CEC 2020 allows opportunity to collaborate in your slippers

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CEC 2020 allows opportunity to collaborate in your slippers


Teachers and catechists, like everyone else in the Church, have been forced to practice social distancing for some time now. “Learning new systems and processes, trying to understand virtual teaching and trying to smile through our masks is making us weary,” said Jackie Hopper, director for the Diocese’s Office of Religious Education and Catechetical Leadership. 

These trying times make it all the more important that religious educators participate in the upcoming Catholic Educators Conference (CEC) on Oct. 2-3.

“This is a good time to stop and remember the reasons we are in ministry,” Hopper said. “Whether we are teaching at a Catholic school, leading a youth group, or teaching a group of second-graders about Reconciliation, we know this year will be difficult. It will be different. Because we are starting tired and stressed, we really must take time to take care of ourselves. We can do this through a common focus on our mission as catechetical leaders, particularly at CEC.”

The COVID-19 pandemic presents educators with a greater appreciation for collaboration and the many ways it can happen, she said. Even though collaboration will not happen with an in-person conference, "that doesn't mean we don't still need each other," she said, quoting, Proverbs 27:17, which says, "Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another."

"I love this scripture because it illustrates to me our true purpose, which is to be there for one another," Hopper said.

The theme of this year’s conference is, “For the Greater Glory of God.” Speakers include Becky Eldredge, who will lead the English-speaking retreat on Friday, and Father Julio Vicente, who will lead the Spanish-speaking retreat day on Saturday. Workshops for English speaking educators will be on Saturday and, for Spanish-speaking educators on Friday. 

Based in Baton Rouge, La., Eldredge is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director and retreat facilitator who invites people deeper in their walk with Christ. Passionate about Ignatian spirituality and teaching people how to pray and discern, she leans on her 20 years of ministry experience to help people make room for God in their daily lives. She is the author of, “Busy Lives & Restless Souls,” and “The Inner Chapel.” She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Louisiana State University, a master’s degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University in New Orleans, and a certificate in spiritual direction from Spring Hill College. She offers reflections and prayer resources on her website, beckyeldredge.com. 

Father Vicente is pastor at St. Edward’s Parish in Twin Falls. He entered Mount Angel Seminary in 1999, using some of his time to attend Boise State University to study English. He graduated from Mt. Angel in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. In 2003, he began studies at the Pontifical North American College and the Gregorian University in Rome to study philosophy. He was ordained a priest on June 5, 2008 at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral by Bishop Michael P. Driscoll. Since his ordination, he has served in Mountain Home, Lewiston, and Burley. He has been pastor at St. Edward’s since 2018.

“The Catholic Educators Conference has always given us a reason to gather, to come together as one so that we can collaborate, network, learn and grow,” Hopper said. Naturally, people wonder whether that can happen during a pandemic. “Are we able to share practices when we can’t share a hug or a meal together? I believe the answer is yes!” Hopper said. She said her planning team is working hard to put in place “an amazing platform that will allow us gather together virtually.”  

Hopper said the conference will provide plenty of opportunity to network and to collaborate about new ideas and practices. “We have designed breakouts both Friday and Saturday for ministry and topic-specific breakouts. These smaller gatherings will allow us in real time to get to know each other and discuss what we have learned and experienced during the retreat and the workshops.”

Last year was the first year the conference used the “Ed Camp” methodology. “We gathered topics from all the participants and organized breakouts based on that input,” Hopper said. In the breakout rooms, ideas were exchanged, prayers offered and friendships formed,” she said. “We will have the same thing this year, but this year you get to wear your slippers to the gathering,” she said. Hopper said she was skeptical about whether virtual breakout sessions like this would work until she attended a virtual conference earlier this year and saw how well it worked. 

It is in community that the conference’s theme “For the Greater Glory of God” is fully lived, beginning first with the community within families, Hopper said. “To sustain this glory and to truly understand the fullness of God’s plan and love for us, we must journey together,” Hopper said. “Come and rest at this year’s CEC.  Practice the art of self-care by attending to the relationships God has called you to in your ministry by networking and collaborating, all for the glory of God!”

To register go to Eventbrite.com and search for CEC Boise. 







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