Local Catholic leaders are encouraging young men in the Diocese of Phoenix to finish 2016 strengthened in their resolve to step “Into the Breach.”
A daylong conference Dec. 30 is aimed at fostering community and faith among high school and college-aged Catholic men, including seminarians. Last year’s inaugural gathering drew some 200 young men.
Each of them left strengthened not just by a series of energetic speakers and the sacraments, but also strengthened by a group blessing for the particular vocation they felt called to at that moment. Some stood up signaling their call to priesthood, others to marriage and others to religious life.
“It was important to pray for clarity in that calling and for strength to follow the Lord’s will,” said Fr. Paul Sullivan, diocesan vocations director, who is helping coordinate the Young Men’s Into the Breach Conference.
Young Men’s Into the Breach Conference
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Dec. 30
St. Bernadette Parish, 16425 N. 60th St. Scottsdale
This year’s event will gather teenagers, young adults and seminarians at St. Bernadette Parish in Scottsdale. The conference ends with Mass inside the new church which has been widely praised on social media for its beauty each time a picture or video of the structure emerges.
No men’s event would be complete without an outdoor physical activity and time for lunch and snacks. A series of videos and talks will round out the day. Fr. Fernando Camou and Fr. Will Schmid, who are less than a decade into their priesthoods, are among the speakers.
So is Jason Evert, a nationally-known chastity speaker and two men from St. Mary’s High School: campus minister Ryan Ayala and Tommy Brittain, who is finishing his first full season as head coach of the football program.
Ken Tamargo, a parishioner at St. Helen in Glendale and volunteer with Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Phoenix, brought his 11-year-old son to last year’s conference and discovered his son wasn’t the only pre-teen there. Tamargo’s son, Sam, found great value in “being around so many young men that are so open to Jesus.” Sam said it gave him knowledge in the faith, especially when living in a secular world.
The Young Men’s Conference draws its inspiration from the bishop’s apostolic exhortation, “Into the Breach,” aimed at encouraging Catholic men to boldly live their faith. The young men’s conference is purposefully poised between academic semesters. It allows seminarians and other young men studying outside of the Diocese of Phoenix a chance to re-engage with their peers.
“It is important for us to build up healthy camaraderie here in the Valley among men beginning at a young age,” Fr. Sullivan said.
He hopes young men in attendance realize they’re not alone in the desire to do great things for God. He also hopes they have fun, a goal other conferences often overtly omit, and that they leave inspired to seek God’s will for their lives as they see other men living the Lord’s plan.
More importantly, Fr. Sullivan hopes the young men leave “inspired to live virtuous lives in our world that is so in need of masculine examples of holiness and true strength.”