A few months ago, I attended the annual Connecticut Catholic Men’s Conference at St. Paul High School in Bristol. I’ve been meaning to discuss that terrific event, so this is either a review of the conference that is three months late, or a promotion for next year’s conference that is nine months early.
The best part of the conference, by far, is the simple fact that over 500 Catholic men gather in one place on a Saturday. The fellowship and camaraderie are wonderful, especially in our current modern culture, where it sometimes seems as if the last American man who took his Catholic faith seriously died of old age in 1987. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but you know what I mean: the percentage of men who are serious about practicing their faith has plummeted compared to a few generations ago.
As a wise old priest once said (and I wish I could remember his name), “Even if everybody stops believing in God, He is still God. The truth is not based on opinion polls.”
So, yes, God is still God, even if the majority of our population is too busy these days indulging in our consumer culture to give Him any thought. But it’s nice to gather with a bunch of fellas who know that God is God, and that the Church He founded—no matter how flawed—is still preaching the good news of the Gospel.
They’ve already set the date for the 2020 conference: Saturday, October 17th. Even though it’s about nine months away, go ahead and mark the date on your calendar, because I know you either use a digital calendar on your smart phone or computer, and you can easily scroll ahead to October; or if you are still a pen and paper kind of guy, you just received at least a dozen new 2020 calendars and it’s time to start filling in important events.
Besides the great fellowship, the one thing that never ceases to amaze me about the Catholic Men’s Conference is the quality of the guest speakers. I’ve attended at least nine or 10 conferences, and each year there were guest speakers I had never heard of, but then when they came on stage and talked for an hour, I was just blown away. They are such gifted communicators. Many of them were funny and entertaining, and in some cases, they were so energetic and inspirational, if you had walked into the auditorium in the middle of their talk, you’d have sworn you were at a Pentecostal revival meeting. Catholic men usually do not get that fired up—certainly not on a typical Sunday morning at the parish.
This past year, the guest speakers included Dan Burke from EWTN, Fr. John Bartunek L.C., and Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers. Each of these men gave fantastic presentations. In previous years we had Fr. Larry Richards and Catholic evangelist Tim Staples. They were fantastic, too.
In our modern, high-tech culture, people often complain that the Internet is nothing more than a cesspool of narcissism and nastiness, which is turning our brains into mush. And of course, this is undeniably true. But there are some silver linings in that vast wasteland of digital debris. If you go to YouTube and search any of the names I just mentioned, you can watch them in action. It is very inspiring.
While you’re at it, also search for other gifted Catholic speakers, like Dr. Scott Hahn and Bishop Robert Barron.
So, here’s our mission during the coming months as we wait for the next Conference: first, go to ctcatholicmen.org to learn more details about the conference. Next, mark October 17th on you brand-new 2020 calendar. Finally, while we’re waiting for October to roll around, go to YouTube on a regular basis and watch some of these great Catholic teachers and preachers.
Most of all, don’t forget: God is still God, and He wants us all to live our faith with joy and enthusiasm—even if the rest of our culture can’t be bothered.