On the first weekend of October, about 400 young Catholics assembled in Manitoba’s capital for The Way, the Truth and the Life Conference.  They left ready to tackle the significant spiritual and moral issues of contemporary society.

A few young adults in the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Winnipeg, under the guidance of Fr. Michael Kwiatkowski, are credited for kicking off the conference idea.

Their idea was to organize “a conference where they could get the hard facts and the truth, where all could open their minds with experts and leaders of the Church,” Fr. Kwiatkowski told The Interim.

Archbishop Maxim Hermaniuk gave his blessing to the venture and selected “The Way, the Truth, and the Life” to be its theme.

In her opening address, Marusia Kobrysky, a lawyer and youth leader called on young Catholics to be active in the Church and society as servants of Christ.

New Age and occult movements

Christians need discernment when encountering the New Age and occult movements, said Fr. Joseph Bisztyo, a theologian and professor at St. Thomas More College.  “We need a good nose to smell the rat right away,” he noted.

The danger is that many of these philosophies promote unity, peace, spiritual meditation and a holistic lifestyle, good in themselves, but not derived from the humble love of Christ, but rather from the search for human divinity.

Constable Russell Heslop, youth director of the Winnipeg police force, described the escalation of Satanism and occult activity in North America.  Young people are the primary targets, he said.

AIDS and homosexuality

Fr. Joseph Fessio, Jesuit theologian and founder of the Ignatius Institute and Press, dealt compassionately with the issue of AIDS and homosexuality.  Referring to the 1987 Church document, “Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons”, he stated that true pastoral care must tend to the spiritual as well as the physical needs of the patient.

Homosexual behaviour deviates from the procreative love expressed sexually between a husband and wife, Fr. Fessio stated, and must be recognized as sinful.

But homosexuality can be surmounted, he asserted.  Fr. Fessio has witnessed in many AIDS patients “the mercy of God as revealed through the epidemic.”  Often imminent death serves as an instrument of reconciliation with God, he stated.

Family and marriage

Everyone must use their sexuality in the way God intended.  “Good morals make good medicine,” he said.

Dr. Damian Fedoryka, President of Christendom College, promised that “love will bind us together in unity,” in personal relationships in the family and in marriage.  Friendship and courtship should be based in Christ and in accordance with the teachings of the Church.

The Church is in need of bold leadership to combat the influence of secular feminism and radical feminism on the church, said Fr. John Sembrat.  “Catholics and non-Catholics around the world have been spiritually enslaved,” he observed.

Young Catholics at the conference echoed the feelings of one participant, Kathleen Osborne.  “We were challenged, listened to, and heard,” she said.