Annual National Catholic Family Conference Expected to Draw Record Numbers

( [email protected] ) Jul 07, 2003 05:54 AM EDT

ANAHEIM, Ca. -- 9,000 participants from across the country are expected to gather at the Anaheim Convention Center for the 13th Annual National Catholic Family Conference, July 12-13. Last year, 5,800 attended the event celebrating the traditional theology of the Catholic faith.

"The Catholic faith is a hard faith to live in, but it's a great faith to die in," said Barbara McGuigan, president of Voice of Virtue International, a lay ministry based in Orange County. "An unrepentant impure person cannot enter the kingdom of God. Our eternal destiny is at stake."

McGuigan’s group ordered a shipment of 1,000 specially designed white rosary beads and “chastity commitment” crosses for the event; along with the $20 rosaries and crosses that range from $8 to $15, VVI also sells two-CD set containing 20 rosary meditations on purity designed to encourage teenagers and their parents to pray daily.

Terry Barber, president of the Catholic Resource Center, a lay ministry based in West Covina that sponsors the conference said those who attend are going to get what the church teaches in a very convincing way.”

Speakers such as McGuigan are slated to lead a variety of sessions including "How to Keep Your Kids Catholic," "Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salus: Outside the Church, There Is No Salvation" and "A Message to Our Separated Brethren: America's in Trouble."

"We're talking about speakers who are on fire," Barber said.

According to Barber, the conference will offer congregants the chance to learn about controversial topics and presentations most often uncovered in church.

"People are not getting the teachings of the church" at the local parishes, Barber said. "We'd like to go out of business. We're just trying to respond to a need the church has: giving [parishioners] convincing reasons for their faith and giving them hope."

This year’s line of speakers include minister Scott Hahn who wrote the bestseller books, "The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth" and "Rome Sweet Home."

Other speakers include Alex Jones, a former Pentecostal pastor in Detroit who converted to Catholicism — along with 64 of his congregants — on Easter 2001, and Father Michael Manning, the only Catholic priest with a show on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, which generally features Protestant charismatics.

According to Barber, the CRC in conjunction with its sister ministry, St. Joseph Communications, now has 37 employees and takes in about $5 million a year. Communal prayers are said in the office each workday at noon and 3 p.m., times when the phones are put on hold.

Currently, the ministries' emphasis is on Catholic evangelism through radio broadcasts, books, tapes, speakers and conferences that both promote an orthodox view of the faith and give a detailed defense of Catholic traditions, a discipline known as apologetics.

Barber says books and videotapes are freely handed out to hook customers, who then get follow-up letters asking for donations.

"We get more money from giving away things than we would by selling them," said Barber, who hung a 40-foot-long sign on the center's West Covina building inviting drivers on the adjacent San Bernardino Freeway to stop in for such a gift.

Last year, the ministry gave away 15,000 video copies of "The Splendor of the Church," author Hahn's response to the Catholic sexual abuse scandal.

"Every 500 years, the church goes through a purification because it walked away from the cross of Christ," Barber said. "We have had an infiltration into the church The smoke of Satan has entered the church. By that I mean liberalism.”