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Symposium on Parish Renewal Energizes Parish Leaders

South Orange, NJ—Diocesan and parish leaders from the greater New York metro area gathered at Seton Hall University for the Monsignors Thomas Kleissler and Thomas Ivory Symposium on Parish Renewal. The event was hosted by RENEW International in partnership with The Center for Catholic Studies at Seton Hall and America Media. Over two hundred clergy and lay men and women listened to insights from Catholic thought leaders and engage in dialogue on topics vital to today’s Church.

The keynote speaker was William Simon, chairman of Parish Catalyst and author of Great Catholic Parishes. Simon addressed the four foundational practices he found in successful parishes. In his research, he found that great parishes share leadership; foster spiritual maturity and plan for discipleship; excel on Sunday; and evangelize.

The keynote was followed by four panelists, each an expert in one of the four foundational practices. Father Matt Malone, SJ of America Media acted as moderator. The four panelists—Chris Lowney, author of Everyone Leads; Sister Terry Rickard, OP, president of RENEW; Father Bismarck Chau, pastor of St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral in Newark, NJ; and Leisa Anslinger, director of Catholic Life and Faith—each spoke briefly before symposium attendees submitted questions.

A lively conversation ensued as panelists answered questions and explored new topics raised in participant table discussions. Following the panel discussion, a final table session produced a collection of takeaways for the participants which were shared with the room.

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, archbishop of Newark, joined participants and panelists for evening prayer, sharing reflections about RENEW and the vision of its founders, Monsignors Kleissler and Ivory, who were present. “As a young priest in Detroit, I knew two things about Newark,” the cardinal said. “I knew it was in New Jersey, and I knew it had a wonderful program called RENEW.”


At the conclusion of his remarks, Cardinal Tobin presented each of RENEW’s founders with an Apostolic Blessing as well as his own letter of congratulations and gratitude.

The symposium was one of a series of events in celebration of RENEW’s 40th anniversary. The year-long initiative is titled Forward at Forty as RENEW highlights past accomplishments and looks forward to continuing its mission as a transformative force within the Church.

Click to view a video of the symposium.