomes the challenge of working with and supporting teachers and principals in their vocation as Catholic school educators.
These 11 are just a sampling of the DMC’s talented and dedicated speakers, all men and women who work daily to enact virtue and spread the gospel throughout their communities, their countries and often the world.
Whatever your area of interest in ministry, according to Emilia Leon, manager of advertising and promotions for the Dallas Ministry Conference, you’ll find a session pertaining to it at the DMC.
"This conference is open to everyone — whether you’re a working professional in ministry or a layperson, there’s something that will surely interest you,” she said. “It’s the 10th anniversary of the DMC. We’re excited to host the event and welcome newcomers as well as returning attendees.”
Register and get tickets for the DMC today.
In the photo: Top: Allen, Benton, Bernards, Brocious, Deitz
Bottom: Delatore, Mette, O'Brien, Pinto, Smith, Zarama