Icon of Christ's Descent into Hades 
Eparchy of Passaic
1997 Byzantine Congress
A one-day religious education
conference for adults
Saturday, November 15, 1997
Lafayette College
Easton, PA

We hope you've been with us in the past.  If not, now is the time to start. Join hundreds of others for a one-day religious education conference for adults, the 19th consecutive Byzantine Congress. 
| What is it? | Congress Schedule | Keynote & Workshops | Registration | Directions & Etc.|

What is the Byzantine Congress?

The nineteenth annual Byzantine Congress, sponsored by the Passaic Eparchy Office of Religious Education, is a one-day religious education conference for adults.  It is a gathering of laity, religious and clergy for the purposes of enrichment, prayer and celebration, vision setting, and community building.  Each year the Congress promotes these goals through a formal program and through the informal gatherings that take place throughout the day.

The Byzantine Congress is intended for all adults and young adults who are interested and / or involved in the growth of their faith life and concerned with how their faith speaks to life in the 20th century.  Mature youth seeking to grow into adulthood and an adult faith life are welcomed and encouraged to attend.  While the Congress is especially intended for those in the Byzantine Catholic Churches (Ruthenian, Melkite, Ukrainian, Romanian) in the United States, all are warmly welcomed to attend from the Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches.

The formal program includes a keynote address, which develops the theme and sets the tone for the day. Participants are able to attend two workshops, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. (See the section How to Register for further information on workshop selection). Each workshop treats a particular topic in depth and allows for questions from the participants.

The closing session is followed by the celebration of vespers.  Lunch, break-time refreshments, and handout materials are included in the registration fee.    

Congress Schedule

Registration  9:00 am -  9:30 am
Prayer & Welcome Remarks  9:30 am - 10:00 am
Honored Catechists 10:00 am - 10:15 am
Keynote Address 10:15 am - 11:15 am
Workshop Session I 11:30 am - 12:45 pm
Lunch 12:45 pm - 2:00 pm
Workshop Session II 2:15 pm - 3:30 pm
Break 3:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Closing Events 4:00 pm - 4:45 pm
Vespers 4:45 pm - 5:30 pm

Keynote & Workshops

Keynote Address - The Glory of Byzantium Revisited  E. Together: Jesus and Us
A. Processing the Keynote Address F. Preparing for Jubilee 2000
B. The Last or Mystical Supper G. Human Needs: A Framework for Hope and Healing
C. God's Greatest Gift; Our Greatest Challenge H. Paradise Lost - Adam, Eve and the Apple
D. Being Byzantine as Gift to the Church Universal  I. The Domestic Church: Family

Keynote Address - The Glory of Byzantium Revisited

Fr. Jack Custer

The recent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has renewed many people's appreciation for Byzantine art and reminded us of the central place beauty holds in the Byzantine Christian experience. In his keynote address, Fr. Jack Custer will examine what it means to be heirs to such a profound and rich tradition.

Beauty can lead us to God.  The splendor of Byzantine Liturgy and the principles for its renewal depend upon a theological understanding of beauty. Transposing the Byzantine world's spiritual experience of beauty into the terms of contemporary American culture is a task we have barely begun to consider.

Beauty can never be an end in itself and a theology of divine glory runs a number of serious risks. Properly understood, however, spirituality founded upon contemplation of the beautiful poses compelling moral challenges and has the potential to transform communities. Thus, an invitation to catch a glimpse of the divine glory may remain the Byzantine Catholic Church's most effective approach as we actively participate in the evangelization of the world in the new millennium.

Fr. Jack Custer has been a priest of the Eparchy of Passaic for fourteen years.  He has pastored parishes in Danbury and Philadelphia and has been active in academic life, youth ministry and priestly formation. He holds degrees in Biblical Studies and Theology and regularly publishes and lectures on Byzantine, patristic and Scriptural topics. He is currently Dean and Professor of Scripture at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh.

Workshops (choose two)
A. Processing the Keynote Address (Morning Only)

Fr. Jack Custer

This is an opportunity to enter into a lively discussion with Fr. Jack Custer to challenge or further explore aspects of the keynote address.  Note: This is an extremely limited, first come, first served, workshop that will take place during the morning session only.  Admission tickets will be issued. This workshop is only for active participants, not for listeners.  Anyone in this workshop should be prepared to enter the discussion actively.

