Eight University of Dallas students had the opportunity to hear Cardinal Raymond Burke and other speakers by volunteering at the Catholic Action Marriage and Family Summit this past weekend, Nov. 3 and 4.
The students worked behind the scenes to put on this convention, which had more than 500 attendees.
Sophomore Luke Farson decided to help after hearing about the summit from a friend. He was one of the greeters for Cardinal Burke when the cardinal arrived in Irving for the second year in a row.
“I think all the volunteers did really well,” Farson said. “A lot of us knew each other … There were people who didn’t, but we had a pretty good work dynamic.”
After greeting the famous cardinal and helping unload supplies and set up for Mass, Farson listened to the speakers talk about faith, family and marriage.
One of the speakers was Dr. Gianna Emanuela, the daughter of Saint Gianna Molla, who refused an abortion and hysterectomy when she was pregnant to save the life of her daughter, even though it put her own life at risk.
“She was very enthusiastic, very Italian and she was so in love with her family,” Farson said.
Emanuela later became a doctor, following the footsteps of her mother. She recounted stories of her parents and read their letters, highlighting their love and respect for one another.
“You can just tell how full of love they were,” Farson said of the parents. “It was a really cool example of a husband and wife living out their vocation as one should.”
However, Farson wished the speakers talked more about solutions rather than focusing on challenges to marriage and family life in the current culture, a view shared by sophomore Greg Vanderheiden.
After hearing about some the speakers, Vanderheiden expected the summit to be more “conservative.” However, he wished that more perspective was given to other viewpoints on issues such as gender-roles, rather than affirming already-held beliefs by the audience.
“There’s a place for that, so that could be the purpose,” Vanderheiden said. “But I thought it was going to be more ‘these are our problems, and here are our arguments against them, and these are practical steps to fix them.’”
Vanderheiden appreciated Cardinal Burke’s input at the end and said he agreed with 90 percent of what was said about the dubia controversy in 2017.
This controversy entailed four cardinals, including Burke, who raised questions about a footnote in Pope Francis’ “Amoris Laetitia” that seems to broaden situations in which divorced-and-remarried couples can receive communion. Their questions still remain unanswered.
“I thought it was important,” Vanderheiden said. “[Burke] brought up a lot of the issues that [were] had with Pope Francis and I think that’s important not to forget about.”
Vanderheiden worried that if Burke did not talk about this issue, it could be forgotten.
“I [don’t] think that’s how it should work,” Vanderheiden said.
However, Vanderheiden mentioned that he probably will not volunteer next year if there is a similar event.