The first time you went to Men of Christ, you were invited by a friend?
That’s correct. And really, once I went, I never regretted going. It was a real inspiration to know that there are other men (who) are just like me, (who) have the same types of struggles and doubts, and (attending the conference) gave me the courage to move forward and to learn, to grow in my faith.
What keeps you coming back to the Men of Christ conference? How does it fill your faith cup?
(The conference is) inspiring, encouraging me to be a better man, to be a better husband, to be a better father, to be a better citizen of the community and be a better Catholic.
Why do you think a men’s only conference is beneficial?
By nature, men are doers. They like to work with their hands — like woodworking or changing a spark plug on a lawnmower or chainsaw, or playing sports. By nature, they are active and derive satisfaction from work and being busy. Imagine a man standing in front of a wood burning stove and a pile of logs of various sizes. Also in front of him is an ax and a saw. Further imagine the man trying to cut and chop the wood to get it into the stove but not knowing how to best use the tools. He has limited success in getting wood into the stove to burn. The Men of Christ conference is about teaching men how to better utilize the faith tools the Church offers. Nationally known speakers were carefully selected so as to ignite the fire of men’s souls. I guarantee that if you come and listen, you will learn, laugh and maybe even cry when you realize how much God loves you.
Why do you think the Men of Christ ministry is so vital?
The culture that we find ourselves in is very difficult for men to navigate. There’s a lot of pressures being put on men and our society. The most effective way for the devil to undermine a soul is to isolate that soul, so what the Men of Christ conference and the subsequent connections made there does is gives men the strength and inspiration, the tools to succeed and a chance to fight together for the salvation of our families.
What would you say to a man who doesn’t know anyone else going and is a bit unsure about attending?
Most of the attendees will be Catholic men, and we’re all really brothers in arms. We share more than most people realize. The structure of the conference is that men from neighboring parishes will meet at a host parish site. There will be more than 70 host parishes that will be receiving a live video feed from the main conference site located at the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary Retreat Center in Waukesha. They’re going to find small-world connections. It’s going to be uncomfortable for some guys. But to this guy who doesn’t know if he should go, he should go because he is about to meet the friends that he didn’t know he already had.
The conference has grown by thousands and stretched to four states. What do you attribute some of this growth to?
In 2007, it was about 1,700 men. Last year, there were more than 5,100 men participating. You can see it in the fact that now we’re in four states, including New York. You can see how this is beginning to spread and mushroom. In the end, the proliferation of Men of Christ is the result of prayer and the Holy Spirit. In addition, I think it’s very important that we give credit where credit is due. Archbishop Listecki has been a champion of Men of Christ for many years. He cleared his schedule specifically for this year’s conference, so he could be live and present at the Schoenstatt Retreat Center, and to be an active part in the conference. He has made it a priority for the last 14 years and has been there without fail.
If someone isn’t already registered, should they still come?
Yes, please, if the Holy Spirit moves you the morning of, please go. Registration is pretty simple and straightforward. It’s at menofchrist.net. My plea is for men to plan to get up Saturday morning on March 11, get off the couch, get out of your pajamas and get to a Men of Christ host site at a church right down the street from where you live. Lent, in large part, is intended to strip away excuses and get real with God. So, no excuses for not attending the conference.