By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T

UPPER GWYNEDD – The question was interesting if hypothetical. If our first parents and humankind in general had not succumbed to sin through disobedience to God, would Christ our Lord and Savior still have come into the world?

Father Bernard O’Connor, president of DeSales University in Allentown, believes, as did St. Francis de Sales for whom his congregation the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales is named, Christ still would have come to the world.

“Salvation is often linked exclusively with getting rid of sin,” he said. “A lot of the world’s theologians said it doesn’t mean that Jesus doesn’t have a job if people hadn’t sinned.” {{more}}

Jesus, he suggested, would have come into the world even if it was sinless to invite the people into the fullness of heaven. As an example, the Virgin Mary, who was born without sin, had no need of redemption.

The question to Father O’Connor came at the end of his keynote address at a Sept. 11 conference at Corpus Christi Parish, Upper Gwynedd, “The Body of Christ; Catholic Leadership in the Modern World.”

The thrust of his lecture was that those who wish for a post-Christian society while retaining Christian values have an impossible task because these values cannot exist without Christianity.

The conference, the third since its inception, attracted about 160 participants with perhaps 60 percent of them from the parish itself and the rest mostly from other Montgomery County parishes, according to Msgr. Thomas Flanigan, pastor of the 4,000-family Corpus Christi.

In addition to Father O’Connor’s keynote there were four workshops.

Msgr. Michael Magee, chair of the Department of Systematic Theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, spoke on “How to Lead Like Christ.”

“If He is in fact as we believe, as we know Him to be – the perfect union of the spanine and the human, we have in Him the perfect model of leadership, that perfect model of unity with God,” Msgr. Magee said.

Kathleen McCarthy, a mother of 12 whose inspirational radio program is broadcast on WTMR-800 AM, spoke on “Allowing the Holy Spirit to Move in Your Life.”

She retold the Gospel account of the woman at the well meeting Christ. “She was empowered by the living water and had no more doubts,” she said. “He gave her the gift of hope and she went out and told everybody that she met.”

Jim Glasgow of Villanova University’s School of Business spoke on “Building Community Two at a Time.” His thrust was if you are to get your message across, you must first understand your audience.

“Pay attention to what they want and why,” he said, suggesting through this you will be able to present your message most effectively.

Anne Ayella of archdiocesan Nutritional Development Services and diocesan director for Catholic Relief Services spoke on “Service: A Life Changing Experience.” She told of those experiences in her own life beginning as a very small child living near the Overbrook School for the Blind when she and her friends would go there on Sunday to walk the blind children to church.

In addition to the speakers, a mini parish fair was set up to explain some of the varied ministries offered by Corpus Christi.

Addressing those people who came from other parishes for the conference, Msgr. Flanigan said, “We don’t purport to be par excellence in this, we are just trying to share with you what we have and hopefully learn from you who are not part of our community. What do you do, how do you bring the Word to the people? Every parish has wonderful ideas and it is important that people become active in the parish community.”

Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.