The responsibilities of being a solid family spiritual leader have never been easy but they can be especially daunting for today’s Catholic man. The nuclear family unit is seemingly under constant attack. Human life has been greatly devalued. Words like “integrity” and “respect for authority” often ring hollow like some relic from a bygone era. What are the challenges facing Catholic men as they seek to become devoted, faithful husbands, loving fathers and dependable co-workers?
Back in 2008, Joe Dentice and a number of other men at St. Leonard Parish in Muskego realized that something very important – spirituality – was definitely lacking in their lives.
“We realized that we didn’t have any really strong spiritual formation for men in our parish,” Dentice explained. “The Knights of Columbus, although strong, really didn’t have a spiritual focus to it. We realized that men coming together to learn about their faith, sharing their experiences and what they’re going through was something that we needed. We saw a real need there and we started to get the word out. A lot of guys expressed immediate interest and it took off from there.”
Today, the St. Leonard Men’s Group has 60 members and continues to grow. Dentice points one event in 2008 that provided the spark for a new spiritual beginning for the men his church – The Men of Christ conference in Milwaukee.
“I’ve been to all but one of the conferences and each conference has been a little bit different with new speakers and new opportunities to grow in faith,” said Dentice. “I always look forward to that it’s going to be different. I’m going to hear something different and I’m going to be touched and moved in a different way.”
“As we grow in our brotherhood in both our parish and our men’s group, obedience to Christ takes on a greater meaning. Christ was the model of obedience and we have to do the same. We have to seek the Lord’s will, ask for understanding and then have the courage and the strength to follow that and be obedient even if it means doing the hard things. And in this culture, it certainly means we will have to do some hard things.”
Indeed, obedience is the theme for the 2017 Men of Christ conference which will be held on Saturday, April 1 at the Milwaukee Theatre downtown. Titled “Obedience Amid the Rebellion,” it is a Catholic conference for men of all ages. It offers a chance to re-connect with God and to begin a journey to order within the family, the church and in our communities.
The vision of the Men of Christ is to “create an environment that will evangelize, catechize, and unify Catholic men. The mission is to honor Jesus Christ by bringing Catholic men together, thereby forming a brotherhood that will empower each man to boldly live his Catholic faith.”
“Most people will point to the great speakers at this conference and we’ve really learned so much from them over the years,” said Dan Domanski a member of the St. Leonard men’s group and Parish Captain for the Men of Christ conference. “But so much of it is just the matter of having 2,500-3000 men together, there’s over a hundred priests hearing confession which is incredible and there’s Eucharistic adoration outside around the building.
“The conference is part of the whole experience and it’s the “Super Bowl” for men’s groups. But really, there’s definitely bonding at the event but it’s really the bonding that occurs the all year that is really started by this event. The St. Leonard men’s group would not exist today if it wasn’t for the Men of Christ conference.”
“It’s a great time to rejuvenate yourself get into the Word of God and to know that you’re actually there with 3,000 other men,” added Alan Lett, leader of the St. Leonard Men’s Ministry. “The thing I get out of it most is just being there with so many other men. It’s really powerful to know that we are banding together as men to make our church different.”
The 2017 Men of Christ conference will open with an optional Mass at 7 a.m. with the official start coming at 9 a.m. A closing Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Jerome Listecki at 4 p.m. More than 100 priests will hear confessions throughout the day and men will have the opportunity to build a special bond with their son with a powerful Father/Son blessing which has become a conference favorite.
As is the tradition with this extremely popular conference, attendees will have an opportunity to hear from several outstanding speakers, including:
Dr. Scott Hahn
Dr. Hahn speaks internationally regarding Scripture and Catholicism. He has helped thousands of Protestants and fallen-away Catholics to re-embrace the Catholic faith.
He has been awarded the Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he has taught since 1990, and is the founder and president of the Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology. From 2005 to 2011, he held the Pope Benedict XVI Chair of Biblical Theology and Liturgical Proclamation at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
Jason and Crystalina Evert have authored many books about chastity, including “How to Find Your Soulmate without Losing Your Soul” and “Theology of the Body for Teens.” He is a frequent guest on radio programs throughout the country, and his television appearances include Fox News, MSNBC, the BBC, and EWTN. After speaking solo for several years, he teamed up with Crystalina, and the two married in 2003. Crystalina is the author of Pure Womanhood, and runs the website Women Made New. With Jason, she is the co-founder of Chastity Project.
Romero speaks passionately about Catholic Evangelization, Bible Studies, Apologetics, Marriage/Family, Spiritual Warfare, Men’s and Teen Topics, and Culture-war issues. Romero has a Master’s Degree in Catholic Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH. Before and since then, he has spent his time teaching, speaking, writing, and giving Catholic Bible studies, Conferences, Missions and Retreats on all matters relating to the Catholic Faith.
Inspired by the words of these featured speakers and nurtured by the strength and support of some 3,000 other men, the hope once again is offer a fresh spiritual start, a renewed connection with God and greater insights into becoming a better man in today’s troubled world.
“I think the biggest challenge for men today is the way culture changes and the cultural shifts that are occurring,” said Domanski. “If I go back to when I was a kid it was a different world. To be Catholic, to be Christian and to be moral was pretty straightforward. Now, there are so many different voices saying that’s not the way to success. From television shows, news and on and on, these are the biggest challenges. Years ago, you took it for granted how you were supposed to act.”
“One of my primary focuses for men’s ministry and ministry in general is that the Catholic Church needs young people to get involved and Men of Christ is going in that direction more and more attracting younger guys to hopefully carry the faith forward,” said Tom Kies, Co-Founder of the St. Leonard men’s group.
“It’s challenging in today’s society to get the younger guys involved. Christ said, ‘I am with you always’ but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot more work to be done.”
For more information on the 2017 Men of Christ conference, please visit www.menofchrist.net.