As the chill of autumn reminds us that the month of October is well underway, it is important to take a moment to reflect on the blessings and formation of this past month. The Knock Conference on Family & Catholic Education, which took place this past September, merits such reflection.
The conference was well-attended with faithful traveling to attend from counties all across the country. Some of the key speakers at the conference had traveled from as far as the United States and other parts of Europe. The conference commenced on Friday evening, the 13th of September, with a social and traditional Irish music. The social was followed by a Candlelight Rosary Procession to the Shrine grounds. The following day the conference opened with a word from Fr Robert Brucciani. Bishop Bernard Fellay then followed with an address that carried a note of urgency.
The bishop lovingly reminded the faithful to safeguard the family and to equip children with Catholic education despite the obstacles presented by the crisis of faith in both the Church and society. As we enter October, the Month of the Holy Rosary, it is wise to recall Bishop Fellay’s counsel to give Our Lady a place of primacy within our homes. The bishop spoke emphatically of the need to pray the Rosary daily as a family. He counseled that Catholics must implore Mary, the Mother of the Church, to protect and to aid us in battle as we seek to do the will of God in our homes and in our schools.
Sr Mary Bernard
Sr Mary Bernard OFM beautifully stressed the importance of Catholic education as the essence of tradition--the transmission of an authentically Catholic intellectual and spiritual formation to the next generation. The tenor of Sr. Bernard’s talk is best characterised by her deference to the thought of G.K. Chesterton. In the words of Chesterton, sister advised, “there is a Catholic way of doing everything”. Sister reminded us that in order for Catholic formation to take root, authentic faith and virtue must be practiced consistently and seamlessly in both the classroom and the home.
Fr le Roux
Fr le Roux addressed crucial themes pertaining to the natural order of creation--an order divinely ordained for the good of mankind. The rector of St Thomas Aquinas Seminary denoted fatherhood as the indelible point of reference for authority within the natural order and the context of the family. Fr. le Roux emphasised that it is the natural function of fatherhood to direct man towards the patriarchy of God the father.
Mrs Elissa Betz
Mrs Elissa Betz offered a refreshing reflection on the natural role of women in the family and society. She eloquently identified the role of women in the natural order as representatives of the love of God. Her treatment of the complementary attributes of men and women created in the image of God echoed Fr le Roux’s preceding discussion on the imperative role of fatherhood in the formation of faith and family.
Dr John Monaghan
Dr John Monaghan discussed the nature of the battle-front in public education. He delineated the nature of the pending RSE educational agenda in Ireland as an assault on the innocence of children. Dr. Monaghan provided constructive reflections on readings and educational alternatives such as homeschooling in response to the threat the RSE agenda presents to the formation of children. Attendees were encouraged to prayerfully consider how to respond to the anti-family and anti-God ethos prevalent in modern mainstream education.
Sunday Mass & Pilgrimage
At the conclusion of the Saturday talks, attendees enjoyed a fun evening of trivia and Irish music. It was an encouragement to observe the joyful camaraderie despite the gravity of the subject matter of the conference. The conference concluded with a Solemn High Mass at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel followed by a procession to the Knock Shrine. The Mass was a beautiful and most fitting end to a great conference. How profound to see Our Lord lifted up at the Consecration--to offer us nourishment for battle, to heal us and to give us hope for a better future (Jeremiah 29:11). During the homily, Bishop Fellay encouraged the faithful to accept the cross as Our Lord did and to strive to emulate Our Lady in giving our complete fiat to Christ at the foot of the cross. May the words of Saint Peter guide us going forth from the Knock Conference as we bear in mind our duty to defend the faith, family and education.
But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed (1 Peter 4:13).
Watch all the talks on YouTube here