Grodi and Smith to headline Fire at the Beach Sept. 18-19

CHARLESTON — EWTN’s Marcus Grodi will lead an inspiring list of speakers to spark the faith at the Diocese of Charleston’s biennial Fire at the Beach conference set for Sept. 18-19 at St. Francis by the Sea Church in Hilton Head.
Grodi, a former Presbyterian minister who now has a show called “Journey Home” on EWTN, will speak on “The Verses I Never Saw” Sept. 18, according to a press release.
Grodi will share how his conversion came from a realization of the strong biblical basis of Catholicism, the importance of the Eucharist, and the need for authoritative sources who can speak about the authentic Christian tradition.
On Sept. 19, he will reflect on a topic that continues to challenge parents and grandparents, “Keeping Kids Catholic.”
Janet Smith, Ph.D., a professor, philosopher, theologian, and consultant to the Pontifical Council on the Family, will offer the Sept. 19 keynote.
Smith is internationally known as a defender and interpreter of church teachings on human dignity and human sexuality, especially as they have been expressed by Pope Paul VI in “Humanae Vitae,” the encyclical “On Human Life,” and by Pope John Paul II in “Evangelium Vitae,” the encyclical “The Gospel of Life.”
Smith’s keynote is entitled “Self-Giving Love: The Eucharist and the Theology of the Body.”  The same day she will offer a small group session on “A Culture of Life vs. a Culture of Death.”
In addition to the keynote speakers, a range of topics will be covered in three rounds of small group sessions on Sept. 19. Speakersfrom near and far will cover a variety of theological, catechetical, and practical topics.
Sister Susan Pontz, Ed.D., of the Sisters of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, is director of Information Technology at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio. She will present “The Church in Cyberspace.”
Sister Susan, who has served as a teacher, catechist, and instructional technologist in academic and parish settings, will provide useful tips on the effective use of technology for Christian education and personal prayer. She will also offer cautions about sites which call themselves Catholic and on children’s use of the internet.
Dan Mulhall, a well-known educator and resource person working with RCL Benziger, will present “Catechumenate, Catechesis, and the Whole Community.” He will look at the RCIA process and how parishes can implement the expectations of the Catholic bishops of the United States. Mulhall will focus on how people come into the church and how their faith is nurtured by the responsiveness of parishioners, catechists and clergy.
Margaret Nutting Ralph, Ph.D., an author of Biblical studies, professor of Roman Catholic studies at Lexington Theological Seminary and director of faith formation for the Diocese of Lexington, will offer two workshops: “And God Said What? The Catholic Approach to Scripture” and “Cath-olics and the Eucharist: The Scriptural Basis for Our Beliefs.”
Ralph will offer a strong biblical defense of the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence and provide insights into our understanding of transubstantiation.
Jane and Michael Myers, a couple long active in faith formation, parish ministry, licensed counseling and psychotherapy, and work in pre-Cana and retreat programs, will bring their expertise to two presentations.
The first will be “Small Christian Communities: Nourishing the Body of Christ,” which focuses on a community model noted by the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Education as an effective way of helping  incorporate new adult members into the life of the church and to assist long-term members to grow in their faith.
Their second workshop will focus on the basis of “the domestic Church”  in a workshop entitled “Couples Called, Nourished, and Sent: The True Potential of Sacramental Marriages in Eucharistic Communities.”
Holy Cross Brother Carlos Parrilla will also bring his expertise to Fire at the Beach as a presenter. He is a member of the planning committee and the Diocesan Board of Catechetical Advisors. He will offer: “Welcoming the Stranger Among Us,” dealing with migration, immigration, and the Catholic response; and “Vocations and the Family,” a workshop which considers the home-base of all Christian vocations.
Brother Carlos, who has a background in teaching and parish ministry, serves the diocese as associate director of Young Adult and Hispanic Youth Ministry.
Sister Pamela Smith, of the Sisters of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, is director of Catechesis and Christian Initiation for the diocese and planning coordinator for Fire at the Beach. She  will offer a reflective lesson on “Eucharist, Care, and the Problem of Pain.”  This session will consider how being a member of the Body of Christ immerses Catholics in the paschal mystery and addresses their response to human suffering. She will provide angles on the topic from the teachings of St. Alphonsus Liguori, from her experience as a Type 1 diabetic and as the person who had power of attorney for a number of dying members of her religious community.
Also, a special session on “Best Practices for Sharing the Faith” will be assembled by catechetical leaders from the diocese in response to the interests of attending catechists.
For more information call (843) 402-9115, ext. 18, or visit