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Catholic Convention Features Remarkable Speakers

17 April 2006

Catholic Convention Features Remarkable International/Local Speakers

A former US Ambassador to the Holy See, parents of a wee baby whose birth defect prompted kiwis to prayerfully "storm heaven", and a trio of overseas priests with remarkable credentials and preaching abilities are set for the 21-23 April Eucharistic Convention in Auckland Showgrounds.

Even a near fatal fall in late March at Franz Jozef Glacier should not keep one of the speakers - Father Al Winshman - away. On 24 March he had a terrible fall, suffering four fractures in the pelvis, three cracks and one break at the centre, plus a cracked wrist.

The theme of the convention is "Accepting the Cross". The Friday-Sunday event is filled with talks, music and daily Mass. Speakers include:

The Hon R James Nicholson served as US Ambassador to the Holy See from 2001-2004, where he was an advocate for the elevation of human dignity, with emphasis on human trafficking, religious persecution and starvation. In 2003 Pope John Paul II named him a Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of Pius IX, the highest papal award given to a layman who isn't a head of state. He was born during the Great Depression in 1938, the third child of seven, and raised on a tenant farm in Iowa. Jim worked hard to earn an appointment to the US Military Academy. He graduated from West Point, served eight years as an Army Ranger and paratrooper and then 22 years in the Army Reserve, retiring as a full colonel.

Father Peter M Girard, OP, has much experience in international diplomacy and is often called upon to speak on topics of significance for the Church and the world. He was ordained to the holy priesthood in 1992. He holds a Masters Degree in Communications (MA) from American University and the Masters of Divinity (MDiv) and License in Sacred Theology (STL) from the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC. He received his Doctorate in Sacred Theology (STD) from the Pontifical University of St Thomas (Angelicum) in Rome in 2001. Fr Girard has given retreats and missions throughout the US and around the world. He is currently Chaplain to the Dominican Cloistered Nuns in West Springfield, Massachusetts and Professor of Homiletics at Holy Apostles Seminary. He recently began a Got Forgiveness? campaign to bring priests and laity back to Confession.

Father Greg Homeming, OCD, was born in Sydney and is an Australian of Chinese grandparents. After high school, he took degrees in Economics and Law at the University of Sydney. After working as a lawyer in a Sydney law firm for five years, he made a massive change in lifestyle. In 1985 he joined the Discalced Carmelite Friars, a contemplative Roman Catholic religious order. He completed his novitiate training in 1987 and went on to obtain his theology degree at the Melbourne College of Divinity and an MA in philosophy at the University of Melbourne. He was ordained in 1991. Fr Homeming is currently the Provincial Superior of the Discalced Carmelites in Australia and Oceania.

Father Al Winshman, SJ, from Boston, Massachusetts, frequently leads pilgrimages to Rome, the Holy Land, and various Marian apparition sites. Medjugorje is his "second home", as he has been there more than 40 times. He is an experienced retreat director and preaches all over the world. He has been recovering from his tragic fall and in hospital for several weeks.

Maia Rose Scott is the 'miracle baby' of the Eucharistic Convention. She won't be talking, but her parents Daniel and Melanie will. And they will be thanking countless Convention-goers who responded to last year's email SOS for prayers. Soon after Maia Rose was born she needed emergency surgery, and her family used the 'e-prayer' facility to ask people to "storm Heaven" throughout a testing time. Time moved on, operations were carried out, and Maia Rose will make her "public debut" at the Convention.

"The Eucharistic Convention is a remarkable event, and each one of the previous 12 annual conventions has been different. Last year's was enormously emotional, with Pope John Paul II going to God on Divine Mercy Sunday. This year's Convention will focus on joyfully carrying our own crosses - something that's hard to get your head around but central to the Catholic Faith," says organiser John Porteous.

The Eucharistic Convention is the largest lay-organised annual Catholic event. Bishop Patrick Dunn will serve as celebrant and homilist for the opening Mass on Friday night, 21 April, at Auckland Showgrounds.

Tickets are $40 for adults, $20 for seniors and students. Admission is free for those under age 15 accompanied by adults. Check www.eucharistic-convention.com for the latest news or ring 021 729 963 for ticketing information.


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