Marian conference urges people to fight tough times with faith

Miscellany/Terry Cregar: Kathy Ratycz, music director at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Simpsonville, leads the choir during Mass at the Marian Eucharistic Conference.

GREENVILLE—The annual Marian Eucharistic Conference shared a lot more than just information on Mary during the two-day event.

Held at the Hilton Hotel on Nov. 9-10, speakers discussed a variety of topics for the more than 400 people in attendance, including faith, truth, love, conversion, the Mass, parenting and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“Defending faith and truth is our Catholic calling,” said Father Wade Menezes, who led the two-day conference. 

Father Menezes said the great heresies currently facing the Church are secular humanism and relativism, “which ultimately challenge God the Father … challenge authority. How can you truly love and care for the truth, while at the same time not following it?”

Quoting Pope Paul VI, Father Menezes said Catholics must be “witnesses to the world of truth and the truth that sets us free. They must live their Catholic faith. They must therefore be educated in the following of the truth, both in word and in action.”

“We are living in a very toxic culture,” he continued. “Know your truth; know your faith. Don’t let anybody rip it off from you.”

Another speaker was Father Donald Calloway, who shared his conversion story. He suffered a turbulent childhood and became a high school dropout and runaway teenager, then a drug addict with several stints in rehab, and finally reached conversion and ordination as a Marian priest at age 31.

It was during his first Mass that he heard a voice speak to him during the transubstantiation of the bread and wine. The voice said “worship” and “knowledge.”

“It wasn’t spoken to my ear. It was spoken to me,” Father Calloway said. “I knew immediately that came from God. I realized I was in God’s rehab. I went through what I call divine detox.”

Now, 16 years into the priesthood, Father Calloway told the conference everyone is facing tough times. 

“You have to keep praying, be faithful to your prayers,” he said. “Those rosaries mean something; those novenas mean something. Jesus isn’t abandoning us and neither is Our Lady.”

Father Chris Alar, director of the Association of Marian Helpers at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, provided a “step-by-step” tutorial on the Mass.

“There are thousands of Christian religions, but not one has the true, transubstantiation of the body and blood of Jesus Christ,” Father Alar said. “We are the only ones who have the gift of this truth.”

Conference organizers said participants traveled to the conference from a dozen states, some as far as Texas, though the majority were from the Diocese of Charleston. 

Micki Olle, a parishioner at Jesus Our Risen Savior in Spartanburg, said she was attending her fourth Marian conference. 

“I want to be more aware of what’s going on in my faith,” Olle said.

Michael Bodach, a parishioner at Stella Maris Church on Sullivan’s Island, has been to all seven conferences, and said it’s become more of a retreat for him.

“I get to step away from the day-to-day things; leave all of that behind and relax and listen to great speakers,” Bodach said.