Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Catholic Writing Conference Part I -- Meeting Old Friends; Making New Friends

This was in the entrance of the Renaissance Convention Center in Schaumburg. My friend Anne Bingham, whom I've known on the Blueboards for years offered to pick me up from O'Hare. It's not a short drive at all but Midwesterners are a hardy lot and she showed not a single sign of fatigue. She gave me a hug and said she brought me a present. And Marcia Hoehne jumped out of nowhere. I couldn't believe my eyes. It couldn't be! She had family visiting. But that hug was very real, as real as the enormous sandwiches we ate in the hotel restaurant. It was great to talk shop and family. I couldn't stop staring into their blue-blue eyes!!! Before they left, Marcia prayed over my head and I had an amazing time--completely headache free for the whole week I was in the Chicago area. It's a miracle!!! Praise God!!!



I've been a member of the Catholic Writer's Guild for three years. Only last year did I begin to get to know some of the members because the guild has a private Facebook place where we can share prayer intentions and writing stuff. It is one of the reasons I joined FB because this seems to be the way how a group of people with common interests communicate. So, what a pleasure to finally meet some of these folks and more while at the conference. What's brilliant is that they hold it in conjunction with the Catholic Marketing Network trade show where vendors and retailers can get together to see all the latest goodies.

So it was especially fun to listen to Mike Aquilina talk about his newest book that he wrote with his daughter: A History of the Church in 100 Objects. Many people read their way into Church, but most people don't care about theology or history; they want St. Joseph's statue and know how to bury it properly. Most Catholics are not scholars, but they practice the faith. And throughout much of history, the believers were illiterate. Their faith came from stuff rather than philosophy. Our faith is encoded in stuff. Matter matters to us. Our God gets mixed up with humans--He becomes Incarnate. He wrought miracles through the material. Biblical religion dares us to check the facts about the Ark, the Crucifixion, Resurrection, St. Peter's Basilica. Catholicism is a religion of stuff--sacramental.

Aquilina quotes Andrew Greeley from the Catholic Imagination: "Catholics live in an enchanted world: a world of statues and holy water, stained glass and votive candles, saints and religious medals, rosary beads and holy pictures. But these Catholic paraphernalia are merely hints of a deeper and more pervasive religious sensibility that inclines Catholics to see the Holy lurking in creation. The world of the Catholic is haunted by a sense that the objects, events, and persons of daily life are revelations of Grace."

I thoroughly enjoyed the trade show as well and wished I weren't flying because I would've loved to pick up even more things, not just books. As it is, I ended up mailing a box to myself and I can't wait to dive into all these beautiful new books.

Daily Mass, Adoration and Confession were offered. And the CMN set up pilgrimages. I was so torn because I'd just finished a little home retreat with Archbishop Fulton Sheen and the Little Flower but I have a great attraction to St. Maximilian Kolbe (born on his birthday, married on his Feast Day, and named my firstborn Max). I chose to go to Marytown, the national shrine of this great saint. It's a jewel in the diocese of Illinois. The pictures don't do justice. I had such a good time visiting with Deanna Klingel on the bus to Marytown and Brother Augustine was a wonderful narrator. I notice that monks and nuns everywhere are incredibly happy people!





Here are two wonderful gentlemen I got to meet, Bud McFarlane, one of the founding members of the CMN, and Amar Patel, mathematician/writer, who was inspired to write after he read Bud's books! He was just asking me whether I knew of him, and I did not, and there walked Bud out of a classroom. Amar fan-boyed over Bud. It was great! We got to talking and I lamented the loss of my favorite wooden rosary that I've touched to various relics and Bud was so kind, he gave me a St. Francis/St. Anthony medal that's been touched to different relics, including the True Cross!

This is just the beginning. Stay tuned for more. Part 2 HERE.


Unknown said...

Great start to the recap. It was great meeting you.

I am sure you have many things to read, but read my book first. LOL


Vijaya said...

Thank you! Amar, you have stiff competition!!! The box of books is on its way home to me. It'll be Christmas in July!!! So wonderful to meet you and I really hope to make it again next summer.

Jenni said...

This sounds like a great conference--and how wonderful that you got to meet up with Blueboarders! I've been thinking for some time that I'd really enjoy attending a Christian writer's conference, because I'd like to focus on my faith in my writing. Sounds like you got inspired!

Mirka Breen said...

Anne B and Marcia are very special BBs. Lucky you. (And lucky them, because you're right there with them.)
Friendships are life's moments of grace, and I'm happy that you had them.

Faith E. Hough said...

Somehow I missed this post before--busy week! What a great conference, and how great to meet up with generous friends! I can't wait to meet Marcia someday. :)
Send me some mini-reviews when you finish the books, okay? :)

Vijaya said...

Jenni, if you can make it to Chicago, it will be well worth your time. And if you can't, CWG still offer an online conference in Feb. Like the BB, it's a great community of writers. I'm so grateful Carmela encouraged me to join.

Mirka, I'm feeling very, very blessed. Friends are the best part of this writing journey.

Faith, I hope your paths will cross too. The kidlit world is small enough that we'll run into each other. And the stack of books I want to review keeps on growing; I suppose I should get started :)