Christus Annual Conference

2013 Annual Conference

April 11 & 12, 2013

Featuring authors Judith Valente & Charles Reynard

Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 7:00 p.m.
Gautrelet Room

Living a Contemplative Life in a 24/7      

In a world of 24-hour shopping, cell phones, texts and Twitter, how do we regain a sense of silence and contemplation? Ancient monastic wisdom and traditions offer the contemporary world practical tools for living a more contemplative life amid the din of daily distractions. PBS-TV journalist Judith Valente spent the past four years as a regular visitor to a women’s Benedictine monastery in Atchison, Kansas and has written a forthcoming book about her experiences. In this interactive presentation involving music, video, photography and discussion, she will show how we can practice in our daily lives the monastic values of listening, prayer, praise, silence, humility, hospitality and contemplation, leading to what the Benedictines call “conversation morum,” conversion of our lives.

Friday, April 12, 2013 - 10:15 a.m.
Gautrelet Room

Discovering Inner Wisdom Through Poetry

“Poetry changes nothing. It survives,” W.H. Auden once famously said. Exploring the poetry of a variety of contemporary poets, Judith Valente and her husband Charles Reynard show how poems can help us slow down, find greater balance and tap into the transcendent in the everyday. Valente and Reynard have lives deeply rooted in the professional world – she as an author and correspondent for PBS-TV, he as an Illinois Circuit Court Judge.  Poetry is an integral part of their daily life and spiritual practice. In this lively and interactive presentation, they will show how poetry can influence and even change the course of our lives. Valente and Reynard are editors of “Twenty Poems to Nourish Your Soul,” an award-winning anthology of poems and reflections on finding the sacred in the ordinary. This is a presentation for both lovers of poetry and those who have little familiarity with poems.

Speaker Biographies:

Judith Valente

Judith Valente is an on air correspondent covering religion and ethics for national PBS-TV. She worked previously for The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. She is the author of two collections of poetry, most recently "Discovering Moons" (2009) and is co-editor with Charles Reynard of the award-winning "Twenty Poems to Nourish Your Soul," (2005) an anthology of poems and reflections on finding the sacred in the everyday. She has two books forthcoming in the fall of 2013. "Atchison Blue: A Search for Silence, A Spiritual Home and Authentic Faith" is her exploration of monastic values for contemporary people, based on her regular visits to Mount St. Scholastica Benedictine Monastery in Atchison, Kansas. Also forthcoming is "The Art of Pausing," a book of poetry and brief meditations for the overworked and overwhelmed, co-written with Brother Paul Quenon of the Abbey of Gethsemani. She holds a B.A. in English and classical languages from St. Peter's College, a Jesuit institution in Jersey City, NJ, and a masters in fine arts in creative writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is in formation for the Benedictine Oblates of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery.

Charles Reynard

Charles Reynard is a Circuit Court Judge in Bloomington, IL and the author of the poetry chapbook, "The Utility of Heartbreak," which chronicles his experiences as both a prosecutor and judge in the justice system.  He is co-editor of the anthology "Twenty Poems to Nourish Your Soul." He served for 15 years as the State's Attorney of McLean County, IL and has written extensively on the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence. He is a frequent presenter on the connection between work and faith. Mr. Reynard holds a B.A. in English from St. Joseph's College in Indiana and earned his law degree at Loyola University, Chicago. He and his wife, Judith Valente, reside in Chicago and Normal, IL and operate an alfalfa farm in Woodford County, IL.

Admission free for Christus members. Guests:  Thursday evening $5;  Friday morning $3

For more information call 380-4458 or email