It’s late and I’m exhausted, but I just need to say a few things about the general experience of being in Denver the past two days for the Living the Catholic Faith Conference. It was hour upon hour of inspiration. About 3,000 people attended the conference over two days — old people, teen-agers, entire families with lots of kids in tow, moms and dads with infants cooing and smiling and, occasionally, crying. Today half of the participants were Spanish-speaking. I hadn’t realized that 51 percent of the Catholic population in the Archdiocese of Denver is Hispanic. That’s quite a figure, and one that should remind us of what our future Church will look like and how we might want to respond.
The Denver Convention Center was like a modern-day revival tent. There were so many people at Mass this morning that they ran out of Holy Communion. The lines for confession were several people deep and snaked through the hall and around the corner for the entire 90-minute lunch break. In fact, the second keynote address of the day ran a few minutes behind because there were still confessions to be heard in that conference room. Good problems to have, I think. We’re constantly hearing about Catholics not going to Mass regularly and Catholics not going to confession at all, but this was a reminder that not all Catholics can be lumped into that disinterested group. There are many, many Catholics out there who are hungry for the faith and for the opportunity to receive the sacraments.
I was overwhelmed by the response of the people who attended my two workshops at the conference. Their kindness, their questions, their appreciation was beyond anything I had ever expected. I know I was there to pass something along to them, but they gave just as much back to me, probably much more. As I was leaving the convention center, a group of women called out to me to thank me one more time. I felt as though we were old friends, and, in a sense, we are because we are eternally connected by this faith of ours and our desire to share it.
I wrapped up my Denver trip with a great dinner at D’Corazon, a Mexican restaurant just a quick bus ride from my hotel. Best Mexican food I’ve had since leaving Texas eight years ago. I got a “knockout” margarita, chips and salsa, and huge platter or enchiladas verde and rice and beans for a whopping $12. I spent some time in the 16th Street Mall neighborhood before returning back to my hotel. The only negative of my trip is happening right now. The 20-somethings in the room next to me have decided to turn their no-smoking room into a smoking room and the smell is so bad my throat and eyes are hurting. So now at this late hour, I have to decide whether to ask to move my room. Not something I want to do. Other than that, Denver has been a real treat.