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 | By Joey Reistroffer

Marian Eucharistic Conference: Bring the children home

“Let the little children come to me …” Jesus once told his Apostles. And Bishop Jacques Fabre-Jeune, CS, has taken up that call from Christ, imploring the faithful in the diocese to bring God into the hearts of their children.

At last year's Marian Eucharistic Conference in Greenville, Bishop Fabre and other notable speakers, like Dr. Edward Sri, spoke at the 10th annual event. 

“If we enjoy what we celebrate, they will come,” Bishop Fabre told the 400 folks who attended the conference last October. “Show young people that you love the Lord.”

Then he showed the crowd how to do that during the opening Mass by calling up a young altar server and casually chatting with him during his sermon. The boy's name was Jack, and the conversation started like this:

“Jack, I’m Jacques,” the bishop joked. By the end of the sermon, Jack was comfortable and smiling.

So simple and nothing profound, but a fun introduction to help the youngster feel more at ease while on the spot.

One woman at the conference marveled at the exchange, calling the bishop "user friendly." Perhaps we all need to be a little more user friendly when it comes to teaching our children.

“It’s easy to keep the faith,” the bishop said, “but with young people, we have to spread the faith. I would love to see at the end of my ministry that we have 100,000 young people active in our Church. I’m asking now.”

And he’s leading the way by reminding everybody that, “Here, we are all one family.”

People had come to the conference from California, Ohio, Washington, New Jersey, St. Lucia, Venezuela and elsewhere to learn a little bit more about their faith, and especially about the Eucharist.

“We are all baptized,” Bishop Fabre said. “We have all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If we use them every single day, we will not forget them.”

And if we use those gifts every single day to teach our youth, we will grow closer in our universal family.

The 2023 Marian Eucharistic Conference will be held at the Greenville
Convention Center Oct. 13-14. Visit to register.

Sometimes, however, parents are too busy or too exhausted to take the time to teach their children, according to Father Christopher Smith, pastor of Prince of Peace Church in Taylors, who also spoke at the event. “There are so many things competing for our attention."

And sometimes parents don’t know enough about their faith to pass it along.

“There are many Catholics who grew up not reading the Bible,” Father Smith said. “You can’t give what you don’t have.”

So he encouraged parents to delve deep into the Scriptures and Bishop Fabre agreed.

“If you’re looking for spiritual wisdom, where do you go? The Bible,” the bishop added.

Father Smith also urged parents to take their children to Mass.

“We gotta get them there,” he explained. “The children who go to Mass on Sunday, they walk in like they own the place,” because they know they belong.

“Yes, you are wanted. Yes, you are loved by God,” the priest said. “If they don’t know that, then that is when they begin to have problems."

To avert those problems, he said we must get involved early in the spiritual life of our children.

“Be a part of the community of faith,” he added. “We are signed, sealed and delivered by Christ to set the world on fire for Christ. Let’s do this together.”

That resonated with Marc D’Angelo, a youth minister at Precious Blood of Christ Church on Pawleys Island.

“Our call is much bigger than we can fathom,” he said, and he is starting from a solid foundation.

D'Angelo said the youth in his ministry believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

“They believe it. But at the same time, we can all believe in it more deeply. This conference drives it home. It allows the Holy Spirit to work in my heart,” he said.

D’Angelo added that he will take the lessons from the conference back to his youth group, along with the inspiration and the zeal.

“As adults, our faith gets lax," he said. "We lack the faith because we let the world take precedence,” and this conference can re-light that fire. “I don’t know when I’m reaching a soul,” D’Angelo said. “I let God flow through me.”

D’Angelo wants to spread the faith to children and bring them to Christ, and he wants to do it in the same fashion as Bishop Fabre.

“Be humble, but pray big,” D’Angelo said.

Simple. That should bring a smile to the face of this “user-friendly” bishop.

Joseph Reistroffer is a long-time writer who teaches religious education classes at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Spartanburg. Email him at