8:30 am     Registration & Continental Breakfast
9:15 am     Welcome
9:45 am     Session One
11:15 am    Session Two
12:30 pm    Lunch
1:30 pm      Session Three
3:00 pm      Keynote Address
4:00 pm      Liturgy

Concludes with a wine & cheese reception

Cost: $50 per person (includes lunch); $55 for registrations received after January 27.

Please note: We cannot guarantee lunch for those registrations received after the online registration deadline.

If you missed the online registration deadline, you can still register at the door.

Faith Odyssey 2015

Saturday, January 31

Please join us for a day of great fellowship with inspiring speakers  including your choice of a Spanish speaker during each session outlined in green below. Our theme this year is "Come to the Table."


Cambria Tortorelli

Who Jesus invited to the table to eat with him is enormously important in understanding the Gospel message of hospitality, welcome and inclusion. It has deep implications for how we apply the Gospel to our lives in our time and place. We will explore Jesus’ Table Fellowship from the perspective of Jews living in the 1st century as well as that of American Catholics living 2000 years later.

Cambria Tortorelli, parish life director at Holy Family Church in South Pasadena, holds a masters degree in Religious Studies from Mount St Mary’s University.She also serves as moderator of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Counci, is a member of St. John’s Seminary Board of Directors and a trustee of the Mount St Mary’s University Board of Trustees.

Dr. Jose Antonio Medina

La liturgia es la major expression de la fe de la communidad Cristiana en Christo verdadero Dios y verdadero. En ella celebramos el triunfo de Christo sobre el picador y la muerte, al mismo tiempo que proclamamos su presencia en nuestras luchas diarias. En este taller estudiaremos como los gestos, simbolos y acciones humanas al mismo tiempo nos introducen en el misterio inabarcable de Dios.

El Dr. Jose Antonio Medina obtuvo sus grados academicos en la Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca en Espana. Ha sido professor, catequista, presentador en Estados Unidos, Espana y Mexico. Ha ensenado en la mayor parte de los institutos de formacion para el ministerio de las diocesis de California y Nevada. Actualmente es el Director de la formacion de los sacerdotes de la Diocesis de San Bernardino y Consultor Teologico para RECOSS en la Conferencia de Obispos de Californis.

Session One
9:45 am - 11:00 am

W1: The Journey to Inclusion
Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson and Dan Schwala
The gospel calls us to welcome everyone, The journey to inclusion is not automatic. It takes reflection, conversion and action. This presentation will illustrate how that journey can unfold under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Born in East Los Angeles, Msgr. Torgerson was ordained a Catholic priest in 1965. He completed a graduate degree in Religious Education at Fordham University in New York in 1970. After returning to LA, he served as director of youth ministry and later became director of religious education for the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Msgr. Torgerson has been in residence at St. Monica for over 30 years, during most of which he has served as pastor.

Dan Schwala has served in the Ministry of Hospitality for 19 years. He has made presentations about hospitality at Liturgy Conferences, Regional Liturgical Formation Day Conferences, International Catholic Stewardship Conferences, and at various parishes throughout the Archdiocese of LA. Dan serves as the development chair on the Cardinal's Awards Dinner Committee and is president of the Board of Directors of St. John's Seminary in Camarillo. He has also served on the executive committee of the St. Joseph Center Voices-of-Hope annual gala since 1993. Dan works as a senior vice-president at UBS Financial Services in Los Angeles. His wife of 30 years, Denise, and he live in Westlake Village, California.
W2:  Reading the Gospels with New Eyes
Prof. Jean-Pierre Isbouts
Much of the richness and symbolic meaning of the Gospels will remain hidden to us unless we can immerse ourselves in the unique world of 1st century Galilee, and the Greco-Roman world in which the evangelists wrote their works. Part of this also reflects the unique pressures that early Christian communities struggled with. In this talk, biblical scholar Prof. Jean-Pierre Isbouts will take us into the fascinating world of rural Galilee and reveal some of the rich symbolism, often inspired by Hebrew Scripture, with which the evangelists sought to illustrate and enrich their stories.

