In November, faithful from the west coast of the United States congregated once more for the fourth annual Society of Saint Pius X Conference in Portland, Oregon.
This year’s theme addressed the mystery of vocations, and included speakers from almost every kind of religious order. As a result, many those who attended the conference were young people interested in learning more about the religious life.
The event began at 8:00 AM with a High Mass celebrated by Fr. Patrick Summers, who is currently the prior of the Immaculate Conception Church in Post Falls, Idaho, and sung by the Our Lady of Fatima parish choir. After the Mass, the attendees enjoyed a cup of coffee and a chance to visit with each other while the staff and those organizing the event readied the former makeshift chapel into a conference hall. When all was ready, those present sat down and partook in a splendid breakfast.
Following the meal, the attendees gave their attention to Fr. Loop, the principal of Immaculate Conception Academy in Post Falls, Idaho, who commenced the conference proceedings. After some preliminary remarks on the topic of religious vocations, Fr. Loop introduced Fr. Summers as the first speaker.
Fr. Summers’ presentation was largely dedicated to demystifying the mystery of the religious vocation, and it also served to illuminate certain aspects and dispel certain illusions that pertain to the religious life. This kind of elucidation is invaluable in these times due to the misgivings modern society paints about the three evangelical counsels and the like.
After Fr. Summers’s remarks, Fr. Loop introduced the next speaker, Fr. Elias of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Benedictine Monastery in Silver City, New Mexico, known to all traditional coffee drinkers for their famous Abbey Roast. In his talk, however, Fr. Elias showed that monastic life is not just about making coffee and praying—he showed that, in a way, contemplative life is the most active of all forms of religious life, in that prayer from the monasteries is a necessary component of Christianity and draws down grace for the entire world. He also elucidated the general aspects of contemplative religious life, something that is largely unknown to the hectic modern society of today.
After Fr. Elias’s talk, the attendees were invited to partake in the lunch buffet, take a breath of fresh air on the patio overlooking the golf course, or simply chat about the contents of the previous two presentations.
Following lunch, Fr. Loop ascended the podium once more to introduce the next set of speakers, who were representatives of three different religious orders for women. Of these, the first was the Franciscan Sisters from Kansas, represented by Sr. Mary Louise of that order. Her talk centered around the founder and ideals of the Franciscan Order and also included details concerning the daily life of the congregation. After her talk concluded, Sr. Mary Gemma of the Sisters of the SSPX provided an insight into the mission and the history of that order, which was directly founded by Archbishop Lefebvre. In addition, she spoke about the life and purpose of the Carmelites, who were unable to attend due to their strict adherence to the cloister.
The final speaker, Sr. Mary Paul of the Dominican Sisters, talked about the Dominican Order in general after showing a video that helped the audience get a glimpse of the activities of the Dominican Sisters in Post Falls, Idaho.
Fr. Loop followed these informative talks with concluding remarks on the symposium and officially closed it with a prayer at around 4:00 PM.
Special thanks to the speakers and religious orders for dedicating their time to this event. Also, thanks to the Columbia Edgewater Golf and Country Club for again hosting this event (and again allowing the use of incense and candles inside the building). Lastly, thanks to Fr. Loop, Fr. Brucciani, and the Our Lady of Fatima Holy Name Society for coordinating the event.
Sources: Our Lady of Fatima Church, Portland, OR / sspx.org