VOTF 20th Year Commemoration: 20 Years Keeping the Faith, Changing the Church

Voice of the Faithful’s 20th Year Commemoration event

Twenty years! Voice of the Faithful’s 20th Year Commemoration took place on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at the Boston Marriott Hotel Newton, where our friends and supporters gathered to pray, learn, plan, and socialize — as a community — to honor our commitment, 20 years and continuing, to Keep the Faith, Change the Church. (Scroll down to see the video links.)

Prof. Thomas H. Groome, Ed.D., from Boston College presented an interactive keynote address called Putting Jesus at the Heart of Keeping the Faith and Changing Church. Prof. Groome said, “I would like to spark people’s own thoughts about why Catholics often think of Church or Pope or Sacraments as the ‘heart’ of their faith and seldom Jesus.” Prof. Groome’s most recent book, What Makes Education Catholic: Spiritual Foundations, has won the top award in the Religious Education category at the 2022 Catholic Media Association conference. In 2020, he received top place from the Catholic Press Association for his book, Faith for the Heart: A Catholic Spirituality.

Also on the agenda were VOTF’s own Synod update and report, plus updates on the three major studies VOTF conducts: diocesan financial transparency and accountability, governance via Diocesan Finance Councils, and the first national analysis of dioceses child protection and safe environment practices. Attendees also heard a report on women’s roles in the Church and VOTF’s collaborative work for greater input from the centuries-neglected half of the Church.

Our 20th Year Commemoration Wall also helped us mark two decades of service to the Church. The Commemoration Wall was attendees’ opportunity to memorialize their recollections of the past two decades of working to keep the faith, change the Church. They jotted down and fastened to the Wall brief comments, remembrances, blessings, hopes, and suggestions, acknowledging how the Spirit has changed them and the Church over the past 20 years. The Commemorations were brought to the altar during the Offertory of the closing Mass, giving VOTF’s work its “authentic meaning, since through the celebration of the Eucharist, it is united to the redemptive sacrifice of Christ.” (Robert B. Williams, “Offertory Catechesis).

Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., recognized internationally as the premiere scholar on women deacons, led attendees in Grace before the luncheon and also served as acolyte for closing Mass with Fr. Bill Clark from the College of the Holy Cross, who led the benediction during our virtual conferences. Claire Byrne and Manny Lim led us in the Opening Song and Prayer, as they did last year. Renowned pastoral musician and composer Normand Gouin led the Paulist Center Boston Community Choir during musical interludes and Mass.

The Videos Are Here! VOTF 2022 Conference Revisited

With many thanks to Vincent Rocchio, our wonderful videographer and patient production editor, you can now revisit the presentations and music from our 2022 20th Year Commemoration event. If you missed the event, then here’s your chance to experience it almost as if you were there, from the Opening Song to the Closing Mass, from the opening remarks to the keynote to project updates and a special dialogue homily. We can’t feed you or bring you the Commemoration displays and great conversations, but here’s everything else

Opening Song and Prayer: Claire Byrne and Manny Lim

Welcoming Remarks: Mary Pat Fox, President

Finance Working Group Report: Margaret Roylance, Ph.D., chair of the Working Group, reports on VOTF’s 6th annual diocesan financial transparency report and the first report on Diocesan Finance Councils.

Protection of Children Working Group Report: Patricia T. Gomez, Ph.D., co-chair of the working group, discusses results from the first annual assessment of diocesan child protection safety standards and policies.

Women’s Roles Report: Svea Fraser, M.Div., speaks about Deacon Circles and VOTF’s work to elevating awareness and strengthening the roles of women in the Catholic Church.

Listening to the Faithful: Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, reports on the current status of the Synod on Synodality, the results of the VOTF sessions in the Diocesan Phase, and what to expect from the Continental Phase “Enlarge the Tent.”

Grace before Meals: Dr. Phyllis Zagano leads the prayer.

Keynote “Putting Jesus at the Heart of the Faith”: Prof. Thomas H. Groome, from Boston College and a world-renowned educator and author, speaks about putting Jesus at the heart of keeping the faith and changing the Church. This is an interactive presentation that includes audience responses.

Closing Mass: Celebrant Rev. William Clark, SJ, S.T.D., author and associate professor of religious studies at College of the Holy Cross, is assisted by acolyte Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., author, adjunct professor, and senior research associate in residence at Hofstra University. The homily is a a dialogue between Rev. Clark and Prof. Zagano. Music provided by the Paulist Center Community Choir (Boston) conducted by renowned pastoral music composer and musician Normand Gouin.


