By RANDY HAIN, Special To The Bulletin | Published March 15, 2012
Over 300 Catholic business and professional people from around the country participated in the fourth annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference. Held at St. Peter Chanel Church in Roswell on Jan. 28, the conference was sponsored by Integrated Catholic Life, the Aquinas Center of Theology at Emory University and Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C.
Speakers provided inspiration and practical tips for “Growing in Holiness,” the theme of this year’s conference. Featured speakers included Dr. Bill Thierfelder, president of Belmont Abbey College, and Becky Eldredge, partner program coordinator for Charis Ministries in Athens, a Jesuit ministry to those in their 20s and 30s. The special guest speaker was Order of Discalced Carmelites Mother Regina Marie, superior general of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. The keynote speaker was best-selling business author, Patrick Lencioni.
Thierfelder opened the day with his talk, “Holy Daring: Fearless Trust in the Public Square,” challenging attendees to embrace their Catholic faith more fully in every aspect of their lives. He drew on timeless lessons from St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher and St. Joan of Arc and current Catholic leaders, such as Archbishop Charles Chaput.
Eldredge followed with a talk titled, “Jesus Who Loves, Our Foundation.” Reflecting on a number of Ignatian resources, Becky helped the audience understand Jesus’s love for them amidst their daily interactions, transactions and work and how they can love like Jesus did in their daily lives.
Mother Regina Marie led off the afternoon session with her talk on “Developing a Deep Prayer Life for Those With Busy Schedules.” Her warm style was like an invitation; one could hear a pin drop as she led the audience through how to pray a thorough daily examen and find peace through a deepening relationship of prayer with Jesus Christ. The question and answer session that followed her talk demonstrated how very effectively she connected with the audience.
Keynote speaker Lencioni combined a warm sense of humor with the sharing of his faith journey as a Catholic. He provided rich insights and numerous takeaways for the audience who appreciated his humility and wit.
The feedback on the conference was overwhelmingly positive and the audience was fully engaged in the talks, table discussions and question and answer sessions.
John Riordan, head of Harvest Technology Group, said, “The 2012 Atlanta Catholic Business Conference was a wonderful investment in my faith journey. I was blown away by the power of the speakers—particularly Mother Regina Marie, whose talk on prayer has had a profound impact on the way I approach my prayer life. The opportunity to meet with like-minded Catholic business leaders from around the Atlanta area was also very rewarding.”
The foundation has been firmly laid for continued conferences, expanded offerings and exploring new and relevant topics important to the Atlanta Catholic business and professional community. The annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference was established with a focus on providing a faith-focused forum for Catholic business people to gather for inspiration, knowledge, networking and fellowship. The conference is directed to all Christians, especially the Catholic business and professional community, who wish to more deeply understand the role of faith in the workplace. The mission is to invest deeply in attendees’ knowledge and understanding of how to integrate their lives and let their Christian faith guide their actions in the secular business world.