On October 6 and 7 , the annual conference held by Saint Benedict Center, took place. The conference is an event for Catholics to gather and enjoy each other’s company while learning about the faith, but in order for this blessed event to take place, many hours of planning and hard work are required by those people who are “behind the scenes” and are all too often taken for granted.
This is not to discredit any of the speakers on stage. After all, without them, there would be no one to educate and enlighten the attendees.
Mr. Russell La Plume, or as he is more commonly known, Mr. Russ, is the main person in charge of the planning, logistics, and nitty gritty details concerning the conference. Bookkeeper, author of the ‘My Cup of Joe’ articles for Catholicism.org, and bookstore manager, he is truly a man of many talents. Included in his collection of talents, is the fulfillment of the duties of manager for the conference for seven consecutive years. “It is pretty much routine,” says Mr. Russ.
Nevertheless, there are still many unforeseen problems that come up during the event that cause problems. “Coordination is probably the most difficult part” he explains. As many attendees don’t sign up early enough which can cause problems when he is reserving tables and chairs from Elegant Settings in Keene as well as when he books the food services from Kulick’s.
The planning is such that it must be done as far in advance as a year. What that means is that even as the conference is winding down, Mr. Russ is already planning for next year. In fact, the dates for next year (October 12 and 13) have been set.
He is not alone in his efforts behind the scenes. Br. Andre took care of contacting and coordinating the speakers; Br. Joseph had the responsibility of the website, the advertising, the audio equipment, and formatting the CDs and DVDs; and Br. Louis handled all the travel accommodations for the speakers. Other helpers included Mr. Grinstead and Gabriel Brockman who grilled all the food for Saturday, Terry Griffin who babysat for one of the families, Richard Griffin who acted as the resident trash collector, and Juliana Haynes and Gabriela Bosonetto who performed the duties of servers.
Although the conference is technically a fundraiser, it does not make much of a profit, as the Center usually breaks even. “It is more important to Br. Andre and the brothers and everybody to have catholic comradery. “says Mr. Russ. And they have just that. “We come together, and we pray together, work together, we play together in doing those three things we constitute a complete Catholic society” says Gary Potter, a speaker at the conference.
Not only is the conference a great opportunity for intellectual and spiritual growth, it is also an amazing way to meet other Catholics and people who have same beliefs as you. It is truly a beautiful sight to see. “Old friends coming together, real old friends coming together, to sit down, reminisce, go over new stories, listen to Charles Coulombe” says Mr. Russ , commenting on the real purpose of the conference.