Voice of the Faithful commemorates 20 years of keeping the faith, changing the Church

Voice of the Faithful 20th Year Commemoration takes place Oct. 29, 2022, at the Boston Marriott Newton Hotel.

BOSTON, Mass., Sept. 15, 2022―Voice of the Faithful commemorates 20 years of keeping the faith, changing the church on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, for an event aptly named “VOTF’s 20th Year Commemoration: 20 Years of Keeping the Faith, Changing the Church.” VOTF’s friends and supporters will gather to pray, learn, plan, and socialize as a community honoring its two-decade commitment.

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Thomas H. Groome, Ed.D., professor of theology and religious education at Boston College and an internationally known author and religious education expert, will offer attendees an interactive keynote address called Putting Jesus at the Heart of Keeping the Faith and Changing Church. “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,” Groome said.

Groome has been teaching at Boston College since 1976 and is the founding director of the doctorate program in theology and education. He regularly lectures on Catholic and religious education, religion and politics, the papacy, pastoral ministry, and spiritual practices. His latest book, What Makes Education Catholic: Spiritual Foundations, and his 2020 book, Faith for the Heart: A Catholic Spirituality, have won top honors from the Catholic Media Association. He has written more than half a dozen other books and is the primary author of religious education curricula that Catholic schools and parishes across the country use. The Credo Series is his most recent theology curriculum for Catholic high schools.

Special guest Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., internationally recognized scholar on women deacons, will lead attendees in Grace before the luncheon and serve as acolyte for the closing Mass. Special guest Fr. Bill Clark, S.J., from the College of the Holy Cross, who led the benediction during VOTF’s virtual conferences, will celebrate Mass. Claire Byrne and Manny Lim will offer the opening song and prayer, as they did at VOTF’s 2021 conference. Renowned pastoral musician and composer Normand Gouin will lead the Paulist Center Boston Community Choir during musical interludes and Mass.

VOTF also will feature a Commemoration Wall at the event to help mark its 20th year. VOTF will provide attendees with paper, pen, and pin to use to jot down and fasten to the Wall a brief comment, remembrance, blessing, hope, or suggestion, acknowledging how the Spirit has changed VOTF members and supporters and the Church over the past 20 years. Selected participants will bring attendees’ commemorations 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”).

Additionally at the 20th Year Commemoration, VOTF leaders will bring attendees up to date on its programs, projects, and initiatives. Reports will include VOTF’s submission to the General Secretariat for Bishops in Rome for the Synod on Synodality, as well as women’s roles and emerging voices, financial transparency and accountability, child protection and safe environments, and lay involvement in Church governance through the Diocesan Finance Council. The latter two updates will cover VOTF’s first such nationwide studies. VOTF now publishes three comprehensive reviews of all U.S. dioceses’ websites. These reports give the faithful in each parish the information to judge diocesan activities within the purview of each report:

VOTF’s 20th Year Commemoration: 20 Years of Keeping the Faith, Changing the Church takes place Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., at the Boston Marriott Newton Hotel, 2345 Commonwealth Ave., Newton, Mass. Here is an agenda for the day:

VOTF 20th Year Commemoration Agenda

9:30 a.m.

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.

Lunch — 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.

  • Click here to view Dr. Zagano’s presentation to VOTF’s 2020 Conference.

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.

  • Click here to view an excerpt from Dr. Groome’s address sat VOTF’s 10th year Conference in 2011.

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 Choirunder the direction of Normand Gouin, renowned pastoral musician and composer.

  • Click here to view Fr. Clark’s closing benediction for VOTF’s 2021 Conference.

4:45 p.m.
Closing Remarks — Ms. Fox

Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.