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March conference to encourage Catholic men in faith

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It isn’t easy to be a Catholic man these days. So says Scot Landry, a parishioner at St. Paul Church in Cambridge.

"There is a great difficulty for men wishing to take their Catholic faith seriously," remarked Landry during a recent interview. "Men have been given many differing models of masculinity -- from society, from our families, from our faith."

"Catholic men need other Catholic men to teach us, support us, pray with us and sustain us," he continued.

Landry, together with five other lay men and two members of the clergy, has helped coordinate the first Boston Catholic Men’s Conference — a one-day retreat for all men: married, single, clergy, religious, young and old — which will be held on Saturday, March 19 at Boston College High School.

"The conference is designed to bring men together to examine their faith in Christ and how it influences, informs and sustains their lives as Christian disciples, husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, work colleagues, priests, seminarians, deacons," he explained.

According to Landry, the conference has its origins in a men’s group in St. Paul Church in Cambridge. Several members had attended other Catholic Men’s conferences throughout the United States and desired to see one held here in the Archdiocese of Boston.

Inspired by the Red Sox motto, the members began to ask themselves, “Why not us,” Landry recalled.

"We asked that question of ourselves and decided to approach Archbishop Seán [O'Malley] with the idea. He enthusiastically supported it and the Conference took off like a rocket since that meeting," Landry said.

Landry hopes the men attending the conference will be “moved to see so many regular guys just like them who love Jesus in addition to their wives, jobs, the Red Sox and the Patriots.”

"Following Christ is a team sport," he continued. "But Christ doesn't just call us to be a team, he calls us to be a great team."

The one-day conference will feature five keynote addresses, including actor Jim Caviezel, best known for his portrayal of Christ in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” and Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza and Ave Maria University.

"Our speakers will address the confusion and difficulty of being a Christian man today," Landry said.

One of those scheduled to address the Men’s Conference is Father Philip Merdinger, chaplain of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men and adjunct spiritual director at St. John’s Seminary.

Speaking to The Pilot, Father Merdinger praised the growing number of men’s conferences. “The Boston Men’s Conference is part of something much larger happening in our country,” he said.

According to Father Merdinger, 35 men’s conferences will take place this year in different parts of the country. This is a “rather new initiative” on the part of lay men reaching out to other lay men, he said, “to get guys to start talking, not just about their responsibilities, but about themselves, about their faith.”

The conference will conclude with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop O’Malley.

In a letter sent to the conference’s organizers, the archbishop supported their effort, saying “The Men’s Conference will lead the church in Boston toward a deeper renewal in serving Christ. Now is the time for men of all generations to rise up to the challenge for the mission of the Church.”

According to Landry, “the response of men has been overwhelmingly positive.” To date, over 300 have pre-registered, with promises of hundreds more from within the archdiocese as well as from other parts of New England.

Landry also noted that the registration fee of $35 is being waived for priests, deacons and seminarians. “We wanted to thank our brothers who have given their lives for the Church,” he said.

Although Landry is pleased with the response, he also noted that “the biggest challenge we have faced is just trying to get the word out.”

"We still need many more men willing to invite their friends, fathers, sons, brothers, pastors," he commented.

For more information on the Boston Catholic Men’s Conference, or to register for the event, www.bostoncatholicmen.org or contact Scot Landry at 617-316-1098.

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