Melissa Hernandez, Contributing Writer
A liturgical art display, 71 speakers, 100 exhibitors, musical entertainment – all will be featured at this year’s sixth annual University of Dallas Ministry Conference this Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26-27, sponsored by the University of Dallas School of Ministry and the Dioceses of Dallas and Fort Worth.
In a departure from the tradition of past years, the UD Ministry Conference will be held for the first time at the Irving Convention Center. UDMC Director Oscar Carranza said the new venue is an improvement upon the previous years’. The change is due to the better facilities the Irving Convention Center offered, its convenience and easier access to it through the DART Orange Line.
“It’s a new venue, it’s close, [has] better amenities and the technology is built-in unlike the Dallas Convention Center,” Carranza said.
UDMC began in 2007 with only 1,000 participants as a community outreach program to provide resources and faith formation. By 2011, it had grown to involve 5,200 people.
“We have been growing in attendance each year,” Carranza said. “We see that growth as a way of gaining an importance within the community.”
The two-day event will include various workshops and keynote speakers. The keynote speaker for Friday will be Cardinal Roger Mahoney, an American cardinal and retired archbishop of Los Angeles. Mahoney was appointed archbishop by Pope John Paul II in 1985. He will deliver a speech entitled, “I Was a Stranger, and You Welcomed Me.” In his speech, he will examine the biblical roots for the teaching of the Catholic Church on immigrants and immigration. He will also discuss the future of workers after the retirement of the baby boomers.
“This is the year of faith, so every speaker will touch and focus on faith,” Carranza said. “Every speaker has been asked to keep the year of faith as a focus.”
Freshman pastoral ministry and theology major Adam Brill will be a first-time attendee. He hopes to learn much at the event that will help him in the future.
“I hope to gain experience and training in ministry,” Brill said. “There are a lot of workshops and speakers from those who do [pastoral ministry] for a living that have valuable insight.”
Carranza said the conference provides faith formation, resources to grow in the faith and information about involvement in the faith. Brill believes the event helps to further the skills of those involved in ministry.
“The conference is an event to foster and train,” Brill said. “Teachers need it, ministers need it and students going into that field need it.”
Although the deadline to register for this year’s event was on Oct. 12, Carranza encourages students to make plans to attend next year. There are also volunteer opportunities for next year.
“We’re just down the street, and with the Orange Line we hope that more students will come,” Carranza said. “Volunteers are welcome; we can always use the presence of UD students.”