Prof.Jean-Pierre Isbouts is a biblical historian and one of National Geographic’s top authors. A humanities professor at Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, CA, Dr. Isbouts has written a number of books on biblical history, including the international bestseller The Biblical World. In 2012, he published a new examination of the Jesus of history, entitled In the Footsteps of Jesus, which became a national bestseller in just six weeks. His latest book, The Story of Christianity, has been featured on over 15 TV and radio shows to date. In addition, he has produced several award-winning films narrated by, among others, Charlton Heston, Dick Van Dyke, Leonard Nimoy and Morgan Freeman.

W3:  What might Pope Francis be inviting us to ecumenically and interreligiously?
Fr. Alexei Smith
Pope Francis has taken some bold steps with members of other  Faith Traditions. What does this mean for us?

Fr Alexei has served in the Ecumenical and Interreligious Office of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles since 2000.


W4:  Aprendar A Meditar
Dr. David Lara
Todo el propósito de la meditación es el de profundizar la conciencia de la relación fundamental de la persona y el creador y del pecador al Redentor.

Antes de trabajar en la Arquidiócesis de Los Angeles, David trabajó por más de veinte años  en tres parroquias en las áreas de Pastoral Juvenil y Educación Religiosa.  David, quien estudió en la Universidad Estatal de Northridge (CSUN), Colegio Mount Saint Mary’s, Universidad de Loyola (LMU) y el Seminario de San Juan,  es miembro del Comité de Formación de la Comisión Litúrgica de la Arquidiócesis de Los Angeles; Equipo de Directores del Instituto de Liderazgo Cristiano; Equipo del Instituto Fe y Vida; y del Comité de la Junta Consultiva para Catequesis en español de RCL Benziger.  Desde el 2005 David trabaja en la Arquidiócesis de Los Ángeles como Coordinador Regional en el Departamento de Educación Religiosa.

Session Two
11:15 am - 12:30 pm

W5: Learning To Be Nurtured by God in Prayer and Meditation
Dr. James Finley
Our faith tells us that God never ceases to nurture us in each moment of our lives. The problem is that we are often too busy to slow down enough to experience this ever-present nurturance. In this reflection James Finley will help us with simple guidelines for interior prayer that allows us to taste for ourselves this ever-present nurturance of God’s loving presence in our lives.

Dr. Finley leads retreats and workshops throughout the US and Canada. These events attract men and women from all religious traditions who seek to live a contemplative way of life in the midst of today’s busy world. He is also a clinical psychologist and the author of Merton’s Palace of Nowhere, The Contemplative Heart and Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God.

W6: Who do people say that I am?” Learning how other faith traditions answer Jesus’ question is part of Christian hospitality
Fr. Guillermo Garcia

Jesus of Nazareth asks, “Who do people say that I am?” St Peter and today’s Christians  respond in faith that he is the Messiah, the son of the living God. But how do or would  other great faith traditions ( Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish)  and some of the folk religions (Santeria, Voodoo, La Santa Muerte) answer the same question? Understanding what others think is a way towards inviting them to the table of dialog and loving our neighbor.

Fr. Guillermo Garcia is a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and a full time Assistant Professor in the Religious Studies  at Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles. He earned his Ph. D in Religious Studies at the University of Leuven in Belgium. His fields of interest are Systematic Theology and especially Christology, Trinitarian Theology and Pneumatology. He also teaches moral theology.

W7: Bloom Where You Are Planted
Luella Wagner

So many times we find ourselves not where we want to be and wondering what we did to get there and what we can do to get out of it. Based on the Book of Jonah and the wisdom of St Therese of Lisieux this workshop will teach us not only to accept the conditions God sends us, but to embrace them and thrive in them. Luella will share her own experience of living on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. Forgiveness, discernment, patience and the rewards that come with them will be discussed.

Luella is a public speaker, writer, teacher and documentarian. She recently spent a year teaching on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana where she produced the award winning documentary, “We Shall Survive.” Wagner has been a presenter at Regional Congresses in the Los Angeles Archdiocese and has conducted retreats and workshops throughout the Los Angeles Area. She has also written articles for Catechist magazine.

W8. El Encuentro con Cristo
Maria Rivera
El encuentro con Cristo en la Eucaristía debe llevarnos a una experiencia personal e íntima y de solidaridad con los excluidos de nuestro sistema,  a un compromiso serio con nuestro planeta y a fomentar comunidades inclusivas sin etiquetas. 