9:30 a.m. — Registration

10:00 a.m. — Opening Song and Prayer by Claire Byrne and Manny Lim. Welcome — Mary Pat Fox, VOTF President & Commemoration Moderator, on VOTF Past, Present, and Future Hopes and Dreams. Meet old friends and new, as we gather in the hotel conference room.

11 a.m. — VOTF leaders will review and provide the latest updates on major VOTF programs, projects, and initiatives, each followed by Q&A.

  • Margaret Roylance, Ph.D., VOTF Trustee and Finance Working Group Chair, reviews Diocesan Financial Transparency and Accountability Reports and presents findings of unique, first-ever study of Lay Involvement in Governance of the Church through Diocesan Finance Councils.
  • Patricia Gomez, Ph.D., VOTF Trustee and Child Protection Working Group Co-Chair reviews Diocesan Child Protection, Abuse Prevention, and Safe Environment Programs.
  • Svea Fraser, M.Div., VOTF Trustee and Women’s Emerging Voices Working Group Chair, reviews programs promoting women’s roles in the Church and a women’s ordained diaconate.
  • Donna B. Doucette, VOTF Executive Director reviews Listening to the Faithful: Synod 2021-2023 and VOTF’s Synod Sessions Report to Vatican’s General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

Noon — Lunch (delicious buffet) — Grace before meal offered by Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate-in-residence and Adjunct Professor of Religion at Hofstra University, internationally acclaimed Catholic scholar and expert on women’s diaconate, and prolific, award-winning author.

1:30 p.m. — Keynote Address — Thomas H. Groome, Ed.D., Professor of Theology and Religious Education at Boston College and world-renowned author and religious education expert. His interactive presentation will be Putting Jesus at the Heart of Keeping the Faith and Changing Church.

3:00 p.m. — Break and set up for Mass

3:45 p.m. — Mass — Celebrant Rev. William Clark, S.J., S.T.D., Associate Professor of Religious Studies, College of the Holy Cross; acolyte Dr. Zagano; music by Paulist Center Boston Community Choir under the direction of Normand Gouin, renowned pastoral musician and composer.

4:45 p.m. — Closing Remarks — Ms. Fox

VOTF 20th Year Commemoration Featured Speaker

Thomas H. Groome, Ed.D.

Tom Groome, an internationally renowned religious education expert and professor of theology and religious education at Boston College, is a long-time friend of Voice of the Faithful. The topic for his keynote address is Putting Jesus at the Heart of Keeping the Faith and Changing Church.

Prof. Groome has been teaching at Boston College since 1976 and is founding director of the doctorate program in theology and education. His areas of expertise are Catholic and religious education; issues of the Catholic Church and society; religion and politics; the papacy; pastoral ministry; and spiritual practices. He is an award-winning author of numerous books, his most recent being What makes Education Catholic: Spiritual Foundations.

His other publications include Catholic Spiritual Practices: Treasures Old and New; Will There Be Faith: A New Vision for Education and Growing Disciples; What Makes Us Catholic: Eight Gifts for Life; Educating for Life: A Spiritual Vision for Every Teacher and Parent; Language for a “Catholic” Church; Sharing Faith: A Comprehensive Approach to Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry; and Christian Religious Education: Sharing Our Story and Vision, a volume hailed as a classic and foundational text in religious education that introduces the shared praxis approach.

He also is the primary author of various religious education curricula that are widely used in Catholic schools and parishes. His most recent curriculum is The Credo Series, a Catholic high school theology series from Veritas.

Prof. Groome was born in County Kildare, Ireland. He holds an M.Div. from St. Patrick’s Seminary in Carlow, Ireland, an M.A. from Fordham University, and a doctoral degree in religious education from Union Theological Seminary/Columbia University.

Click here to read an interview of Prof. Groome talking about “What makes education Catholic.”

Voice of the Faithful Marks 20 Years

Voice of the Faithful marks its 20th year during 2022. We have diligently worked throughout these two decades to promote change in Catholic Church culture and structures that lend themselves to scandal. Committed to raising Spirit-led voices in the governance and guidance of the Church, VOTF has always operated under the Vatican II premise that the people of God have rights and responsibilities accorded to them by their baptism, and that being lay is as much a vocation as being ordained.

Click here to see VOTF’s 20th Year webpage, where you will find links to stories by VOTF leaders about what our history means to them.