Following in the footsteps of Women of Christ’s successful conference in 2020, and Madison’s Men of Christ event, organizers at Men of Christ in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee have come together to make this year’s conference their most successful. Already, it’s slated to be the largest they’ve ever had.
Men of Christ Executive Director Kevin O’Brien said, “It’s in our nature as human beings to want to be together, and we want to honor that.” They’ve created a hybrid model conference that allows local parishes across the archdiocese to host a virtual event. “We give them prerecorded messages that each coordinator plays to their gathered group of 10-150 men.”
Attendees will hear virtually from Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, Pro-Life speaker Jason Jones, RealLife Catholic speaker Chris Stefanick, and have live messages from local priests and seminarians during a morning of Mass that includes confession and socially distanced fellowship.
“It’s a lot like what we’ve done before, just shorter,” O’Brien said. They want each parish to have its own flexibility with time and the speakers that come in to give their talks live.
O’Brien calls it “plug and play,” where parishes can work around regularly scheduled Mass, have their own staff do introductions to the videos, and have as much freedom as they want on the day of the event. He said, “We give them the playbook, best practices, the videos, and they put it in and design how they want to do it.” They hope that there will be opportunity for the men to turn and talk to one another in between the videos, and find the brotherhood that so many have lacked this year in particular.
O’Brien said there’s a hunger for messages of hope and leadership, that from what he’s seen, men want to be together to hear a message of truth in a time of anxiety and worry. He said the culture of doubt has pushed Catholics to examine their hearts and find hope and unity, and through this day of prayer and fellowship, he thinks many will come to the place that their heart desires. “One of the things we say is that Men of Christ is an apostleship of friendship,” he said. They believe that with stronger fathers, you have stronger families, and that stronger families lead to a stronger Church, and ultimately a healthy and stronger society.
With 20 parishes already signed up, they’re seeing excitement for it rumbling. “We have parishes that haven’t really even participated in the past signing up,” O’Brien said. “We’re trying to create something easy for men to walk into because we know that many have left their churches since the start of COVID and not come back.”
With enthusiasm growing, Men of Christ is reaching out to parishes in other dioceses who have expressed interest. La Crosse, Superior, and Green Bay are just a few of the places where the conference will be shown and organizers are working with them so they can not only bloom where they were planted in Milwaukee, but the ripple effect will carry on throughout the state.
“There’s nothing more important than your spiritual nourishment and health,” O’Brien said. “We’re going into the deep to give a personal invitation to every man we meet. We want to show those that don’t understand why we go to Mass, why watching it on TV isn’t the same, (and) why being there when his body is consecrated can change everything.”
If you’re interested in having the Men of Christ conference at your parish, discuss with your pastor, gather your team, then register at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdcKPS3oHB4CUYV8Yia2umHg-MU7cBOapCTli5C31bDSV7XiA/viewform.