B. The Last or Mystical Supper

Fr. Joseph Bertha

This workshop will explore the meaning of the icons and images which are used to depict the Eucharistic Meal instituted by Jesus on Holy Thursday and shared with his apostles. Particular attention will be drawn to historical analysis of icons, which illustrate this event, together with religious painting, particularly, Leonardo's Last Supper.

Fr. Joseph Bertha is currently writing his doctoral dissertation entitled "The Illustration of the Akathist Hymn at the Ferapontov Monastery," for Binghamton University.  He writes a monthly icon column for the Eastern Catholic Life and has lectured extensively on icons.

C. God's Greatest Gift; Our Greatest Challenge

Dr. Maureen Daddona

Humanity redeemed through the loving sacrifice of Christ is God's greatest gift to us. The Resurrection has truly transformed humankind. Consider the ways in which God's sharing of divinity has expressed itself in human nature. Our enriched abilities bring with them the challenge of developing a God-centered conscience. In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to examine several amazing discoveries that are changing lives dramatically. The question will be posed: will these discoveries assist us in living out the reality of our salvation?

Dr. Maureen Daddona is a professor of biology and teaches genetics at Nassau Community College, Long Island, NY. Dr. Daddona has been a catechist for 15 years at St. Andrew the Apostle Byzantine Catholic Church in Westbury, NY and has participated in adult religious education on the diocesan and parish level.

D. Being Byzantine as Gift to the Church Universal

Fr. Joseph Loya, O.S.A.

The word "Byzantine" implies both a particular history and a particularly rich Church Tradition. In this workshop Fr. Loya will consider Pope John Paul II's summons to be "living examples" of our heritage who possess a "clear consciousness" of our unique identity. Fr. Loya will trace the historical trajectory of Byzantine Christianity from the time of its foundation to its implantation in the soil of Eastern Europe. He will then take account of what constitutes the unique genius of Byzantine Christianity with Western Christianity.

Fr. Joseph Loya, O.S.A., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University, Villanova, PA. In addition, he is editor for Christian Resources for the Journal of Ecumenical Studies.

E. Together: Jesus and Us

Fr. Jonathan Morse, Ph.D.

This workshop will examine our union with Christ in the Eucharist as expressed in the Divine Liturgy. This liturgy of the Eastern Church expresses our faith in the Eucharistic presence and the benefits available to us through its reception.

Fr. Jonathan Morse, Ph.D., is Diocesan Director of Religious Education for the Ukrainian Catholic Diocese of stamford, CT. He is the author of the Through the Son bulletin supplement series and is Project Director for Awakening to our Treasures.

F. Preparing for Jubilee 2000

Sister Helena Paskevich, SSMI

The Church has designed a three-year plan for preparing for the great celebration of the Incarnation of Christ in the year 2000.  In 1997, the focus is on Jesus Christ, faith and the Mystery of Baptism.  1998 will highlight the Holy Spirit, the virtue of hope and the Mystery of Chrismation.  And 1999 will have the theme of God the Father, the virtue of love and the Mystery of the Eucharist.  This workshop will offer suggestions so that families, groups and the Christian community may understand our cause for celebration from a Byzantine perspective and develop our inner gifts so that we may be genuine Christ-bearers proclaiming this Jubilee.

Sister Helena Paskevich, SSMI, serves as principal of St. Nicholas School, Minersville, PA. In addition, she is also a retreat leader and editor of "Awakening to Our Treasures - The Eastern Catholic Church prepares for Jubilee 2000."

G. Human Needs: A Framework for Hope and Healing - Making the most of our journey through life

Dr. Helen Yura Petro

This workshop will look at 35 human needs that encompass spiritual, physical, psychological and self-fulfillment dimensions of the person as a basis for wellness and as a means to heal brokenness.  A problem-solving approach will be used to determine the status and means to enhance need fulfillment. Participants will have an opportunity to assess their own level of human need fulfillment using a checklist. The checklist can be taken home for future use.

