Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Inspirational Speakers Highlight 2005 Eucharistic Congress

Published May 26, 2005

Eucharistic Congress: Friday, June 3


The young adult track, “Revive!” for those 18-40 years old, single and married, will call young people from around the archdiocese to “explore the mystery” together, beginning at 7:30 p.m. with music and closing at 11 p.m. Speakers for this track include:

Dr. Jorge Valdés, the former head of U.S. operations for the Medellin drug cartel, one of the largest organized crime webs in the world, will speak about his commitment to the Catholic faith and his Coming Clean Ministries organization.

Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, the vice president for mission effectiveness at the University of Steubenville, Ohio, will share his invitation to young people for a dynamic personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Father Pivonka travels the country with his message.

Chris and Michelle Benzinger, who are both missionaries and authors and have now settled in Georgia to lead a LIFE TEEN camp in Tiger, will share their views on spiritual formation and the Eucharist.

Healing Mass and Service

This year’s Eucharistic Congress has a new offering: the healing Mass and service, which will also take place on Friday evening and will include well-known speakers in the area of healing and spirituality. The track will include adoration in the chapel throughout the evening, and the main part of the track will begin at 7 p.m. with praise and worship, followed by Mass at 7:30 p.m., followed by speakers. The healing service track will end with a Benediction at 11:15 p.m. Speakers in this track include:

Alan Ames, a visionary, evangelist, healer and stigmatist from Australia, will speak and co-lead the healing service. He will share the hope and blessing of his sacramental relationship of love with God. Ames is also one of the speakers for the General track on Saturday, June 4.

Sister Briege McKenna, OSC, was born in Ireland and entered the Sisters of St. Clare at the age of fifteen. After coming to Tampa, Fla., as a teacher, she became crippled by the onset of rheumatoid arthritis. At the age of 24, she was miraculously healed during the celebration of the Eucharist and some time later received, in prayer, the gift of healing for which she has become so widely known. In 1974, again during prayer, she was given a deep spiritual insight into the mystery of the call to priesthood. Since then, bishops and priests in many parts of the world have invited her to speak and minister at their retreats and conferences. Her book, “Miracles Do Happen” has been translated into many languages throughout the world. Since 1985 Sister Briege has been ministering to priests with Father Kevin J. Scallon, CM.

Father Kevin J. Scallon, CM, is a priest of the Vincentian Community who was born in Ireland. Following his ordination in 1961, he ministered in England for three years and in Nigeria for six years. In 1970, after graduating from Catholic University of America, he was appointed as spiritual director at All Hallows Seminary in Dublin, Ireland. In 1976, Father Scallon started the “Intercession for Priests” in Dublin, a month-long retreat where priests could come to pray for the spiritual renewal of the priesthood. In 1982, he was appointed director of missions and retreats for the Vincentian Community. In 1985, he began full-time ministry to priests with Sister Briege McKenna.

Eucharistic Congress: Saturday, June 4

On Saturday, June 4, the doors will open at 7:30 a.m., and a procession into the hall will begin at 8:30 a.m. Adoration and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament will begin at 10 a.m., with Bishop F. Joseph Gossman of the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C., serving as homilist for the morning liturgy. Following Bishop Gossman’s remarks, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, as the spiritual head of the Atlanta Archdiocese, will welcome all those assembled to the Congress.

General Track

Jeff Cavins, a convert to Catholicism, received a master’s degree in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. Cavins until recently was the host of a nationally broadcast show on the Starboard Radio Network entitled “Morning Air” and is the adult formation minister at the Church of St. Paul in Ham Lake, Minn. He is co-author of the “Amazing Grace” book series.

Alex Jones was a Pentecostal/Evangelical minister for 25 years before converting to Catholicism. He has since led his family and many members of his former congregation to Catholicism. Jones is on the Evangelization Team for the Archdiocese of Detroit and is in his fifth year at Sacred Heart Seminary as he prepares to become a Catholic deacon.

Alan Ames was born in London in 1953. In his youth, he was a member of a motorcycle gang and went along a path full of violence and alcohol. The turning point of his life happened in 1993 when Ames saw his past life displayed before him and experienced how his sins and wrong ways had hurt God. With the Lord’s help, Ames came back to the sacraments and to the church and changed his hatred and pain into love. He is known as a healer and an evangelist.

