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2008 Bernardin Confernece
Understanding the Ecclesial Movements and Their Interaction with the Local Church in the U.S. Today

12th Annual Conference   |  February 29–March 2, 2008  |  Techny, Illinois

Conference Description:

Throughout history, movements have been a constant feature of church life, from the desert fathers and mothers who sought a more radical way to live their Christian faith to the followers of Francis, Dominic, or Ignatius. Our own day, too, is marked by an upsurge of developments broadly referred to as "Ecclesial Movements and New Communities."

Many of the ecclesial movements currently growing in the United States have the approval and support of the Holy See and some of the bishops. Other bishops are more cautious. Still others prefer not to associate with the movements at all. Ecclesial movements are even less known and understood at the parish level. Tensions have often marked the relations between these charismatic developments and the pastoral life of the institution.

The purpose of this conversation is to gain a deeper understanding of the Ecclesial Movements in the U.S. today, and how they interact with diocesan structures and parish life. By inviting into the conversation members of a few of the larger and more structured ecclesial movements, the conference will explore what has drawn US Catholics to participation in ecclesial movements and how their diocesan and parish commitments have been impacted by this experience.

The conference will also explore several dimensions of current scholarship that situates the growth of the Ecclesial Movements in the broad contours of church history, contemporary sociological data, as well as ecclesiological models and canon law structures.

On the basis of this foundation, conference discussions will not shy away from the tensions that have arisen between the Ecclesial Movements and diocesan structures or parish life. It will, however attempt to deepen the understanding between the parish and movement experience and highlight the ways they enrich the other.

Conference Goals:

  • to grow in understanding the ecclesial movements and new communities,
  • to directly and respectfully engage different positions about the relationship between ecclesial movements, new communities, and the local church in the United States,
  • to strengthen relationships within the church community by our worship, dialogue, and social interaction,
  • to elevate through dialogue further development and future directions in the conversation on the ecclesial movements and the Church in the United States.

Readings and Resources:


Historical Reading

  • "Charisms and Movements in the History of the Church", Fidel Gonzalez Fernandez, The Ecclesial Movements in the Pastoral Concern of the Bishops, Vatican City, 2000