Dr. Helen Yura Petro is eminent Professor emeritus in the School of Nursing, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA.  Dr. Petro is a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Byzantine Catholic Church, Virginia Beach, VA.

H. Paradise lost... Adam, Eve and the Apple

Teresa Sekel

Every society has a creation story, because everyone seeks to unravel the question of their origins and the meaning of life. the creation story with the greatest impact on Western Civilization has been the biblical story of Adam and Eve. This workshop will begin with an examination of the historical creation accounts using various methods of biblical interpretation, and will then explore the meaning of the text for our lives today in light of sin, redemption, and why "bad things happen to good people."

Teresa Sekel has served at parish and diocesan levels in the area of youth and adult religious education, and has been employed in parish social service and pastoral ministry programs.  She is currently working in the Chancery Office of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Pittsburgh.

I. The Domestic Church: A Pastoral Reflection on the Family as the Fundamental Place for Education in the True Meaning of Sexuality
Dr. William Urbine

The recent Church Document entitled "The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality" gives direction to religious educators and parents on the challenging responsibility of educating our children in their sexuality.  This workshop will review key elements of this recent document and practical strategies to assist parents in this important work of the family. This workshop is especially intended for educators and parents.

Dr. William Urbine is the Family Life Ministries administrator for the Alentown Roman Catholic Diocese. He is the co-author of "On Life and Love" (revised edition)  a summary on church teaching on marriage and family. He is also an adjunct professor at Allentown College of St. Francis DeSales and Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia.

How to Register

Each Congress participant will have the opportunity to attend the Keynote address and two of the workshop sessions described on this page.

To register, review the list of workshop offerings and select the two workshops that you wish to attend, and mark them on the registration form below.  Print and complete the registration form and review the payment options below, paying close attention to the various deadlines.  You will receive a confirmation notice of your registration including your morning and afternoon workshops.

Checks and money orders should be made payable to the "Office of Religious Education." Send the completed form and payment the O.R.E. at the address at the bottom of this page.

Registration Fees:

Standard Registration Fee

    $ 44  All registrations (including youth and senior adults) postmarked after October 31, 1997.

Early Registration Discount

    $ 39 each, adult (ages 18-60)
    $ 34 each, senior adult (ages 61 and older)
    $ 34 each, youth (grades 9-12)

    must be postmarked on or before October 31, 1997.

Group Discount

Special group discounts are available which offer significant savings to the registration fee, provided they comply with the following registration guidelines. To qualify for a discount, payment must accompany registrations, complete with workshop selections, names and addresses of those attending, and submitted as a group in the same envelope, postmarked on or before October 31.  Discount is taken off entire total fee for the group, not taken on a per person basis.

    Group of 10 or more: 10% off total bill
    Group of 20 or more: 20% off total bill

No registrations accepted postmarked after November 7, 1997.  Unfortunately, there are no registrations at the door.

Please Note

The Office of Religious Education will make every effort to accommodate a substitute for a paid registration in the event of extenuating circumstances.

The Office of Religious Education reserves the right to make workshop assignment changes due to space limitations.  In the event of a canceled workshop, the participants will be given the substitute workshop of their choice.   

Directions & Accommodations

Reaching Lafayette:

By car: Easton is located off Rt. 22 at the Delaware River boundary between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  (Exit Westbound, "Easton"; Eastbound, "4th Street.")  When traveling via Rt. 78, be sure to follow signs for Rt. 22; from Rt. 78, Rt. 611 North leads into Easton.

By Mass Transit:  Bus service is available to Easton from Greyhound, Trailways and TransBridge lines.  Taxi service is available to campus.  Air Travel is via the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton International Airport, which is about 20 minutes from campus.

Accommodations: Information concerning accommodations near the Lafayette College campus is available upon request from the O.R.E.  Call us at 732-382-5451.

Registration will take place in Pardee Hall from 9:00 am to 9:30 am.

  Office of Religious Education
Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic
1400 Church Street
Rahway, New Jersey 07065
Phone: +1-732-382-5451

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Copyright © 1997  http://www.byzcath.org. and the Passaic Office of Religious Education. All Rights Reserved.  Last updated on 30 September 1997.