ECC Holy Synod 2024 – Keynotes

ECC Holy Synod 2024 Featured Voices

Rev. Ricky Manalo, CSP, PhD

Rev. Ricky Manalo, CSP, PhD is a Paulist priest, a composer, theologian, and author. He will help us explore what it means to gather for liturgy in a world that now includes technological connections in his session, Onsite and Online: Catholic Worship and Technology in a 2.5 World.

During the Covid epidemic’s highpoints, lockdowns drove the Christian Churches to quickly embrace a range of new technologies as they gathered for Sabbath worship. Although most of us initially faced hiccups and stutters, the presence of technology lingers in many of our ECC Communities. Many of us continue to use Livestream through Facebook, YouTube, or Vimeo; Zoom for hybrid worship; or post recordings of Sunday liturgy on our websites for later viewing. What does this mean for our present and future? How do we understand “full, conscious and active,” principles many of us have carried over into our ECC liturgical sensibilities? Is e-church church? We will hear from Fr. Ricky and engage questions together as we look at technology and new media, and it’s implications for our future as praying communities.

Many of you may know Fr. Ricky from his successful career as a liturgical composer. He is the recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Catholic Music Composer of the Year Award by the Association of Catholic Publishers, and the 2018 Pastoral Musician of the Year Award by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. He studied composition and piano at the Manhattan School of Music, theology at the Washington Theological Union (WTU), and liturgy, culture, and sociology at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), Berkeley, CA where he achieved a PhD in liturgical theology.

Fr. Ricky’s music is published chiefly by Oregon Catholic Press. He is known to compose in a variety of musical styles, from contemporary to traditional, and from Western classical to Asian pentatonic. Some of his best-known hymns include:
Beyond the Days
In These Days of Lenten Journey
Pange Lingua
Spirit and Grace (and Mass of Spirit and Grace)
With One Voice
Worthy Is the Lamb

He is also known for pioneering and popularizing Asian Catholic liturgical music in the United States with his hymns, including:
Ang Katawan Ni Kristo (Filipino: “The Body of Christ”)
By the Waking of Our Hearts
Many and Great

Fr. Ricky has written more than 30 articles, books, and chapters in books on a wide range of topics, including liturgy, culture, music, and the intersection of sociology and religious practices.  His first book, Chanting On Our Behalf (revised edition, Pastoral Press, 2015) won the first place award for Best E-Book by the Catholic Press Association. His second book, The Liturgy of Life: The Interrelationship of Sunday Eucharist and Everyday Worship Practices (Liturgical Press, 2014) was a finalist for the 2015 Excellence in Publishing Awards by the Association of Catholic Publishers. He is a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy, the Catholic Theological Society of America, the International Societas Liturgica, and NPM (board member, 2008-12).

As a missionary priest, Fr. Manalo has been to six of the seven continents to do a variety of presentations, from academic lectures, keynotes, and pastoral workshops, to preaching, presiding, and giving concerts. When he is not traveling throughout the world, he resides at St. Paul the Apostle Church in New York City.

Christopher Pramuk, PhD

Christopher Pramuk, PhD  lives with his wife Lauri, a pediatrician, and their family in the Denver area, where he serves as the University Chair of Ignatian Thought and Imagination and Professor of Theology at Regis University. He and Lauri met at Regis almost 35 years ago, where both, they say, were first “ruined by the Jesuits”; she is a pediatrician, and together they have four children. Chris recently completed a two-year term as President of the International Thomas Merton Society.

Chris is the author of seven books, including Hope Sings, So Beautiful: Graced Encounters Across the Color Line (2013), a sustained meditation on race relations in society and church, and two award-winning studies of Thomas Merton: At Play in Creation: Merton’s Awakening to the Feminine Divine (2015), and Sophia: The Hidden Christ of Thomas Merton (2009), recipient of the International Thomas Merton Society’s “Thomas Merton Award,” its highest honor. His writings have appeared in America magazine, Theological Studies, Cross Currents, and the prayer journal Give Us This Day. His book, The Artist Alive: Explorations in Music, Art, and Theology (2019) is the fruit of many years of using music, poetry, and the arts in the theology classroom. Chris’s forthcoming book, All My Eyes See: The Artistic Vocation of Fr. William Hart McNichols, a collaboration with artist and iconographer Fr. Bill McNichols, will be published in April 2024 by Orbis Books.

After graduating from the University of Kentucky in 1987, in his hometown of Lexington, Chris moved to Colorado to study music, was drawn deeper into Buddhist and Christian spirituality, and taught theology at Regis Jesuit High School for five years. After completing his PhD at the University of Notre Dame, he taught at Xavier University in Cincinnati for ten years, developing courses at the intersection of spirituality, race, the arts, theology, and social justice. In 2015 he was honored by students in Alpha Sigma Nu, the national Jesuit Honor Society, as Xavier’s Teacher of the Year. The following year he was recognized by his faculty colleagues with the Roger A. Fortin Award for Outstanding Teaching and Scholarship in the Humanities. In 2017, he and his family returned to the Denver area, where his position at Regis University builds from his passion for the principles that animate Ignatian spirituality and Jesuit pedagogy. Two of Chris and Lauri’s four children were adopted from post-earthquake Haiti in 2010, one of the many experiences of cross-cultural encounter he writes about in Hope Sings, So Beautiful.

A lifelong musician and student of African American history and spirituality, Chris spoke in 2017 on racial justice, resurrection faith, and the legacy of the slave songs and spirituals for the national assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in Orlando. He lectures widely around the country and has led retreats on topics such as racial justice, Ignatian spirituality, and the witness of Thomas Merton.

Deacon Besem Oben Etchi, PhD

Deacon Besem Oben Etchi, PhD will be the homilist at the all-Communion Sunday Mass. Deacon Bes of Charis Community MN was ordained to the ECC diaconate on October 1, 2023. She is Cameroonian and resides in Kribi, Cameroon, where she and others are raising up Our Lady Advocate of Africa EC Community. She has a passion for reviving indigenous knowledge to retrieve the many options of revelation the Divine has gifted the human race and using this knowledge to engineer better educational systems for children. She runs a preschool and elementary school in Kribi when she is not teaching theology or preaching.  She is a mother or two beautiful girls and keeps watch over her parents. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, a Master in Divinity and a PhD in Systematic Theology from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA.