Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry, a Catholic apostolate engaged in evangelism and the promotion of spirituality headquartered in the Diocese of Orange, California, will present a 72-hour Saint Joseph Summit (www.saintjosephsummit.com) virtual conference September 30-October 3, 2021. Featured speakers include Fr. Donald Calloway, Dr. Scott Hahn, Chris Stefanick, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, filmmaker James Wahlberg, author Sr. Briege McKenna, Fr. Mike Schmitz and Chastity Project founders Jason and Crystalina Evert, as well as dozens of other cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and lay leaders.
Themed “Our Spiritual Father: Pilgrimage to the Heart of Saint Joseph”, organizers anticipate drawing tens of thousands of participants worldwide.
There is no cost to listen to presentations; register for free at the Saint Joseph Summit website. However, due to the large numbers of speakers and 72-hour time period of presentations, organizers are encouraging the public to opt for the $49.99 premium “passport” which allows for lifetime access to presentations as well as bonus content and a free digital copy of Fr. Calloway’s new book Consecration to Saint Joseph.
Deacon Steve Greco, president of Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry and a permanent deacon of the Diocese of Orange since 2007, spoke recently with CWR about the conference.
CWR: How did you decide to launch the Saint Joseph Summit?
Deacon Steve Greco: I host a weekly radio program, “Empowered by the Spirit, which we record at Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, which serves as the chancery office for the Diocese of Orange. It airs on two radio networks as well as our online radio network, Spirit Filled Radio. Last year, it was my pleasure to host Fr. Donald Calloway of the Congregation of Marian Fathers. He was telling me about a book he was working on, titled Consecration to St. Joseph: the Wonders of Our Spiritual Father. He is a very active priest involved in many things, but he expressed that he thought this book was one of the most important things he accomplished since becoming a priest.
When the book came out, I purchased a copy myself, and did the consecration. Subsequently, while in prayer, I came to believe that God was calling me and my ministry, Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry, to put on a major conference dedicated to St. Joseph in this Year of St. Joseph as designated by Pope Francis.
CWR: Tell us a bit about your ministry, Spirit Filled Hearts.
Deacon Greco: I founded it in 2014, while I was working as an executive in the pharmaceutical industry. I soon retired and have been working full time in this ministry.
Spirit Filled Hearts engages in Catholic evangelization and helping people grow in their prayer lives, working closely with the priests and lay people of many parishes and dioceses. We also support the foreign missions in the Philippines and Indonesia. Pre-pandemic we did over 100 talks and conferences annually.
The pandemic forced the cancellation of our in-person events, but a silver lining was that it helped us improve the virtual component of our ministry. My wife, Mary Anne, and I, for example, now do a Friday afternoon Facebook live presentation on the weekend’s readings. We repositioned our focus and began launching several online conferences monthly, and it actually increased our reach. While we very much want to get back to regular in-person events, the virtual component is here to stay, as it gives us the ability to reach people anywhere in the world who have an internet connection. This is very much the case with the Saint Joseph Summit.
CWR: How did you go about selecting your speakers?
Deacon Greco: We sought out a variety of Catholics who can offer different perspectives on the spirituality of St. Joseph and how it might influence our lives. We expect to have a number of bishops participating, including my own bishop, Kevin Vann, and his auxiliary, Timothy Freyer. We have some wonderful priests and religious participating, including Father Donald Calloway, Fr. Robert Spitzer, who many people might know from his EWTN program, “Father Spitzer’s Universe”, and Sister Breige Mckenna.
I’m a permanent deacon and I like to hear other permanent deacons, so I’m pleased that we have speakers such as Deacons Harold Burke Sivers and Larry Oney. We also have some impressive lay people advanced in the spiritual life who will be presenting, such as Scott Hahn, Chris Stefanick, Patti Mansfield, Jim Walberg, Daniel Burke and Kathleen Beckman. I could go on and on. We have a complete list of speakers on our Saint Joseph Summit website that I would encourage people to check out.
We will have these speakers talk in their areas of expertise while tying in the importance of the intercession of St. Joseph, our spiritual father, the terror of demons and head of the Holy Family. We have three themes in the conference: spiritual warfare, healing and the family, with a particular focus on the spirituality of men, as men are called to be spiritual heads in their families.
CWR: What do you think Joseph was like?
Deacon Greco: He was a compassionate man. Imagine how hard it was for him to see his betrothed come back from seeing her cousin Elizabeth, but with a child he knew wasn’t his. Some men at that time would have had their wives stoned in such a situation, but Joseph instead planned to quietly divorce her.
