byChristopher S. Pineo
WORCESTER -- The 14th Annual Worcester Diocesan Catholic Men's Conference, April 5, offers Catholic men from all over the region a chance to share a day of fellowship and prayer with their peers.
The conference provides an opportunity to network with other faithful men and hear from guest speakers on faith topics, at Worcester's DCU center. The diocese becomes the first in the nation to have 14 annual conferences of this kind.
Msgr. Thomas Sullivan is the co-chair of the men's conference, a pastor, and has served as chancellor of the Diocese of Worcester.
"The Worcester conference has been so successful, and the caliber of the speakers so engaging, that it's a shame that people from the whole region can't come and participate, so we reach out to people in all the surrounding dioceses," Msgr. Sullivan said.
The invitation to the conference gives men in the Archdiocese of Boston the first chance to attend such a conference in more than three years.
In 2011, Organizers of the Boston Catholic Men's Conference announced that the conferences would be discontinued, after a number of years and drawing more than 5,000 men over the years. Venues for the Boston conference included the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Boston College's Conte Forum, and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
Organizers of the Boston Catholic Men's Conference announced that the conferences would no longer be held in 2011, after an active set of conferences since 2005 that drew an attendance of over 5,000. Venues for the Boston conference over the years included the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Boston College's Conte Forum, and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
The Worcester conference has a similar goal of helping men grow in their faith, and organizers structure the conference around that idea.
"One of the great ideas behind the conference is that Catholic men come and they are with all these other Catholic men -- 1,000 plus Catholic men, it's usually about 1,200 -- it's so great to be in that context of all men, all searching to deepen their faith, all wanting to be better husbands, or fathers, or Catholics," Msgr. Sullivan said.
The conference will include talks from Steve Ray, an author and convert to Catholicism, on proclaiming the Gospel in the face of modernist values; Gus Lloyd, an author and a former fallen-away Catholic, on re-evangelizing those who leave the Church; Father Francis J. Hoffman, executive director of Relevant Radio, on the importance of confession and the Eucharist; and Christopher West, a teacher on "Theology of the Body," on the deception surrounding modern attitudes towards sexuality.
"We get new speakers every year. We have only repeated speakers once or twice in all these 14 years. It's very engaging," Msgr. Sullivan said.
Bishop Robert J. McManus will celebrate Mass and deliver a homily at the conference.
According to Msgr. Sullivan, "It's like a shot in the arm for men, and for many it becomes almost like a Lenten retreat day. It's that shot in the arm they need, as they get ready for Easter."