Tom Monaghan, best known as the founder of Domino’s Pizza and former owner of the Detroit Tigers baseball franchise, is currently devoting his attention full time to nonprofit endeavors, including the Ave Maria Foundation, for which he serves as chairman of the board. Monaghan established the foundation in 1983 to focus on a variety of Catholic charities, with a special focus on Catholic higher education.

Jim Caviezel is an actor whose film credits include “The Count of Monte Cristo,” “The Thin Red Line” and “Angel Eyes.” He is best known for his role as Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ.” Raised as a devout Catholic, he says he was not always faithful as he matured but felt Mary guiding him back to his spiritual roots. His adult faith has centered on the Blessed Mother and the rosary.

The Schindler family—Robert (Bob) Schindler, Mary Schindler, Robert (Bobby) Schindler Jr., and Suzanne Schindler Carr—are the parents, brother and sister of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, the young woman who was at the center of an international right-to-life controversy in recent years. They will be sharing the importance of Terri receiving the Eucharist before her death and how the Eucharist has sustained them through their family tragedy.

Russ Spencer, FOX5 news anchor, will be the emcee for the general track. Spencer has worked for over 20 years in television. He has won Associated Press awards for spot and general news reporting. He and his wife and children belong to St. Brigid Church, Alpharetta.

Hispanic Track

Father José Duván González was ordained to the priesthood on June 1, 1996, in his hometown parish in Medellin, Colombia, and his first assignment in the Archdiocese of Atlanta was at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Atlanta, where he served as a parochial vicar from 1996-2000. Since 2000 he has served as priest-in-charge of San Felipe de Jesús Mission. In January 2003 he also was appointed as director of the archdiocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry and is currently working with representatives around the archdiocese to develop a local pastoral plan for Hispanic ministry. In 2003, he was named a Vicar for Clergy. He is also spiritual director in the Spanish Cursillo movement and of the “Escuela de la Cruz” spiritual movement for men.

Father Benjamin Bravo-Perez is a pastor, professor at the Pontifical University of Mexico, professor of the Center of Superior Religious Studies, founder and member of Space for Urban Pastoral, and assessor to the Pastoral Vicariate of the Archdioceses of Mexico. His publications include “Vocabulary of Popular Religiosity” and “One Hundred Words To Evangelize a City,” and he served as coordinator of the series “Urban Pastoral” (six volumes) and “The Kingdom of God, Process of Conversion” 1, 2 and 3.

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio attended Pontifical North American College in Vatican City and was ordained on May 19, 1977. He attended the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and earned further degrees in theology and in canon law. He also attended the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, an institute that prepares priests for service in apostolic nunciatures and delegations. From 1983-87, he was the secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. He was the secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in Asunción, Paraguay, from 1987-90. His duties took him to Rome from 1990-2001, when he was an official of the Secretariat of State, Section for Relations with States. In that capacity, he was secretary for Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who was the Secretary of State for the late Pope John Paul II. He also served as desk officer for Central America. In 2001, Archbishop Broglio became the Apostolic Nuncio in the Dominican Republic with the responsibilities of Apostolic Delegate to Puerto Rico. He was also ordained titular Archbishop of Amiternum at that time.

Father Elkin Fernando Alvarez Botero is currently the local secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in Bogotá, Colombia. His studies include philosophy at the Diocesan Seminary of Our Lady, Marinilla; theology at the National Seminary “Cristo Sacerdote”; and license in biblical theology at Gregorian Pontifical University, Rome; and a course in social doctrine of the Church at the Catholic University of the East in Rionegro, Antioquia, Colombia.

Msgr. Otto Garcia is Vicar General, Moderator of the Curia, and Secretary for Communications for the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y. Born in La Habana, Cuba, he currently serves on the following boards: Board of Directors of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Brooklyn (Corporate Member), the Board of Trustees at St. John’s University, the Presbyteral Council, Diocese of Brooklyn, Secretary of the Board of Consultors to the Diocesan Bishop, and the Canon Law Society of America.

Angel “Cucho” Garcia will be the emcee for the Hispanic Track. A member of Regnum Christi, Cursillo, the Hispanic Secretariat—Leader School Section, Spanish Choir “Viva el Señor,” parish Ultreya, and a parishioner at St. Benedict Church, Duluth, Garcia served as the master of ceremonies for the Hispanic track for the 2004 Eucharistic Congress.

