The Napa Institute will present its 11th annual summer conference July 21-25, 2021 at The Meritage Resort in Napa, California. The conference will feature a wide variety of prominent Catholic speakers including Archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski; Archbishop of Oklahoma City Paul Coakley; Bishop of Spokane Thomas Daly; Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ, co-founder and president of the Napa Institute and president of the Magis Center for Reason and Faith; Fr. John Riccardo, executive director of ACTS XXIX; author and speaker Chris Stefanick; author Mary Eberstadt; retired Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput; and Tim Gray, president of the Augustine Institute.
The theme of the 2021 conference is “All Things Made New,” with an emphasis on presenting a “deep dive” into the Catholic faith and an examination “with a spirit of charity, intellectual rigor, and fidelity to the magisterium, pressing issues facing Catholics today.”
Participants will have the opportunity to attend Mass in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms, go to Confession, receive spiritual direction, and participate in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. There will also be fine food and wine, and visits to local wineries and breweries.
The Napa Institute was founded 11 years ago on three pillars: community, formation and liturgy. In addition to the education portions of the event, participants are encouraged “to build connections through meals with open seating and evening activities.”
The 2019 conference was a sold out event drawing 650; the 2020 virtual-only conference drew 2,000. CWR spoke recently to Napa Institute co-founder and chairman of the board Timothy R. Busch about the 2021 conference.
CWR: How are your speakers selected?
Timothy R. Busch: Speakers are chosen by a committee and the same committee carefully discerns the annual theme. The theme this year is how we can serve God’s work of “All Things Made New” in a time of great challenges. The focus of the conference’s three days builds methodically from the path to personal renewal on day one, to renewal of the Church on day two, to renewal of the culture and nation on day three. We focus on many different areas of renewal and the unique role we play as Catholics in bringing about that renewal, including personal renewal, the Church, politics and civil discourse, the economy, education and many more.
Some of our key speakers this year include Curtis Martin, Chris Stefanik, Fr. John Riccardo, Fr. Dave Pivonka, Dr. Carter Snead, Fr. Robert Spitzer, Archbishop Charles Chaput and Rusty Reno.
CWR: Do you have any themes you’re asking your speakers to address this year? What topics does the Institute believe it is most import for its speakers to address in 2021?
Busch: The main topic is bringing renewal and healing to our Church and culture. It is easy to become frustrated by the polarization and lack of civil discourse in our Church and our culture. We want to restore the Christian foundations of this nation by equipping leaders to be effective evangelizers and apologists in the hostile culture, not only teaching them what the Church believes on contemporary issues, but understanding why the Church believes what it does so Catholics can meaningfully defend the Church.
CWR: Who should attend this conference?
Busch: This conference is for all Catholic leaders, bishops, priests and religious, lay apostolate leaders and lay Catholic men and women interested in expanding their knowledge of the faith. Formation is only one component to the Napa Institute, we also provide time for prayer and reflection, as well as opportunities to form lifelong friendships and community with other leaders.
CWR: How do you think the conference will help attendees better engage in evangelization and the formation of stronger parishes, communities and families?
Busch: It will do so by both forming them on the issues we face as Catholic leaders, providing them retreat-like experiences to renew them spiritually, and by building camaraderie with like-minded Catholic leaders from around the globe.
CWR: What are the devotional/prayer opportunities available to participants?
Busch: The conference always has a significant spiritual component. In the four days of the 2019 Napa Institute Summer Conference, for example, we had 105 Masses celebrated, as well as prayer and adoration chapels, a Eucharistic procession and abundant time for spiritual direction and confession. Participants will see a similar spiritual component in 2021. Many of our breakout talks and activities include spiritual reflections as well.
CWR: What social opportunities do you offer participants?
Busch: The Napa Institute encourages all of our speakers and VIPs to stay for the entire conference, giving them ample opportunities to interact with participants. Our dinners and countless social activities do not come with assigned seating and there are many opportunities to meet and mingle with all of our guests.
Additionally, on Friday, we will have optional trip to the Far Niente Winery, established by 49er John Benson in 1885. It has beautiful grounds, historic buildings, and wonderful wines.
CWR: What safety protocols will be in place related to the pandemic?
Busch: We are working with Napa County to ensure all safety protocols are met and are being fully transparent in our planning. Over 80% of the hotel staff has already been vaccinated and safety is a top priority. As the event gets closer, we will continue to reevaluate what is necessary.
For those unable or not wishing to attend in person, there will be including a digital component of the conference this year to stream main session talks and additional digital-only content. All in-person attendees will have full digital access after the event is over.
CWR: Talk about the hotel accommodations.
Busch: We will make use of two beautiful resorts adjacent to one another, Vista Collina and Meritage Resort. The resorts are on the south end of the Napa Valley and have vineyards on site. Napa Institute will have a full buyout on both resorts creating the perfect environment to relax and spend time with other attendees.
CWR: Are there any scholarship opportunities to attend for priests and religious, or lay people of modest means?
Busch: Scholarships are given to a large percentage of attendees annually, and priests and religious automatically receive a 50% discount on registration.
CWR: Do you have concerns that you will again have to cancel the in-person conference and make it entirely a virtual one as in 2020?
Busch: We are confident the in-person event will happen as planned this year. Full refunds will be issued if the event is cancelled, but we do not think that will happen. We are looking forward to another outstanding conference, which will have much to offer its participants.
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