Clare Myers, Staff Writer
The increasingly popular University of Dallas Ministry Conference (UDMC) may attract its largest crowd yet this year, since its keynote speaker will be one of Pope Francis’ top advisors.
His Eminence Óscar Andrés Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga is the archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and a leader of the Council of Cardinals, a new committee of eight cardinals appointed by the pontiff to advise him on matters of church governance.
“He’s bringing to us that message of revitalization in the Church,” Oscar Carranza, the director of UDMC, said of Rodríguez.
The council, informally known as the “G8,” is widely seen as a symbol of Francis’ dedication to reform, especially the reform of the Roman Curia. At an initial set of meetings over the course of a few days in early October, the G8 discussed serving the pope and the universal Church.
The coordinators of the UDMC invited Rodríguez to speak long before he was named one of the eight. Carranza explained that the Diocese of Dallas has a strong relationship with the cardinal’s diocese of Tegucigalpa.
“Some call it a sister diocese,” he said.
The keynote address, which will be given on Oct. 25 and Oct. 26 at the Irving Convention Center, is titled, “The State of the Church: The Importance of the New Evangelization.” The speech will address the relevance of the New Evangelization to every aspect of life, according to Carranza.
“[The New Evangelization applies to everyone,] whether [he is] a teacher … or a gardener,” he said.
The UDMC usually draws a large crowd of educators; 2,400 teachers and administrators, nearly half of the anticipated 5,200 to 5,500 attendees, are expected this year, but Carranza emphasizes that the conference is open to all.
“The target audience is the general public,” he said, adding that the Dallas-Fort Worth area is home to 2 million Catholics. The annual conference has grown drastically since it began seven years ago. The 2012 event drew over 5,000 participants, a number already surpassed this year during pre-registration.
Organizers expect Rodríguez’s high profile to draw even more attention to the conference and to UD. Carranza points out, however, that even without the presence of such a prestigious guest, the UDMC has seen “tremendous growth.”
This is probably due to its willingness to cater to the diverse Dallas-Fort Worth community; this year, UDMC is offering addresses in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.
Rodríguez’s keynote speech will be delivered in English on Oct. 25 and in Spanish on Oct. 26.
“For the keynote speaker, it’s not typical, but it has been done in the past,” Carranza said. “It just happens that Cardinal Óscar speaks five languages.”