New York Catholic Bible Summit Soars Toward Gospel Joy

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Our symbol is not a happy face, our symbol is the cross of Jesus Christ. And in the midst of that we find our joy.” So said Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto in a keynote address at the New York Catholic Bible Summit.

“It’s cruelly and blatantly and bluntly realistic about evil in the world, but it is at the heart of joy which is found in the love of Christ in the midst of suffering.”

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, apostolic nuncio and permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, celebrated a bilingual Mass at the June 16 Bible summit at Cathedral High School in Manhattan. Concelebrants included Cardinal Collins; Cardinal Juan José Omella of Barcelona, Spain, who delivered a keynote address in Spanish; and Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros.

Nearly 600 attended the daylong summit, which had the theme “Live the Gospel of Joy!” Sponsors were the archdiocese’s Catechetical Office and Department of Youth Faith Formation, and the American Bible Society.

“Really, could there be a timelier or more sorely needed topic than this?” Sister Joan Curtin, C.N.D., director of the Catechetical Office, asked attendees at the beginning of the conference.

“Hopefully, at the end of the day, you’ll each leave with happy faces, with joy in your hearts, with renewed zeal for living the Gospel of Joy and with eagerness to share with everyone you encounter,” she said.

Cardinal Collins, in the English keynote, conceded “there is evil all around us—some of it subtle, some of it no-so-subtle—but we are called to serve the Lord with gladness, come before Him singing for joy.”

“Because in Christ we find our joy,” he said.

“Not in a false sense that everything’s fine, because it’s not. But in the cold realism that sees the evil around us, but sees at the heart of it the providence of God, who is with us every step of the way.”

Shariff De Los Santos and his wife, Nathel Hernandez, both 28, said the summit may spur them to attend Mass on a more regular basis. The Catholic couple, who live in the Archdiocese of Newark, said they were moved by Cardinal Omella’s keynote address. “It’s been amazing,” De Los Santos said.

Ms. Hernandez said she planned to read in depth some Scripture passages Cardinal Omella cited.

After Cardinal Collins led the Angelus, numerous workshops in English and Spanish were offered in the afternoon. Among them were “Biblical Perspectives of the Experience of Joy,” “How the Bible Became a Book,” “The Reformation and the Bible,” “Headlines from Jesus,” “From Contrition to the Joy of the Lord” and “The Joy of Being a Disciple.”

Rella O’Connor, a sales representative of Sadlier Religion who attends St. Patrick’s Cathedral, said of the summit: “You’re in classrooms with real scholars that have devoted their lives to particular subjects, and you want more because they really have a rich texture of knowledge about these topics.”

A panel discussion and closing prayer service concluded the summit.

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