Men challenged to live with ‘passion and purpose’
By Burnie Cook
Nearly 1,100 men came together for the first men’s conference Feb. 16 at St. William Parish in Round Rock. The Central Texas Fellowship of Catholic Men (CTFCM) organized the conference, which featured Matthew Kelly, a well-known Catholic speaker, and Eliot Morris, a Christian singer and songwriter, on their "Passion & Purpose" tour.
CTFCM began in 2005 when Robert Tunmire of Waco asked then Bishop Gregory Aymond’s permission to start an organization for Catholic men. The group’s mission statement states they are "to encourage and embolden men to deepen their relationship with Christ, their family, their Church, their community; and to live their faith in everyday life."
For the last four years, CTFCM has hosted a Men’s Mass, but the group was looking for another event to strengthen men in their faith. Thus, the conference was established. Throughout the day, Kelly discussed Catholicism, and Morris led the men in song and praise.
Kelly, who is from Australia but now lives in Chicago, has a message of faith that is relevant to all, no matter where they are in their faith journey. In the first part of his conversation, he led the attendees on thoughts of "the voice of God." Everyone has a "spectrum of engagement," and this relates to everything from our finances, health, spiritual life and more. The more engaged we feel about something, the better we are able to find our true passion and purpose, he said.
To hear "the voice of God," we must seek personal clarity and this comes from a "classroom of silence," Kelly said.
Kelly also discussed Jesus’ question: "Who do you say that I am?" Everyone may have their own answer to this question, but we must remember "Jesus was and is radical, with radical teachings, and he wants radical transformation," he said.
In wrapping up the day, Kelly encouraged the crowd to "set the world on fire." This is in reference to St. Catherine of Siena who said, "If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire." He encouraged Catholics to be in mission mode, not maintenance mode. He encouraged people to build the kingdom of God rather than maintain it.
Throughout the day, Morris tied his music to many of the topics Kelly spoke about. Kelly’s speaking style is very conversational and dynamic. He used rhetorical questions to get the participants thinking about their roles as Catholics, parish leaders, husbands and fathers.
As Allwyn Rego, a parishioner of St. William Parish in Round Rock, said, "He meets you where you’re at … He is [really] motivating, encouraging and dynamic!"
The attendees were hungry for knowledge and direction; as Clay Cordill, a husband and father of a 4-year-old, came to "find focus and clarity outside of the normal routine."
David Seesing of St. Phillip Parish in China Spring feels the church is at a crossroads and now is the time for people to act.
"Now men need to be active, engaged, proud to be Catholic, put armor on [a reference to St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians; chapter 6], and we also need to be good husbands, teach our children … be models for our family and community," he said.
Robert Tavarez, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Austin and a husband and father, said the conference was the opportunity to reflect and improve.
"I can always be a better leader for my family; being in a retreat setting I’m able to reflect on where I need to improve," he said.
The 2013 Men’s Mass is set for July 20 at 10 a.m. at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin. For more information on the Central Texas Fellowship of Catholic Men, visit www.ctfcatholicmen.org or call (254) 867-0445.