Diocese of Lake Charles
LAKE CHARLES — Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, an internationally renowned speaker, author, and preacher — known around the world as the “Dynamic Deacon” — told a group of nearly 80 catechists attending “Veritas 2021” that no matter where he travels in the world, young people tell him they want to hear the truth, and they are not hearing it.
The Diocese of Portland deacon was the keynote speaker for the local faith formation conference held Saturday, Sept. 25, at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Family Life Center. The annual event is hosted by the Office of Adult Education in the Diocese of Lake Charles. Veritas is Latin for truth.
“Bishop (Robert) Barron has been telling us the age that a young person makes the decision ‘I am no longer Catholic’ is 13. Effectively, they leave the faith before they leave your house,” the deacon said. “That’s a problem.”
There is a serious disconnect between what happens in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and everyday life “out there,” said Deacon Burke-Sivers. “The encounter with Christ can change everything, but so many of our young people don’t understand this,” he said.
When speaking to high school students, the deacon said he does not hold back when preaching the truths of the Catholic Church.
He mentioned a time in Bethlehem, Penn., when he was speaking in a parish but was not scheduled to talk to high school students. After hearing one of his homilies, the school principal asked him to speak to an assembly of 900 students.
After the deacon spoke for 90 minutes about Mass, within an hour after his talk, 300 students were following his Twitter Feed.
“Young people want the truth. The culture today is trying to stretch the truth into whatever you want it to be,” the deacon said, citing examples of transgenderism and the redefinition of marriage. “So many of our young people are fans of Jesus and not followers because they don’t know the truth.”
“Our jobs as parents, as catechists, as priests, deacons, and bishops, is to lay a foundation upon which the house of the Lord in their lives will stand strong and firm,” the deacon continued. “We can’t do that if we are not teaching them the truth, in love.”
“Jesus held nothing back with his love for us on the cross. He gave everything, and that is exactly what he expects from us,” said the deacon. “Truth is a person, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who said, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.’”
Ahead of his introduction of the keynote speaker, Bishop Glen John Provost emphasized the importance of the book, “The Catechism of the Catholic Church,” as an indispensable resource for catechists to have in their library, along with the Bible.
“When questions arise, we should consult the ‘Catechism’ before we consult the media,” Bishop Provost said. “When fundamental teachings are attacked, we should seek the correct answer by utilizing this rich resource.”
“The truths of our faith are a most prized possession,” the bishop continued. “We must courageously live by the truth as revealed by God in Jesus Christ and taught by His Church down through the centuries.”
Following Deacon Burke-Sivers' keynote address, several break-out sessions were offered including:
- Architecture and the Eucharist, presented by Father Andy DeRouen, parochial vicar in the parishes of St. Theodore in Moss Bluff and St. Pius X in Ragley
- The Family and Sunday, presented by Blaine and Denise Wyninger, co-directors for the Offices of Family Life, Marriage, and Pro-life ministries
- Continuity in the Liturgy through History until Present, presented by Father Samuel Bond, Director of the Office of Liturgy, and parochial vicar at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
- Sanctifying the Whole Day with the Liturgy of the Hours, presented by Sister Mary Benedicta Maier, RSM, co-director for the Offices of Family Life, Marriage, and Pro-life ministries
- Confession and the Eucharist, presented by Father Michael Beverung, parochial vicar at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church in Sulphur
- Building a Civilization of Love: A Catholic Response to Racism, presented by Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers
A Mass was celebrated by Father DeRouen in the family life center gymnasium before the deacon’s keynote presentation.
For more information on Deacon Burke-Sivers, who also serves as co-host of the Eternal Word Television Network’s radio program, “Morning Glory,” and the weekly broadcast, “Living Stones” on Mater Dei Radio, visit https://deaconharold.com.