September 23, 2015 // Local

Inspiration offered at ZEAL Missionary Discipleship Summit

By Kay Cozad


FORT WAYNE — When the Popcaks deliver their keynote address at the first annual ZEAL Missionary Discipleship Summit at Bishop Dwenger High School on Saturday, Oct. 10, their topic “Radical Love: Living the Catholic Difference in Relationship” will inspire many of the faithful in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

The all-day adults-only conference, sponsored by diocesan Office of Catechesis, will offer a wide range of morning and afternoon breakout sessions presented by a diverse roster of exceptional speakers.

Dr. Gregory and Lisa Popcak, renowned speakers, authors and radio call-in hosts, say Catholics are called to love in a radically different way in the world. In the keynote address they will focus on the role relationships play in God’s plan for life, what it really means to love unconditionally, and how to bring healing to those relationships that seem to be stumbling blocks.

“In today’s world, there’s a lot of confusion about what love truly means and what being a loving person really requires of us. Our talks will help participants discover the real power of the Catholic vision of love and give them the tools they need to be effective instruments of grace in their relationships with their spouse, family, friends and the communities they live in,” Greg Popcak says.

Popcak says their message, inspired by Scripture, may bring to light the real meaning of the New Evangelization. “Scripture tells us that unless we have love we have nothing. People talk a lot about the New Evangelization but few people really know what that means. … Today, more than anything else, evangelization means creating relationships that show the world that we have the love that everyone longs for — because God is teaching us, step-by-step, how to live the love that springs from His very own heart. When we can commit to that kind of love, not only will our own relationships fulfill the longings of our hearts, they will make the world stand up and take notice.”

As speakers of the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, the Popcaks say, “Love ‘is’ both the desire and mission of every Catholic person. … God has great plans for our relationships. Our hope is that the Zeal conference will help people learn how to get out of God’s way so that His plan can be fulfilled in their lives and they can experience the transforming power of His love!”

He adds, “God wants to fill their hearts with His love through the people He has placed in their lives and that He wants to use their relationships to transform the world.”

Greg Popcak is the founder and executive director of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, an organization dedicated to providing the resources committed Catholics need to live more faithful and abundant marriage, family and personal lives. In addition to his ministry work, Popcak serves on the adjunct faculty at Franciscan University of Steubenville and on the doctoral faculty of the Harold Abel School of Behavioral Health in the department of clinical social work at Capella University.

Lisa Popcak is the vice-president of the Pastoral Solutions Institute. She is a professional educator, a lactation consultant and certified family-life coach.

The Popcaks will also present a morning workshop titled, “Living the Catholic Difference in Marriage” and an afternoon session titled, “Engaging Families.”

A variety of speakers in both morning and afternoon sessions will offer personal enrichment and best practices for participants including Father Ben Muhlenkamp, pastor of St. Louis Besancon Parish in New Haven, who will speak on same-sex attraction and the call to love. Father Muhlenkamp hopes that his talk will edify his listeners in a world that teaches that physical intimacy is man’s greatest need.

“In my talk we will discuss how emotional and spiritual intimacy are the primary needs of each man and woman. And we will talk about the great necessity for brotherhood and sisterhood and Christ,” he says, adding, “Catholics need to understand that our attractions are not sinful in themselves. I am attracted to a dozen doughnuts. It is only gluttony if I eat all of them. I also want to share with them information about how our attractions don’t define our identity.”

Using stories and statistics Father Muhlenkamp hopes to clarify several misunderstood terms and offer encouraging tools that will help his listeners dialogue with friends and coworkers.

Father Muhlenkamp was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in 2012 and serves as Catholic chaplain for St. Augustine’s Men’s Group, the post abortive healing ministry Divine Mercy Ministry, the Police Fellowship, and Bishop Luers High School. He is also the Catholic representative for the ecumenical group Shepherd’s United that works to defend life and traditional marriage.

Wendy and James Summers

James and Wendy Summers will also present an informative session titled “One Body, One Family: The Value of Diversity and Inclusion.” They hope to expose their listeners to an “experience of being Catholic that they may never have been exposed to before.”

“Our Church is far more diverse and rich with experiences than many of us realize. And the richness of those many experiences make us better capable of interacting in a loving way with others,” they say, adding “that by sharing our experiences as Black Catholics we will provide some new perspectives for others to pray about. And through that exposure and opportunity to talk, discuss, learn and share, when we each inhale with prayer we’ll be listening with fresh ears. Then when we exhale with our actions, they will be more loving, more inclusive, more seeking and more healing.”

The Summers have been married 40 years and have two children and three grandchildren. They currently reside in Granger and are members of St. Pius X Parish. Over the years they have been active in many different church ministries and are members of the Black Catholic Advisory Board in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

Christina Nicholson, director of the Office of Catechesis and coordinator of ZEAL, notes, “It is our hope that through ZEAL the Holy Spirit will touch the minds and hearts of the faithful to fall more deeply in love with Christ and spread His love to all in response. In the words of John 2:17, we pray that, ‘Zeal for (our Father’s) house will consume’ our diocese and we may become faithful disciples of the Word in our every day lives.”

She invites everyone, saying, “ZEAL: Missionary Discipleship Summit is meant for everyone. We are all called to be disciples in some way, be it in a ministry of the Church, as a parent in the home, or an employee in the workforce. Each of our roles is important and necessary. I personally invite you to attend our first ZEAL and to delve deeper into your faith.”

ZEAL Missionary Discipleship Summit will be held from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Bishop Dwenger High School on Saturday, Oct. 10. The cost is $20 and participants must be preregistered and prepaid to attend. Register at before Sept 28.

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.