Conference encourages men to live out their faith
By David Myers
Approximately 800 men gathered for "Man to Man," the second annual Catholic men’s conference held Feb. 22 at San José Parish in Austin. Sponsored by the Central Texas Fellowship of Catholic Men, the four-hour conference focused on bringing Catholic men together to inspire them to be more involved in living out their faith.
Featured speakers for the event included Father Larry Richards, founder and president of The Reason for our Hope Foundation, an organization dedicated to spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ through personal speaking engagements and multimedia resources; Justin Fatica, founder of the Hard as Nails Ministry, which works with churches, schools and other organizations to develop and improve their programs for youth and young adults; and Bill and Billy Moyer, a father-and-son team who lead the SOS Leadership Institute, an Austin-based company committed to developing leaders who make a difference.
Father Richards, keynote speaker for the conference, asked men to commit to spending at least 5 minutes a day in prayer with God and to build on that. "If you are going to be a man, you need a sword. And what is that sword? The word of God. You have to spend time with God in his word," he said.
He pointed out that men spend great amounts of time and effort pursuing goals of this world while not putting in the time they should for the ultimate goal, life with God in Heaven. "Young men have no qualms about putting in hours of practice each day in order to be good at football or another sport to win a championship. When it comes to living out their faith, they say they ‘attend Mass on Sunday and pray now and then.’ You need to pray every day. God needs to be your first priority."
To be powerful is to serve, explained Father Richards. "If you want to be a man, look at Jesus Christ. Read the Scriptures and underline his characteristics. Jesus was a man. He put others first. He prayed."
Justin Fatica challenged the gathered men to recognize the power that they have in themselves because they are children made by God.
"We are powerful," emphasized Fatica. "But that means we have work to do. All of us have weaknesses. But that is what makes us strong because it is our weaknesses we take to Christ."
Sometimes serving Christ means you have to be willing to be rejected, Fatica said. "Are you willing to be rejected for what is good?" he asked the conference attendees.
Bill Moyer, who helped plan and promote the event for the Central Texas Fellowship of Catholic Men, said last year’s men’s conference yielded results. Parishes throughout the Austin Diocese that already had established groups for men experienced a 25 percent increase in membership. Four parishes started up new groups for men.
"These groups have been created to give men an opportunity to gather together and share their faith as men," Moyer said. "We want to see men step out and live out their faith through being better husbands, fathers and responsible members of the community. We want to encourage men to come together in Christian fellowship."
Moyer said the plan is to lengthen the conference in the future to a full day and offer liturgy, confession, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as part of the program.
Luis Gonzalez of Santa Cruz Parish in Buda attended the first annual men’s conference in 2013 and returned this year. Gonzalez, who serves as a police officer in Austin, gave as his reason for coming back to this year’s conference, "I want to do more."
"I grew up Catholic, attending Mass and CCD classes, and faith was a part of my family’s life. But I want to learn more about my faith. These conferences are a good way to bring men together. There are many things for children and for women, and it’s good to have something like this for men," Gonzalez said.
David Camarillo, a state of Texas employee and member of St. James Parish in Gonzales, which is in the Diocese of San Antonio, attended the conference for the first time this year.
"I am a believer in leadership by example. I especially believe that it is important to engage and involve young people in the faith. The men’s conference is a good way to encourage this among men," he said.
Planning for the 2015 men’s conference is already underway. Moyer said that conference is set for Feb. 21, and the featured speaker will be Jesse Romero of On Fire Evangelization.
For more information about the Central Texas Fellowship of Catholic Men, visit www.ctfcatholicmen.org.
Mark your calendars
Bishop Joe Vásquez will celebrate the sixth annual Men’s Mass July 19 at 10 a.m. at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin. Men throughout the Austin Diocese are invited to celebrate the Eucharist. This Mass is sponsored by the Central Texas Fellowship of Catholic Men (CTFCM). A reception will follow in the Bishop’s Hall. For more information about CTFCM, visit www.ctfcatholicmen.org.