COLORADO SPRINGS. For 20 years, the St. Thomas Aquinas Society Conference has been a fixture on the first weekend of August in Colorado Springs. Speakers from all over the world address the conference, and each year they provide a global perspective of the Catholic faith which seems to sum up the spiritual movements of the past century.
This year, Father Mitch Pacwa, Father Donald Calloway and Father Greg Bramlage will offer their insight on the apparitions that took place in Fatima, Portugal in 1917 which, while predicting the horrific occurrences of the 20th century, also provided direction as to how believers should respond to them.
The conference, titled “Fatima and the Triumph,” will start on Aug. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Pikes Peak Center with a concert by famed guitarist Tony Melendez. Melendez was born without arms and plays the guitar with his feet. In 1987, he performed before Pope John Paul II, and the internationally-broadcast performance led to a career that has sent him to 44 countries. The addition of a Thursday concert was a successful experiment last year, and it made sense to use the Pikes Peak Center for the extra night since they already had it for the set-up, said Therese Lorentz, founder of the St. Thomas Aquinas Society.
“It makes for an interesting and challenging day to get as many things as possible taken care of in the setup, and have the concert that same night,” she said, “but it worked last time, and people seemed to enjoy it, so here we are doing it again.”
The conference continues Aug. 4-6 with talks, Masses, healing services and other events. Msgr. Bob Jaeger will preside over the opening Mass on Aug. 4 at 7 p.m. Earlier in the day at 1:30 p.m., Father Pacwa, founder of Ignatius Productions and host of the EWTN series “ETWN Live” and “Crossing the Threshold” returns as speaker for the conference.
“I am very thrilled he’s coming,” stated Lorentz. “He lived in Colorado Springs as a boy and he enjoys coming back home.”
Father Pacwa will speak on “Fatima Predictions for the 20th Century,” and “Responses to Fatima in the 21st century.” It is believed that the Marian apparitions at Fatima predicted some of the events during the 20th century, including World War II, the rise of communism and the attempted assassination of a pope. Mary asked three shepherd children to pray, perform acts of penance and foster a devotion to her Immaculate Heart. She asked them to pray the rosary every day.
Father Pacwa, an evangelist, recently launched a new ministry, Legacy of Faith, to strengthen and support the next generation of Catholics as they strive to live their faith in today’s culture. He will preside at the 7 p.m. Saturday Mass.
Other speakers at the 2017 conference also reflect the influence of the Fatima revelation in the topics they are addressing.
“This is definitely a Marian conference,” said Lorentz, “It’s interesting that on Oct. 15, Bishop Sheridan will consecrate the diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the Rosary Rally to be held at Holy Apostles Church at 2 p.m. A lot of people are super-excited because this is the 100th anniversary of Fatima.”
Father Donald Calloway, a priest of the community of Marians of the Immaculate Conception, underwent a dramatic conversion to the Catholic faith after a youth filled with drugs and crime. He writes about this experience in the book, “No Turning Back: A Radical Conversion Story.” He became a Marian priest and will speak on “The Virgin Mary: God’s Masterpiece,” and “Rosary, Spiritual Sword of Mary.”
Father Greg Bramlage will address the conference for the second year in a row with the talk, “Christ’s Healing Mission,” and “The Faith that Moves Mountains.” Father Bramlage is a priest in residence at St. Mark Parish in Highlands Ranch and has been presiding at monthly healing services at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Castle Rock. He founded the “Missionaries of the New Evangelization,” a ministry that was first based in Indianapolis, then in Uganda and presently in Colorado.
“People are finding out about the conference, so we have people coming from other states as vendors,” said Lorentz. “Last year we weren’t able to accommodate all the vendors that wanted to come.” A variety of books, videos, and religious articles are available through the vendors at the conference. Speakers will have items available in the vendor area as well.
Other speakers at the conference will be Father Charles Becker, Father Aniello Salicone and Father Bill Halbing. Conference musicians will be Kristin Taylor, Bernie Choiniere, Melendez and Vui Siaso Talitimu. Father Kyle Ingels will lead a separate youth program. Eucharistic adoration and the sacrament of Reconciliation will be available, as well as rosary and healing services. Information about the conference and the St. Thomas Aquinas Society can be found at www.StThomasAquinasSociety.org.