Spiritual tone set at technology conference

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A Mass celebrated by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde and a keynote talk by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia marked the start of the annual Diocesan Information Systems Conference Aug. 1, this year hosted by the Arlington Diocese at the Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel.

With speakers, workshops and networking opportunities, the conference's mission is to "promote the integration of technology with the work of the church," and this year's conference focus was on information and security.

Addressing information professionals from the United States and Canada, Bishop Loverde spoke on the "fundamental" importance of having a personal relationship with Jesus. This personal relationship is made evident through regular prayer, witnessing to Jesus in daily life and evangelizing, the bishop said.

Each person brings God's love and the light of God's truth to others in many ways, including "by using new technologies available to us," the bishop said.

Quoting from a radio address given by Pope Benedict XVI to Internet bloggers in April 2010, Bishop Loverde told the gathered technology specialists: "Without fear we must set sail on the digital sea, facing into the deep with the same passion that has governed this ship of the church for 2,000 years. … We want to qualify ourselves by living in the digital world with a believer's heart, helping to give a soul to the Internet's incessant flow of communication."

In his keynote speech, Scalia said faithful Catholics must stay strong when faced with the popular belief that all Christians are "poorly educated, easily led … and foolish" because of their beliefs.

"(St. Paul) quite entirely expected - he assumed - that the wise of the world would regard Christians as fools," Scalia said. "And from the beginning until now, that expectation has not been disappointed."

He encouraged those gathered to look to the faithful example of St. Thomas More, one of the patron saints of the Arlington Diocese, who gave everything - including his own life - for the defense of the church.

"It has been my hope to impart to those already wise in Christ the courage to have their wisdom regarded as stupidity," Scalia said. "Are we thought to be fools? No doubt. But as St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, 'we are fools for Christ's sake.'"

As for being easily led and childish, Scalia said Christ described His followers as sheep and said they wouldn't get to heaven "unless we became like little children."

Both Bishop Loverde and Scalia were presented with awards following the morning's events, and those present gave Scalia a standing ovation. Les Maiman, attending the conference from the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference headquartered in San Angelo, Texas, said Mass started the week off with the right tone.

"It's a privilege and quite appropriate as a Catholic organization that we join first and foremost around the Eucharist," he said. "Then, empowered by the Eucharist, we can go forward and try to apply our minds and our natural talents, informed by, hopefully, being present to the Spirit."

Ralph De Souza, assistant comptroller for the Archdiocese of Toronto, said Mass and the talk properly demonstrated the conference's information-based, yet spiritual, objectives.

"(The focus is) not just technology, but it's technology within the church, and how it allows us as Catholics to use technology for our faith," De Souza said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2012