Joseph was also open to the Holy Spirit, the promptings of God. When God revealed to him in a dream that Mary had not sinned, but that the Child was of the Holy Spirit, he accepted what God told him and brought Mary into his home. He did not have to accept that dream; he had to discern that it was from God.
Joseph was a man of great faith, of great patience, and one who loved his family. Imagine the stress on him when it was time for Mary to give birth. He must have been frantic, but in the end was able to secure the perfect place. I’m sure a stable in Bethlehem was not the script he would have been written, but when he saw this was the direction God pointed him, he went with it.
CWR: Do you picture Joseph as old or young?
Deacon Greco: I have to go with what Fr. Calloway said in Consecration to St. Joseph. Not too many old men would have been able to dash from Bethlehem to Egypt to escape King Herod’s soldiers. He may not have been a teenager like Mary, but I suspect he was in his 20s or early 30s.
CWR: Have those you asked been receptive to speaking?
Deacon Greco: Nearly everyone we’ve invited to speak has said yes. There is tremendous enthusiasm, which has only continued to build as the Catholic media has picked up the story. We hope this continues with this Catholic World Report story and others like it. In fact, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has invited both Fr. Calloway and I to be his guests on his podcast.
CWR: Registration is free, but you charge $49.99 for a premium passport. Why would someone opt to pay for a passport if the conference is free?
Deacon Greco: The main reason is that we have so many speakers presenting in such a confined time period that it is best way to get the full benefit of the conference. With the passport, people can go back and listen to all the talks, at their leisure and at a pace where they can really absorb the material presented. We definitely want people to participate with either the free or passport option, but the passport is really the way to get all you can from this conference.
There are also some other perks for passport holders, such as some additional content and an electronic copy of Fr. Calloway’s book Consecration to St. Joseph.
CWR: How is Summit different than things Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry has done previously?
Deacon Greco: Well, for one, our focus on St. Joseph is new. But in our time, I think looking to Joseph for help and inspiration is critical. He can help us in our battle against Satan, and help us heal from past wounds. He is also an important guide for our time. He helps us better understand the role of the man in marriage, as a spiritual head, at a time when there is a dearth of such role models in society.
And, while our ministry has done many virtual events in the past, this is the first time we’ve done one of this scale. Having this means to reach a worldwide audience is a great benefit, an asset and a blessing.
CWR: Cardinal Studios is providing technical support to your ministry in presenting the conference. Why did you select them?
Deacon Greco: They are a leading company in the U.S doing online conferencing, and they also possess a deep spirituality and employ some excellent people. I have been very excited and pleased to partner with them.
I also have to say that we wouldn’t have taken on this important initiative without securing the leadership of one of the leading Catholic publicists nationally, Alexis Walkenstein. She is the project leader and has done a tremendous job!
CWR: Will all talks be pre-recorded?
Deacon Greco: Yes, but we will have live devotional components as well.
CWR: What challenges are there in putting on such a large conference, and what help do you need?
Deacon Greco: The major challenges include securing top and anointed speakers, technical needs, and marketing to a worldwide audience. I couldn’t be more excited regarding the speakers. It has far exceeded my expectations. The technical aspects of putting on the conference and having a world class product is going well under the talented leadership of Cardinal Studios. The marketing is just beginning, but we are already being promoted by major Catholic organizations.
There is also a significant cost to putting on such a conference. If people want to financially support us, the easiest way is to buy a premium passport. If they’d like to make a larger donation, they can click on the donate tab on our website, www.spiritfilledhearts.org.
CWR: Any other thoughts?
Deacon Greco: Yes, one last thing. In this Year of Saint Joseph, which runs through December 8, 2021, there are a variety of special indulgences granted by the Holy See. One involves participating in a spiritual retreat of at least one day that includes a meditation on St. Joseph. An indulgence, I would remind your readers, is remission of temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven, a way of speeding our entry into heaven when we die. I would encourage your interested readers to look online for further details.
CWR: What are your hopes for the Saint Joseph Summit?
Deacon Greco: I want to change minds, hearts and souls. I want people to understand that they are loved by Jesus Christ, the Holy Family and St. Joseph. I want total conversion, or metanoia, on the part of our participants.
I encourage people to sign up, and I very much appreciate their prayers and support. I think this is one of the most important things Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry has ever done.
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