This year, over 170 people from seven different states attended the SSPX West Coast Conference in Portland, Oregon on November 9th, 2019.
The conference had broad appeal to every Catholic living in the world today, whether a young adult just entering the world or those who have already long witnessed its troubled state. The talks were pertinent to all who wished to understand better how to approach life in our modern world.
The event began at the Columbia Edgewater Country Club at 8:00 AM with a High Mass celebrated by Fr. Christopher Pedersen and sung by the combined choirs of the Our Lady of Fatima and Immaculate Conception parishes. After the Mass, the attendees had the chance to meet and visit each other, enjoying a cup of hot coffee as the staff and those organizing the event converted the area used for a chapel into a conference hall. When all was ready, those present seated themselves and partook in an excellent breakfast.
Following the meal, the attendees gave their attention to Father Jonathan Loop, principal of the Immaculate Conception Church and Academy, who commenced the conference proceedings. Fr. Loop encouraged those present to set aside a certain day in the following week as a day of reparation since the attendees had received a dispensation from its observation that Saturday. Then, after a few preliminary remarks on the topic of Catholic life in a modern world, Fr. Loop introduced as the first speaker Fr. Yves le Roux, the Rector of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Dillwyn, Virginia.
Fr. le Roux’s presentation focused on the assaults and degradation of the fatherhood in today’s society. He showed that the attacks on the father as the authority and head of the family are truly attacks on the family unit itself, touching briefly on the role of the mother as the heart of the home as well. He explained that while the mother is the protector of the children, it is the father that guides them from the home and introduces them to the world. From this he continued on to show that without a true father figure, families and ultimately society itself will crumble.
After Fr. le Roux’s remarks, Fr. Loop introduced the next speaker, Fr. Pedersen, principal of the Our Lady of Sorrows Academy in Phoenix, Arizona. In his talk, Fr. Pedersen addressed the topic of technology and modern-day use of it. Beginning his talk with a few eye-opening statistics, Fr. Pedersen demonstrated today’s worldwide lack of restraint when using technology, especially in the cases of many children and their parents. He showed that such usage causes the mixing of the real and the unreal. Moving on, he spoke of social media and video games, pointing out the intentionally-addicting features that belong to both. Finally, Fr. Pedersen encouraged his listeners to limit their use of technology and ensure that they are in control of this oftentimes useful tool and not vice versa.
After Fr. Pedersen’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. Taking place after the meal was a Rosary led by Fr. Trevor Burfitt, prior of Our Lady of the Angels Church in Arcadia, California.
Following the Rosary, Fr. Loop ascended the podium once more to introduce the last speaker, Fr. John McFarland, prior of Our Lady of Sorrows Church. Fr. McFarland’s presentation ended the day with an analysis on the meaning and purpose of education. He showed that education is more than the simple preparation for a job since it is the forming of a person. Additionally, he spoke on the dangers of public school, emphasizing that a child must have a Catholic education and the guidance of a priest. He also pointed out that education must be proactive and cannot be done solely through prayer. Finally, he stressed the sacredness of the institution of education, explaining that there is only a single chance on the part of the educators and parents to do it well.
Fr. Loop followed these informative talks with concluding remarks on the symposium, and the conference officially closed at around 2:50 PM.
Special thanks to the speakers for dedicating their time and energy to the conference. Also, thanks to the Columbia Edgewater Golf and Country Club for again hosting the event. Lastly, thanks to Fr. Loop and the Our Lady of Fatima Holy Name Society for coordinating the sixth annual SSPX West Coast Conference.