Men’s Conference: Living your Faith each day Print this post

Prayer, Confession emphasized by speakers at fourth annual event

by Bob Reddy (Editor, Florida Catholic)

FORT MYERS – Any day that includes prayer, fellowship, internal reflection, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and concludes with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a productive and special day.

This is what the hundreds who attended the Fourth Annual Diocese of Venice Men’s Conference experienced in a few short hours on Feb. 25 atBishopVerotHigh SchoolinFort Myers. The men were able to hear interesting speakers who reached them on a personal level while also serving to inspire them.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane said the conference offers a unique opportunity to grow in Faith as a group. “The lessons learned at this conference will be carried with you throughout your life. You have all been called to follow Christ; it is a call to conversion as you gain the strength you need to live the life you are called to.”

Mike Matson, of St. Agnes Parish inNaples, brought his 17-year-old son, Nate, to the conference. While the two do spend quality time together – going fishing and participating in other sports — the conference served as a special father-son opportunity.

“This has been exciting to be a part of a day just for Catholic men,” Mike Matson said. “I brought Nate to help let him hear the great speakers and to spend quality time thinking about his Faith.”

Nate admitted that he had other plans for the Saturday, but was glad he went to the conference. “I really learned a lot; specifically about how I need to live my faith every day. That is easy to forget. You gain so much in such a short period of time. It was great.”

The important themes of the day were a call to daily prayer to open up a regular conversation with God, and the need to take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Conference emcee Doug Barry, co-host of “Life on the Rock” and founder and director of the Catholic apostolate RADIX, specifically for Catholic men, said that the idea of daily prayer is similar to having a daily conversation with your children. “If you don’t talk to them, you will never know them. You will never grow in your love for each other.”

One of the best ways to have a deep encounter with Jesus Christ is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. “Know that Confession is easy to go to and just as easy to fall from. Know that we all fall from grace. When we fall we must get back up. Confession helps us heal.” During the conference, priests from across the Diocese of Venice were available throughout the day for men to avail themselves of the Sacrament.

Florida Marlins’ World Series Manager Jack McKeon shared stories about living his faith openly and honestly. “I have been blessed throughout my life and attend dailyMass.I am confident that the power of prayer helped me persist in following my dream of being involved in Major League Baseball.”

McKeon never prayed to play baseball, he prayed to live his life as God called him, and let the rest work itself out. No matter what, he attended Mass each day, even taking non-Catholics to Mass if they needed a ride to a practice or a stadium. “I was never afraid of who I am. Being Catholic is who I am. So, as a result, I lived my life as an example to others.”

That example impacted others in a variety of ways. McKeon’s personal devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux became a special focus for the entire Florida Marlin organization as he managed the team to the 2003 World Championship.

In speaking of defending the Faith, Doug Barry said, “Now is your chance to prove your value. A true Catholic is always ready to defend the Faith, to change the cause of right and good.”

Barry built on the talk of Raymond DeSouza, who is a lay Catholic apologist and founder of St. Gabriel Communications, an international apologetics outreach. DeSouza explained how men need to act in defense of their Faith. “Be the lion. Stand up and be recognized. Let the world know that what the Catholic Church teaches is right and just. Being the lion means being the example for others. Be an outspoken man of faith.”

Eric Sammons, Diocese of Venice Director of Evangelization, spoke about some of the tools needed to defend the faith. He explained that key tool is to live your faith each day and be sure to have a daily encounter with Christ. This can be done through your personal interactions with others and through prayer.

The day concluded with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane. Music was provided by the Ave Maria Oratory Choir. Bishop Dewane concluded the day by reminding everyone to take what they learned with them and to spread the word to others to attend the conference in 2013.

The women of the Diocese of Venice will soon celebrate the Fourth Annual “Women of Faith… Women of Action” Conference on March 10 at Bishop Verot.

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