Spring Enrichment, to be held this year at The College of Saint Rose in Albany May 17-19, is a series of courses, workshops and keynote addresses on various aspects of faith. Spring Enrichment is targeted to catechists, youth ministers, teachers and anyone in parish ministries and other aspects of Church life. This year's theme is, "Who's steering your boat?" It refers to who or what one follows to go in the right direction in life. See The Evangelist's print edition for a full course schedule and learn more at www.rcda.org/springenrichment or by contacting the diocesan Catholic Schools Office, (518) 453-6602 or spring.enrichment@rcda.org.

Priest's course: popes in focus

F05, "The Modern Papacy," May 18, 1 p.m., at The College of Saint Rose in Albany

"The Church is a dynamic institution," says Rev. Edward Kacerguis, pastor at Christ Sun of Justice parish in Troy. At this year's Spring Enrichment, Father Kacerguis will be teaching a course on the history of the Church and its popes, starting with Pope Pius IX in the mid-19th century.

"You really start at the end of the Vatican domination in Italy" in exploring this portion of more contemporary Church history, the pastor said.

Pope Pius IX organized the first Vatican Council, laying the groundwork for modernity in the Church, he noted.

Father Kacerguis has a lot of experience in this subject: Before he entered religious life, he spent a decade as a professor of history at what is now Hampton University in Virginia.

"The Church is bigger than Pope Francis," he told The Evangelist. "God is much more alive than we think He is in our lives. If you're going in and saying, 'This is the way it always was,' that's not going to help you. God has moved the Christian community to point B and C."

The Church is a living institution, the priest added, and it is vital to understand where that institution has been in order to appreciate where it is now.

His course will cover changes in the Church, the influences of the modern Church and the ways that various popes, their backgrounds and their personalities have affected the Church.

Father Kacerguis hopes that anyone interested in the fascinating period of time that encompasses the modern papacy will take his course.

"The Church has undergone two world wars," he added, so he'll also talk about the impact of World Wars I and II on the papacy, including shifts in the world economic order.

Though Father Kacerguis said that Pope Francis often preaches on themes that hearken back to earlier times, he noted that this won't be simply a course on Pope Francis. There were 10 popes between Pius IX and Francis.


Faith goes to the movies

C06, "Movies that have messages that engage people's faith," May 17, 4 p.m., at The College of Saint Rose in Albany

Randy Rivers can't go to the movies anymore just for his own entertainment.

The youth minister/confirmation coordinator is always looking for a way to connect what's on the screen to the youths he works with at Our Lady of the Annunciation parish in Queensbury and St. Clement's in Saratoga Springs. He searches for symbols or storylines he can use in his ministry.

A catechist for 20 years, Mr. Rivers has been using movies in his faith formation classes for a decade. When he began incorporating films into his ministry, he remembers students giving him blank stares or instantly forgetting the bland movies he showed them. Now, he connects their faith to images they see in films all the time.

"Put a message to a memory," he declares.

Mr. Rivers says that, afterward, the young people are reminded of Bible messages when they watch a movie on TV or talk about it with their friends. He also thinks it expedites the process of learning about faith: For example, most young people saw the movie "Frozen," so he was able to relate that film's plot to a lesson on morality by showing just a short clip in class, instead of the whole movie.

Mr. Rivers uses the character of Olaf from "Frozen" to represent the Holy Spirit to his students. Olaf first meets Elsa and Anna when they are youths, which similar to how the Holy Spirit is introduced to children during baptism. Olaf also serves as a guide for the sisters, as the Holy Spirit guides people's faith journeys.

Mr. Rivers has also used such movies as "Madagascar," "Happy Feet" and "Pinocchio" with his students.

In his course, he'll share with parents, youth ministers, teachers and others about how to connect more with children regarding faith.

Films are "a different way to reach kids," he said. "It may help them understand their faith a little bit more."

Sometimes, he said, adults aren't able to see the faith connection in movies as much as children, who quickly pick up on those messages.


Charismatic Catholics and Spanish community

H10, "Spanish: Como Un Nuevo Rentecostes La Renovacion Carismatica Catolica," May 18, 7 p.m., D10, "English: As a New Pentecost: Catholic Charismatic Renewal," May 17, 7 p.m., at The College of Saint Rose in Albany

Fausto Franco of Our Lady of the Americas Shrine Church in Albany (a mission of Blessed Sacrament parish) is eager to talk about the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

"I think that we are in a time where we can allow ourselves to be open to be amazed at what God can do," he told The Evangelist.

He's hoping to welcome more people into the enthusiastic movement of Catholics who hope to live Christianity more fully through the gifts of the Holy Spirit and evangelizing. He also wants to correct some misunderstandings about the charismatic community.

He'll do so at Spring Enrichment in a course being offered in both English and Spanish.

Mr. Franco told The Evangelist that there are monthly charismatic Masses in the Albany Diocese in both languages.

"If I could talk about it in three languages, I would," he joked. "But two is my limit."

Mr. Franco is compelled to introduce the practice to as many people as possible after his own personal experience with the charismatic movement. Charismatic Catholics in the Diocese speak of having a "personal experience of Pentecost through the basic elements of the Charismatic Renewal:" baptism in the Holy Spirit, commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, reception and use of the gifts of the Spirit, growth in community by living as brothers and sisters in love, growth in holiness and faith, growth in witnessing to Jesus Christ through personal testimony and the corporal works of mercy, and growth in the knowledge of Scripture.

"It's kind of like when you discover something," Mr. Franco remarked. "You don't want to hide it. You don't put a lamp under a bucket."