CS&T Staff Writer

Franciscan Friar of the Renewal Father Benedict Groeschel will be speaking at the Catholics United for the Faith’s annual conference on Saturday, Sept. 20 at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.

Father Groeschel, one of the founding members of his order, and director of the Office for Spiritual Development of the Archdiocese of New York, will give three conferences on the theme: “Where Pope Benedict XVI is leading us with the Gospel and with St. Paul” in celebration of the Jubilee Year of St. Paul, which began in June.

The conference, now in its 17th year, will begin at 9 a.m. and endwith a 4 p.m. Mass celebrated by Bishop Daniel E. Thomas in the Seminary’s St. Martin’s Chapel. The Archdiocesan Boys Choir will provide the sacred music.

“Over the past number of years Father Groeschel has emerged as a renowned theologian and psychologist whose background, experience and life has served as a testament to his incredible competence,” said Father Augustine Esposito, O.S.A., president of Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School in Drexel Hill, and a committee member for the conference.

“We’re not just talking about an academic intelligence, but someone who has really put his fingers on the pulse of the lived response to the call of our Catholic faith,” Father Esposito said. “He has tremendous experience giving retreats to priests, religious and lay people and he is well respected by the hierarchy of the Church – so to have someone that [well-regarded] is a decided plus and a great advantage.”

The conference is sponsored by Catholics United for the Faith, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

The lay organization “tries to form people spiritually” and explain the teachings of the Church “so that they can become well-informed Catholics in full communion with the Church,” said President Anne Wilson. “Because we are living in a highly secularized society, the voice of the Church is becoming more and more important and needed.”

Cardinal Justin Rigali is on the Episcopal Advisory Committee of Catholics United for the Faith, which has also hosted several days of recollection, Bible studies and apologetics conferences in the Archdiocese.

“It is important for lay people to reach out and get involved in the Church, support the priests and bishops, and know their faith,” Wilson said.

The conference will explore why Pope Benedict XVI is asking the Church to look to St. Paul specifically as an example, during this year.

“St. Paul was a persecutor of Christians who became one of the greatest apostles for Christianity, so this whole idea of conversion and defending the faith is something that the Church, in this day and age, really needs,” Father Esposito said. “The Church has endured many hardships since Vatican II, and it is time for us to look to St. Paul who is looked upon as a great example.”

For more information or to register visit or call (215)247-2585

CS&T staff writer Nadia Maria Smith may be reached at or (215) 965-4614.