Religious communities invite all to Wake Up the World Conference

Photo Caption: Former model Mario St. Francis will be among the conference presenters Sept. 18-19 at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria.

By: By Jennifer Willems

At its heart, the Wake Up the World Conference that will be held Sept. 18-19 at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria is much more than an opportunity to learn something about consecrated life.

“Our main goal is that people would be excited about religious life and they would be surrounded by consecrated men and women and see the beauty of our lives,” said Sister Sarah Elizabeth Roy, OSF, who chairs the Peoria Association for Religious Life. Founded last year, PEARL is sponsoring the conference as part of the Diocese of Peoria’s observance of the Year of Consecrated Life.

Pope Francis called for the special year, which opened the First Sunday of Advent last November and will close on Feb. 2, 2016. “I am counting on you to wake up the world,” he said in an apostolic letter to all consecrated people as the year was beginning, because “radical evangelical living is not only for religious: it is demanded of everyone.”

The speakers and events planned for the conference will give people of all ages a chance to explore their own vocations while celebrating those of the consecrated men and women in central Illinois and beyond.

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The daytime program on Friday, Sept. 18, is for middle school and high school students and consecrated persons only. Sister Sarah said at least 13 religious communities will have booths for the young people to visit before they go to St. Mary’s Cathedral for a Mass celebrated by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC.

After lunch, the students will hear about being “Fully Alive in Christ” from Mario St. Francis. A former model who now travels the world to talk about faith and the call to holiness, he took the name of St. Francis after a profound conversion experience.

At the same time, Father Joseph Mary, CSJ, prior of the Community of St. John in rural Princeville, will present “Remembering Our Call and Renewing Our Souls” to the consecrated women and men.

Breakout sessions will take the youth to three stations for thoughts about “Discovering Our Passions,” and learning more about “Prayer/Knowing God’s Will.” They will also have “Fun with Religious.”

The evening program, open to everyone, will start at the Spalding Pastoral Center and feature another keynote from St. Francis, “Living for Christ.” After refreshments, the group will be invited to St. Mary’s Cathedral for eucharistic adoration and the sacrament of reconciliation.

The events on Saturday, Sept. 19, are open to everyone and will take place at the Spalding Pastoral Center. The morning keynote, “Universal Call to Holiness, Religious Life’s Role in the Church,” will be given by Sister Loretta Dedomenicis, FMA, of St. John’s Catholic Newman Center in Champaign, and St. Francis will deliver the afternoon talk, “Building the Kingdom of God.”

In between, there will be stations where people can explore promoting vocations in the family, and the vows taken by religious. One of the stations will be devoted to eucharistic adoration and prayer, while another, for consecrated persons only, will feature “Pope Francis’ Words to Consecrated.”

The day will end with a Holy Hour for Vocations at St. Mary’s Cathedral and Mass.

The consecrated women and men will have another opportunity to celebrate their vocation and one another the evening before the conference begins. That gathering will feature evening prayer, dinner and a presentation on the conference’s theme by Abbot Philip Davey, OSB, of St. Bede Abbey in Peru.

“Pope Francis, in calling for this Year of Consecrated Life, asked us to look to the past with thanksgiving, to the present with joy, and to the future with hope,” said Sister Rose Therese Mann, OSF, vocation director for The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis and one of the co-founders of PEARL.

“We want to encourage vocations and to help the laity and clergy know us and see the joy of consecrated life in particular and following Christ more fully. That’s where the joy of consecrated life comes from,” she said.”

Due to a generous benefactor and food donated by Michael’s Italian Feast in Washington, there is no charge to attend “Wake Up the World.” Registration is requested, however, so appropriate arrangements can be made for meals and materials.

An online registration form can be found at

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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