Yesterday, 2200 of my fellow Catholic brothers and I attended the Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Phoenix – Men’s Conference at Grand Canyon University. It was the first men’s conference I was able to attend and to say the least it was a blessed and holy Saturday. Early yesterday morning I picked my friend Bill and his son, Noah, at their home. We first stopped and picked up some delicious breakfast burritos from Los Favoritos in Scottsdale and then proceeded to the West Valley to attend the men’s conference. We arrived 15 minutes before the doors opened and happily ran into Michael Poirier and his son bringing in CD’s that he was going to sell at the conference. As we walked up to the front of the arena, there was at least a few hundred men already standing outside – they were ready and wanted to get inside to start the day.
During the entire conference, we were inspired, encouraged, and challenged by some very talented Catholic speakers. Our own Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted kicked off the day for us speaking about Fatherhood. We are so blessed in the Diocese of Phoenix to have such a loving and holy shepherd leading us. He is truly a man of God! He has completely taken a diocese that was torn and broken and turned it into one of the best diocese in the western part of the United States. We are growing and getting stronger as faithful Catholics by the day because of Bishop Olmsted.
We also heard from Hector Molina, Scott Hahn, Fr. John Lankeit (Fr. Thomas Roscia was unable to fly out of Toronto due to the snowstorm), Dr. Jonathan Reyes, Dr. William Chavira, and Terry Kennedy emceed the entire day. We were led in song by the music of Chris Muglia. Dr. William Chavira’s testimony about the evils of contraceptives was one of the most touching and inspiring testimonies I have ever heard on a retreat/conference. His words pierced a lot of hearts in that arena and I imagine there are many men now talking about contraceptive/birth control with their wives.
Hector Molina fired up the conference by teaching us the story of Lazarus, Dr. Hahn taught us about the New Evangelization, Fr. John Lankeit gave us the fire and brimstone of preparing our lives for Christ, and Dr. Jonathan Reyes shared with us the pragmatic and simple ways of being a great Catholic man. Woah! It was quite day and now writing this I realize how much the day impacted me. My favorite talk was from Dr. Jonathan Reyes for many reasons. One would be that he gave me simple steps to improve my relationship with Christ and with others and second, he presents like I do – strong and simple!
Another awesome part of the day was when I witnessed hundreds and I mean, HUNDREDS of Catholic men standing in line (some for up to 3 hours) to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. For Phoenix, it was a cold day in February – 55 degrees – to see all those sinful men (yes, we have to admit that we are sinful) standing out in the “cold” weather to receive the abundant grace that comes from being forgiven of sin. Seeing so many priests, and Bishop Olmsted, sitting in white plastic chairs hearing Confession was a sight for the eyes.
I encourage you to check out Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Phoenix to read more about the day. If you don’t have a group like this in your diocese, then it’s time to get off the sidelines, put your New Evangelization gear on and get to work. Brothers – we need to be Catholic men not afraid to stand up against the evils of the post-modern anti-Christian world we live in today. It’s an epic time to be alive and we are being called to live like epic heroes for Christ and his Catholic Church. As Bishop Olmsted said today in his homily at the closing Mass quoting our Lord Jesus Christ – we must “put out into the deep” and “Be Not Afraid.”
If you attended the event, please share with us in the comment box things that you enjoyed or took away from the conference. Please share this post with fellow brothers in Christ who attended the conference as well.