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Catholic Vancouver May 16, 2018

Annual Marian conferences not a thing of the past

By Agnieszka Ruck

Conference organizer Ethelyn David is already planning Marian conferences for 2019 and 2020.

Marian conferences are coming back to life in the Lower Mainland.

Six international speakers, including an exorcist, a rock musician, and a pastor who has been called “the Robin Williams of priests,” are coming to Richmond May 26.

“I hope to light the fire in people and have conversions,” said conference organizer and Immaculate Conception parishioner Ethelyn David.

There have been high-level Marian conferences in the Archdiocese of Vancouver’s past. A conference titled “Mary, Mother of the Church” attracted thousands of Catholics in the 1990s, and Mother Teresa’s visit to Vancouver put a special spotlight on Our Lady in 1988. But it has been a long time since Mary has been featured in a local conference in a big way.

So, when the Toronto-based Ave Maria Centre for Peace asked David to put on a Marian conference on the west coast, she heartily agreed. “It’s been a labour of love,” she said.

The daughter of well-known local charismatic figure Lennie David, she said while there are big, annual conferences for charismatics, other Catholic groups may feel underserved.

“Not everybody in the archdiocese is charismatic,” David said. “They have great speakers and great attendance, but there’s nothing for the Marian people,” at least, not since the 1990s.

Special guests at the upcoming Marian conference will include Father Vincent Lambert, the exorcist for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Father Bill Halbing, an animated preacher from the Archdiocese of Newark, and Michael Russel O’Brien, an American rock musician who underwent a profound conversion after visiting a Marian shrine in 1988.

Also speaking will be Patrick Campbell, a father of a blended family of nine who has been featured on ETWN and Lighthouse Media sharing personal stories about divorce, financial hardship, illness, and the power of faith.

Speakers will also include faces very familiar in the Archdiocese of Vancouver: Father John Horgan, pastor of St. Pius X Parish and expert in moral theology and relics, and, of course, Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB.

The Marian conference will be held at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel in Richmond Saturday, May 26, and include adoration, confession, and closing Mass. David hopes for a full house.

She already has plans to bring back the Marian conference as an annual occurrence: a venue and speakers are booked for a second conference May 25, 2019, and there are plans for another in 2020.