María Rivera nació en Nicaragua y emigró a Estados Unidos en el año 1989. Tiene una licenciatura en Administración de Empresas de la   Universidad Centroamericana. Estudió dos años de Administración Parroquial y Recursos Humanos en la Universidad de Loyola Marymount. Trabajó por 13 años como directora de Educación Religiosa, ha enseñado a niños de primaria, a Catequistas y a Directores de Educación Religiosa.  Actualmente coordina el Instituto Bíblico en Español de la Arquidiócesis de Los Ángeles.

Session Three
1:30 pm - 2:45 pm

W9: A Table that Welcomes Every Part of Us: The Way of Radical Self- Compassion
Dr. Frank Rogers
Jesus invites to love our neighbors as ourselves, not instead of ourselves. Yet love and compassion for our self is obscenely lacking in our lives. This workshop teaches how to hold and heal the warring emotions and impulses that ravage us from within, and know a radical compassion that extends to every part of who we are.

Dr, Rogers is the Muriel Bernice Roberts Professor of Spiritual Formation and Narrative Pedagogy and co-director for engaged compassion at the Claremont School of Theology. His research focuses on how compassionis cultivated, compassion that is contemplatively grounded, personally empowering, and socially restorative. A trained spiritual director, therapeutic practitioner, and a retreat leader and has worked in North America, Zimbabwe, Great Britain, and Israel/Palestine. He is author of Practicing Compassion, The Way of Radical Compassion- A Curriculum; The God of Shattered Glass; A Novel, and Finding God in the Graffiti; Empowering Teenagers through stories. His current project is designing and teaching in the Triptykos School of Compassion, a three-month intensive formation program in the spiritual path of Jesus.

W10: Igniting a Passion for Life through Service
Dr. VaLecia Adams Kellum
Discover the power of the collective to heal and change whole communities through service to others. In this workshop we will discuss ways to increase your participation in collaborative movements that address issues of homelessness, hunger and poverty. This session will inspire you to grow your connection to others and ignite your passion for life through service.

Dr. VaLecia Adams Kellum has been the executive director of St. Joseph Center in Venice since 2008. She also currently serves as the chair of the Westside Shelter and Hunger Coalition, and for the last two years participated on the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Coordinating Council as the SPA 5 Representative. Dr. Adams was raised in Southern California and completed her Ph.D at Stanford University.

W11: Gifts of Hospitality and Inclusivity
Sharon Halsley Hoover

Flannery O’Connor was quoted as saying that the Catholic Church is “Here Comes Everybody”. Using the modality of storytelling, Sharon will share wisdom stories to examine the gift of hospitality and inclusivity. Stories can probe deep into our hearts and evoke responses that at times surprise us. There will be time to reflect on the stories and to share responses. “The purpose of a story teller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon”. Brandon Sanderson

Sharon is an accomplished storyteller, actor, retreat presenter and spiritual director. In the past she has served as a parish director of Religious Education, Youth Minister, therapist at a domestic violence shelter, and Assistant director and Case Manager at a transitional living program for homeless women. Recently she and her husband, David Hoover, moved to, Albuquerque  New Mexico. There they divide their time between volunteering at a Catholic Worker House of Hospitality, helping to organize events for Campaign Nonviolence, presenting their dramatic portrayals of Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, St Francis of Assisi and storytelling wherever invited to do so, and trying to spend some contemplative time each week. Their website is www.inscapeministries.com.

W12: ¿Soy digno ?
Irma Vargas
¿Qué nos impide llegar a la mesa ?  ¿Qué se necesita para ser un Ministro de la Eucaristía ? ¿Cómo puedo participar más activamente en la liturgia ?

Irma ha sido miembro de la comunidad parroquial de St. Monica desde su nacimiento. Ella asistió tanto a la escuela primaria y secundaria. Ella ha visto los cambios en la Iglesia , especialmente los laicos que se involucran más con la Liturgia. Irma ha sido un Ministro de la Eucaristía desde 1991. También se ha desempeñado como coordinadora y entrenadora de Ministros de la Eucaristía.