At conference, bishop urges men to be forces for good at home, in the world

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Men attending this year’s Catholic Men’s Conference at Xavier College Preparatory Feb. 4 pray during the closing Mass. (Justin Bell/CATHOLIC SUN)
2017 Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Phoenix Conference
Did you miss the 2017 conference or know someone who did? Click here to download the speaker talks here.

More than 1,300 men stood shoulder to shoulder Feb. 4 to examine and to improve upon the relationships in their lives as husbands, fathers, friends, leaders and witnesses for Christ.

The annual Catholic Men’s Conference focused on “Into the Breach,” the apostolic exhortation from Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted that has resonated deeply with Catholic men across the country since its release in the fall of 2015. While last year’s conference focused on the “interior breach,” this year’s focused on the “domestic breach” found in the parish, community and family.

The men gathered at Xavier College Preparatory to learn from speakers and each other on how to strengthen their marriages, family and parishes, listen to Catholic speakers and pray alongside each other at Mass, celebrated by Bishop Olmsted.

“Catholic Answers” radio host Patrick Madrid was one of the keynote speakers for this year’s Catholic Men’s Conference. (Justin Bell/CATHOLIC SUN)

A common thread amongst the various speakers was one of intimacy and recognizing that Christ is the source of good works, and the importance of being present to wives and “just being men that are really truly present,” said Mike Phelan, conference organizer and diocesan director of the Office of Marriage and Respect Life.

Patrick Madrid, renowned Catholic author and radio host and one of the conference speakers, shared stories of those serving as God’s messengers and protectors. He recalled the moment his father subdued a large, would-be intruder during his childhood. Madrid was struck how his father had put his safety on the line to defend his family.

Madrid also shared how a woman once called him on his show and told how Madrid’s earlier words on the air had really impacted her son. The son then admitted to his practice of viewing pornography and sought help. Madrid had said that when one looks at internet pornography, recalling a desk and computer, they are building an altar to the devil. He said he was not intending his words to come out that way, but ultimately it helped the woman’s son.

Addressing the conference-goers, Phelan urged the men to spend time in Eucharistic Adoration, and for those who are married to spend more time with their wives and offer an apology for not being more present. He spoke of young men learning how to deal with silence and the virtue of turning off the cell phone and getting away from screens. He suggested to the men to get their homes blessed.

During his homily at the vigil Mass, Bishop Olmsted reminded the men of Jesus’ words in the Gospel.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted exhorted those attending the 2017 Catholic Men’s Conference about the importance of salting the conversation with truth and standing up for the orphan, widow, refugee and immigrant. (Justin Bell/CATHOLIC SUN)

“To every disciple, every person baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit for 2,000 years, Jesus said and He still says, ‘You are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world,’” Bishop Olmsted said.

The bishop noted that this is who Christians are and that it is up to them to decide to be who they are.

He recalled in the months before his ordination as a priest a librarian told him, “Remember Thomas, the most diabolical of all temptations is discouragement.”

He said that salt mixes in with other things and stressed the importance of salting the conversation with truth and standing up for the orphan, widow, refugee and immigrant.

In his concluding remarks, Bishop Olmsted said that “it was on the cross that Jesus conquered the darkness of sin.”

“The triumph of the cross is the triumph of light over darkness, over the shadow of death,” Bishop Olmsted said. “Go forth into the breach where people are enslaved by sin and shame and scandal, there where sadness and despair are legion. Be who Jesus created you to be: salt of the earth and light of the world.”

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