Men of Christ has evolved since the pandemic to a virtual hybrid model that organizers expect to draw its largest crowd ever. This year’s event takes place March 11. (File photo)
The Men of Christ conference is gearing up for its biggest year yet.
On Saturday, March 11, the annual conference will go live to more than 77 event sites in four states.
“We’re expecting this to be the greatest men’s evangelization experience we’ve ever undertaken,” said Kevin O’Brien, co-founder of the Men of Christ apostolate. “We have big goals to glorify God. We want to lift men up, and inspire them to do what God’s calling them to do.”
This year’s theme is “Living Your Vocation Courageously,” and will invite men of all ages and circumstances into a message of empowerment, community and purpose, O’Brien said.
“Our motto is, get the man, get the family; get the family, get society. But Men of Christ is not just for fathers. It’s about what it takes to be a strong man,” said O’Brien. “We’re trying to encourage the whole spectrum.”
This year’s event features a hybrid model that O’Brien said brings greater accessibility to the large-scale conference experience, with “super sites” like the Schoenstatt Retreat Center in Waukesha and Carthage College in Kenosha, alongside smaller parish-based settings throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Schoenstatt will serve as the conference’s “home base” from which most of the programming will be livestreamed to parishes. Parishes will be able to customize their own programming around the live talks, offering Mass, devotions or meals as their own schedule and venue space allows.
Fr. John LoCoco, Vocation Director for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, will serve as the emcee for the event. The morning’s featured speaker list includes:
— Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, who will offer thoughts on living out one’s vocation with courage. He will also give a father/son blessing, said O’Brien.
— Mike Sweeney, five-time Major League Baseball all-star first baseman and member of the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame. Sweeney is a 20-year veteran of professional baseball who now works as a Special Assistant to Baseball Operations/Leadership Development for the Kansas City Royals. Sweeney’s talk is entitled “Putting on the Armor of God, the MLB Way.” “He’s going to give a perspective of how important faith is in our life, and how to become a virtuous man — and the idea that virtue equals strength,” said O’Brien.
— Fr. John Burns, a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, bestselling author and speaker, who will discuss spiritual battles and the importance of the sacraments.
— Bart Schuchts, founder of Church on Fire and former NFL player who has visited the Archdiocese of Milwaukee several times before with the John Paul II Healing Center’s Healing the Whole Person retreat. His talk is entitled “Take Back What Belongs to God,” and he will address the importance of “engaging in the culture, not hiding from it,” said O’Brien.
O’Brien will also give a talk, and he said there will be a number of “surprise topics” covered throughout the day’s agenda.
The hybrid model of the conference also allows it to extend beyond the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Parishes in Illinois, Michigan and New York have already signed up as satellite locations, and O’Brien expects parishes from even more states to join before the event date.
“We think we might be able to reach more than 5,000 men this year,” he said.
The three-part mission of the Men of Christ apostolate is to evangelize, catechize and unify men in their call to live boldly for God.
“To evangelize a man’s heart, we use the conference experience,” O’Brien said. “We then move them from the conference experience into dynamic men’s groups — we want to catechize them because you can’t love what you don’t know. We want to form the men in their faith.” Men of Christ Dynamic Men’s Groups operate at the parish level at dozens of Catholic churches throughout the archdiocese.
In the final aspect of their mission — unification — O’Brien said Men of Christ wants to combat the disenfranchisement and isolation that faces modern men.
“We want to be the source that brings us together as a Catholic community, uniting the family, uniting with the diocese, uniting with other ministries and apostolates that are out there,” he said. “There’s a clarion call to evangelize men. To help them live up to their heroic vocation as Christian men and fathers. We’re trying to yell it from the rooftop and counter that negative culture, specifically in the Church. We want to bring men back to the parish because that’s where Christ lives.”
To find a location to attend the Men of Christ conference or to register your parish as a host site, visit menofchrist.net.