Youth Track

Mike Patin uses energy, humor and stories to affirm the goodness of God’s presence while inviting others (and himself) to take the “next step” in the journey with God. He has been a speaker for approximately 600 groups in over 60 dioceses, ranging from groups of 10 to 10,000, and he has been the keynote speaker for regional and national youth events, including the National Catholic Youth Conference, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Youth Day and the University of Notre Dame’s Vision program. He has served as a high school religion teacher, campus minister and assistant coach. He also served in the CYO/Youth Ministry Office for the Archdiocese of New Orleans for close to 13 years. He has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Notre Dame Graduate School of Theology in New Orleans and has been a trainer for the Center for Ministry Development’s Youth Leader program. He served as a member of the board of directors of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry.

Michelle Benzinger and her husband Chris are also speakers for the young adult track, “Revive!,” to be held on Friday evening, June 3. They have been missionaries for the past several years with Trinity World Missions, serving first in Europe (the Netherlands and Austria) and then in Mexico. Authors of a 10-week Bible/character study designed for men and women to study together, they are currently writing a women’s Bible study on the Eucharist.

Mark Hart is a man on a mission: spreading the Gospel. Affectionately known as the “Bible Geek,” Hart passionately shares the Good News with everyone he meets. Hart is a former teen, CORE member, and youth minister and now proudly serves as vice president of LIFE TEEN, overseeing Evangelization and Media. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and author of three books, Hart does creative work on videos and written resources that are known internationally. In his free time, he travels the globe leading conferences, retreats, missions and trainings for teens and adults alike.

Janelle, the award-winning French Canadian chanteuse, was chosen from entrants from around the world to not only sing and record the 2002 World Youth Day theme song but also to perform with her band 26 times throughout the six-day event in Toronto and for a four-day stint in Ottawa prior to that. Janelle and her current band, ONE80, have been touring throughout Canada, seeking out and accepting every opportunity to grow in their art and in their faith.

Kid Track

This year’s Kid Track will be held for children entering kindergarten through fifth grade on Saturday, June 4, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The program will include lunch. Through a variety of dynamic, fun-filled activities, the children will discover Christ in the Eucharist. This mission will lead them on a sensational scavenger hunt in which they will unravel clues, create crazy crafts, and so on. “Good News Clues” is a high-energy, out-of-your-seat program. The mission is to help children cultivate a deeper friendship with Christ through a variety of dynamic interactive activities focusing on prayer, Scripture and Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist. Activities will include hands-on faith and fun activities like skits, interactive music and praise sessions, small-group teaching sessions, crafts and a virtue campaign.

Registration for the Kid Track begins at 7:30 a.m. Parents can download and complete the registration form, which is available at, before arriving at the Eucharistic Congress. Parents pick up their children before the closing Mass, which starts at 5:30 p.m.

Vietnamese Track

The Vietnamese Catholic Community of the archdiocese is invited to attend a program in Vietnamese during the Eucharistic Congress from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Speaking at this year’s Vietnamese track will be Father Anthony Chinh Dao, OP, a member of the Southern Dominican province, St. Martin de Porres. Before moving to Washington, D.C., as executive director of the Office for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he was pastor, seminary formation director, teacher and campus minister. He has published two books and written many articles on culture and inculturation in English and Vietnamese.

Track for the Deaf

At this year’s Congress, a track is planned to meet the needs of persons in the Catholic community who are deaf or hearing impaired. The program will run from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Presenting at the Deaf track will be Father Michael Depcik, OSFS, who works as a missionary for the International Catholic Deaf Association and has traveled all over the country to give retreats for deaf Catholics. One of Father Depcik’s goals for the NCOD is to strengthen its advocacy of deaf Catholics in the church. He currently serves as the president of the board of directors of the National Catholic Office for the Deaf.

Closing Mass

The Eucharistic Congress will conclude with the celebration of Mass at 5:30 p.m. The principal celebrant of the closing Mass will be Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory and concelebrating with him will be Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop-emeritus John F. Donoghue, Bishop Robert J. Baker of the Diocese of Charleston. S.C., and Bishop Peter J. Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C.