Call to Action's national conference will take place Nov. 9-11 at the Wyndham San Antonio Riverwalk. Credit: Courtesy / Call to Action

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This November, San Antonio will host hundreds of Catholics who are advocating for change in their Church.

For more than 40 years, Call To Action’s National Conference has been a gathering place for people committed to LGBTQ equality, women’s ordination, racial justice, and lay empowerment in the Roman Catholic Church. Founded in response to the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ 1976 Call To Action conference, Call To Action is now home to the largest annual conference of Catholics committed to justice in their Church.

The theme of the 2018 Call To Action conference, Santuario – Resistencia – Sacramento” (Sanctuary – Resistance – Sacrament), was chosen to be particularly relevant to the problems facing Catholics in the United States.

“As faithful, progressive Catholics, we wanted to take a stand against the exclusion, violence, and hatred that has marked both our country and Church in recent years,” said Zach Johnson, Call To Action’s executive director. “We are proudly proclaiming that when our country’s leaders threaten deportation, we’re called to offer sanctuary. When our bishops demand unthinking obedience, we’re called to resistance. When the powerful preach hatred, we’re called to proclaim the sacramental power of love.”

This year’s conference will feature three powerful keynote speakers, each of whom will address one of the three conference themes:

  • Elvira Arellano is an immigrant rights and sanctuary movement activist who became a symbol for the rights of undocumented people after taking sanctuary in Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago. Ms. Arellano will be speaking on the theme of “sanctuary.”
  • Heidi Schlumpf is an author and national correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and recently published a biography on Sister Elizabeth Johnson. Ms. Schlumpf will be speaking on the topic of “resistance.”
  • Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, PhD, is an ethicist and activist-theologian whose work on the politics of radical difference is deeply shaped by their identity as a Transqueer Latinix. Dr. Henderson-Espinoza will be speaking on the topic of “sacrament.”

The conference will also feature 25 workshops and sessions on themes such as environmental justice, feminist theology, and immigrant rights. Members will also have opportunities to participate in inclusive Catholic liturgies, take part in a social justice action in support of immigrant families, and connect with a diverse community of progressive Catholics from across the country.

For many returning conference attendees, it is this community that makes Call To Action so special. “Attending Call To Action’s conference is a highlight of the year for my husband and me because we connect with Catholics whose values we share,” said Mary Jane Stevenson from Dallas. “It gives hope in reminding us that we are part of a large movement to bring into being a truly renewed Body of Christ. Everyone is included, and more importantly, welcomed.”

This is the first year that Call To Action’s National Conference has been held in Texas. Martha Sanchez, of McAllen, said it’s an ideal location for the conference and is eager to show San Antonio to her friends at Call To Action.

“San Antonio is a great place to savor Mexican-American culture,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing this mix of cultures in our liturgy, which is always a highlight of conference for me.”

Call To Action’s National Conference will be held Nov. 9-11 at the Wyndham San Antonio Riverwalk. Newcomers are welcome, and people can register online or by calling 815-299-7158.

Christine Haider-Winnett

Christine Haider-Winnett

Christine Haider-Winnett serves as communications manager for Call To Action.