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Catholic ‘Retreat’ - Jewish Theme & Int’l & Local Speakers

22 March 2015
Media Release

Catholic ‘Retreat’ Features Strong Jewish Theme, Int’l and Local Speakers, Plus Music

A St Heliers couple who survived the Holocaust are part of a strong line-up of local and international speakers set for the 10-12 April Eucharistic Convention.

The annual, lay-sponsored Catholic event has attracted more than 30,000 people over the last 22 years. This year, for the first time, it will be held at Glendowie’s Sacred Heart College Auditorium.
Speakers include:

Bob and Freda Narev – The St Heliers Bay residents barely escaped the Nazis, yet made it to New Zealand, married, raised a family and each contributed so much to the Jewish and general communities that they received a QSM (Freda) and a NZOM (Bob). Bob, at age 9, (then “Narewczewitz”), and his mother were liberated in 1945 from the Nazi’s Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. In 1947, they sailed in a converted troop carrier from Switzerland to Auckland. Freda, from an Orthodox Jewish family in Poland, was hidden on a farm for three years “living as a Catholic.” Her sister brought her to New Zealand. Bob and Freda agreed to speak when the scheduled speaker, Inge Auerbacher, was unable to attend. Only then was it discovered that Inge and Bob had been in the same concentration camp as children.

Roy Schoeman is an amazing Catholic convert. He was born outside of New York City to Jewish parents who survived the Holocaust. He was a devout Jew, receiving his Jewish education and formation under some of the most prominent Rabbis in contemporary American Jewry. He went to MIT and then Harvard Business School, where he received an MBA magna cum laude. He joined the Harvard faculty and quickly became a ‘rock star’ professor of marketing, but he lost his faith. Midway through his Harvard teaching career, he had several supernatural experiences that eventually resulted in his totally unanticipated conversion to Catholicism. His first book for Ignatius Press,Salvation is from the Jews: The Role of Judaism in Salvation History, was a surprise best-seller.

Leah Libresco’s conversion story made CNN and MSNBC because, before her conversion, she was best known as an Ivy League atheist blogger. Leah was received into the Catholic Church in 2012, the year after she graduated from Yale. Today, she works as an editorial assistant at The American Conservative by day, and by night writes for about theology, philosophy and math. The self-proclaimed “geeky convert who picks fights in good faith” also writes about Catholicism and myriad spiritual matters on her “Unequally Yoked” blog. Leah was shocked to meet smart Christians at Yale. “My idea of a Christian was the Young Earth Creationists, and now I was meeting people who not only were converts to Russian Orthodoxy and math majors, but they thought the beauty of mathematics was evidence for God.”

Fr Shenan J Boquet travels the globe as president of Human Life International (HLI). The Louisiana priest has given hundreds of talks on issues ranging from the dignity of the human person and the nature of marriage, to social justice and moral theology. He is frequently a guest on Catholic media.

Claire Culwell learned six years ago that her birth mother was forced to have an abortion at age 13. While her twin was aborted, Claire was “missed”. Her young mother went on to deliver her and adopt her out. Learning of this gave Claire her own personal ministry.

Auckland Catholic Bishop Patrick Dunn will celebrate the Convention’s opening Mass on Friday night (10 April).
The weekend will be chocker with daily Mass, talks, prayer, fellowship and music. On Saturday, Monica Orbe, who was a quarter-finalist in New Zealand’s Got Talent in 2012, and her mother Theresa will perform.
Tickets are available at the door (Glendowie’s Sacred Heart College Auditorium): Adults -- $60 for Fri-Sat-Sun; Students and Senior Citizens $40; Under-15s free.
More information at


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