Conference calls men to holiness first, then their household

More than 1,500 men gathered for the annual Catholic Men's Conference March 22 at Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

More than 1,500 men gathered for the annual Catholic Men’s Conference March 22 at Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

Some 1,500 men left the recent Catholic Men’s Conference affirmed in their brotherhood. They were challenged to take ownership of their lives and, for many, their families.

Catholic Men’s Conference Photos on Flickr

The seventh annual gathering, hosted by Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Phoenix, was one of three diocesan men’s conferences held across the United States March 22.

Their deep, booming voices echoed throughout Xavier College Preparatory’s Founders Hall as they offered a decade of the rosary for the nation, vowed to complete a homework assignment issued by a priest who speaks and writes about manhood, and sang during a closing liturgy. They laughed with several keynote speakers throughout the eight-hour event.

When Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares processed in with the Blessed Sacrament to lead Benediction, they immediately fell silent. It was the same silence dozens of men offered in the adoration chapel throughout the day.

Tom Kuehn called himself “an adoration guy,” but didn’t come solely for the silence. He also came so Fr. Larry Richards, one of several guest speakers, could further challenge him. Kuehn, who was visiting from Minnesota while researching his next book, was one of many men at the conference who wasn’t hearing Fr. Richards for the first time.

“His stuff is tough,” said Kuehn, who has been through Fr. Richards’ 10-week series on becoming a man. Two of his sons are voluntarily in it now.

Resources for Catholic men

Fr. Richards, who wrote “Be a Man! Becoming the Man God Created You To Be,” told those gathered about the importance of passing on a legacy of prayer and love.

“Don’t let your culture determine your faith,” Fr. Richards said.

Kuehn did for a while. Though he later spoke with and met his father, that wasn’t who raised him. Finally Kuehn realized that by seeking his heavenly Father, he could learn valuable life lessons.

“That’s how I found how to live as a man: through Scripture,” said Kuehn, who called the conference a “no-brainer way to spend a Saturday.”

Lately he’s finding solid inspiration in the book of Sirach on the mechanics of being a man. That’s what Ernest Del Rio III came to the conference looking for. The Grand Knight at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Maricopa was among several first-time attendees.

“I wanted to keep getting new tools for my spiritual bag of tricks for my family,” said del Rio, who is also a parishioner at St. Benedict in Phoenix.

Carmelite Sister Regina Marie Gorman helped him realize he needs to make himself spiritually sound first in order to be of best service to his family. She said discipleship, conversation — with others and with Christ — and total dependency on Christ are key.

“If you’re the pilot of your household and you’re not with Christ, where are you taking your flight?” Sr. Regina Marie said.

Steering closer to Christ is a big part of why St. Mary Magdalene parishioner Paul Maruer challenged himself and his wife to attend Mass daily Mass during Lent. He’s also trying to read Scripture daily, even if it’s only for five minutes.

Jason Evert, a nationally known chastity author and speaker, emphasized the importance of a father’s gift of presence. He gave away plenty of free resources for Catholic men and dads to help on that front.

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