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Church as ‘light of nations’

  • November 10, 2023

In the first of what organizers hope will be an annual event, the St. Monica Institute will host a Nov. 11 conference that will explore the theme of the Church as “a light for nations.”

Matthew Marquart, executive director of the Institute, says “it is the natural tendency of the world to turn to the Church and the Pope for moral guidance.”

“When we are on message,” Marquart said, “it makes sense to people.”

The conference keynote will be delivered by David Mulroney, former Canadian Ambassador to China, president of University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto from 2015 to 2018 and Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs.

Dr. Connie Price, co-director of the Office of Formation for Discipleship for the Archdiocese of Toronto, and Peter Stockland, publisher/editor of The Catholic Register, will also headline the event.

With 26 presenters representing a broad range of organizations and areas of cultural engagement, the conference program covers the gamut, from AI to urban planning.

Founded by Cardinal Thomas Collins, the St. Monica Institute was launched last year. Focusing on what Marquart calls the “four quadrants of Catholic life” — family, parish, education and the public square — the Institute seeks to “provide resources for any Catholic who wants to go deeper in the faith, prepare themselves and then engage in joyful witness.”

Marquart says the take-away message from the 2022 launch event was that there were “all these Catholic organizations that were hungry to just get together, talk to one another and figure out what each other are doing.”

Acknowledging that there is neither the need nor the resources to “create everything,” Marquart says the Institute would like to build a “one-stop shop, so that people can figure out where the gaps are and help them coordinate with one another.”

The enduring theme of the annual conference is “building a culture of life and dignity” and draws on over 50 years of papal teaching on the role of the laity in “the true moral mission” of engagement with the world.

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