C.H.A.P.L.E.T is a home school support group for Catholics in Southern New Jersey. Besides their web site they run a private Yahoo! group for members, field trips, First Friday, classes, co-ops etc. I have been to the large Christian Conference MassHOPE but never a Catholic one.
First of all yes it was a long drive. We went the night before as 2 of us have family in New Jersey--- Thank you to Bill and Jean and their many children for their hospitality! Unfortunately because of the drive we did not attend Mass but arrived about 9:30, 1/2 hour late for Conference Hall opening. Many in this organization are able to attend Indult Tridentine Mass every week. It is rare for us to even see one. Therefore the Conference was held at a church that is still set up primarily for this Latin Rite and it was a treat to see. After Mass Holy Eucharist was reserved in the Chapel where Adoration of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament was available all day. This left the church available for the speakers. The Parish Hall with the displays and Food Area is attached so everything was very convenient.
Every participant was greeted with a packet full of information from various vendors including catalogs of vendors and schools that could not send a representative. In it was our agenda, a map, membership application, a helpful hints page and a survey form. You could also order a CD of all the talks.
I have ordered copies of the talks that I will share with friends. I did miss 1 talk and the panel discussion but I enjoyed the other 2 speakers. First was Rob Evans "The Donut Man" He is a regular on EWTN's children's program and has spent 20 years in children's ministry but in April 2006 he and his wife and daughter were received into the Catholic church. He spoke about his conversion, ministering to children and shared some of the new, decidedly Catholic, and completely engaging songs he's written since beginning his conversion.
The three of us were able to speak to him personally and I can't wait for him to come to MA! He makes an excellent point about the fact that in the Catholic church Christ instituted our physical being is integrated into the life of the church through the gifts of the Sacraments. He quips that "If you are going to believe at all you might as well believe it all!" He is looking forward to continuing his ministry among the Evangelical church with his new fullness of Faith.
The other speaker we heard was Deacon Eugene McGurik, a deacon for 19 years, married for 30, he is the father of 4 homeschooled children. He is the Director of Academic Counseling at Seton Home Study School, one of the largest Catholic Homeschool providers in the nation. His topic was "Why Homeschool"
He began a little nervous and dry, not just because he followed Rob, and I was a little frustrated as I tried to take notes that they flew by so fast and furious. But after the first 10 minutes he settled into a rhythm and reached what must have been his favorite part of the talk. He became interesting and engaging and made the Canon Law regarding the responsibilities and rights of parents within the church accessible information. Then he provided copies of the Canon Law paragraphs pertinent to parenting and education and gave reprint permission-- which I'll take advantage of later.
He also included wonderful information from John Taylor Gatto. This 20 year Teacher took the opportunity of receiving Teacher of the Year to resign and to point out the many flaws in the NY public schools of 1970's. Since then he has written about Outcome Based Education and its flaws.
The vendors tables were complete and the selection of booths were varied. Publishers and Book Distributors included Catholic Books Publishing, Pauline Books and Media, Arx, TAN, Adoremus, Math-U-See, Bethlehem Books, Scepter, Catholic Heritage Curricula. ,Emmanuel Books, Family Centered Press and Our Father's House.
Schools included Seton, Mother of Divine Grace, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, Ave Maria University, and Christendom College.
Spanish Language Materials were available through Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother with Lumen Entertainment/Ave Maria University in Florida.
Other vendors were Miles Christi Priests and Brothers Retreats, Illuminated Ink, Nest Entertainment, Blessed Imelda Veils, My Mary Doll, Guerrilla Apologetics, J. C. Rosaries (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the local Catholic Gift shop Padre Pio Shop.
A special surprise for us was seeing the sisters from Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary from Still River, MA. My friend's sister is a sister there. (If they each known about the other the sister Sister might have been there) They run the Saint Benedict Center, summer camps, and a school.
Our greeting bag also included information or a full catalog from Our Lady of Victory Home Study Program, Our Lady of the Rosary School, Kolbe Academy Home School, Leaflet Missal, Pro Multis Media, Rafka Press, and Memoria Press.
I have to say I was impressed with the job they did and hope to use what we learned from them to create an equally helpful conference for the New England area.