Hays — Some familiar faces will be present at the Seventh Annual Diocesan Men’s Conference on Aug. 11 in Hays. Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M., Cap., who hails from Concordia and attended St. Francis Seminary High School in Victoria, will be one of the two speakers at the conference, which is themed “Men of God.” He will be joined by nationally known radio host John Martignoni, who hosts “EWTN Open Line” on EWTN Radio.
Archbishop Chaput said he is delighted to be returning to his home diocese for the conference. “Kansas has its own special beauty, and a lot of that beauty comes from the people who live here,” he said. “You can take the boy out of Kansas, but not Kansas out of the boy.”
The annual men’s conference is hosted by the Salina Diocese office of Family Life. The event will feature the speakers, as well as Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, Reconciliation and lunch.
The conference theme is one both speakers laud. “To be men of God means making a daily effort to be holy; to consciously develop the virtues of courage, honesty, justice, prudence, self-discipline and patience,” Archbishop Chaput said.
Martignoni, who has spoken previously in the diocese, said he thinks the man’s role in the spiritual formation of a family has been de-emphasized. Studies have shown that children whose fathers regularly attend church are 85 to 90 percent likely to attend church themselves as adults. If only their mother attends church, the chance is about 25 percent.
“The impact of the father on the spiritual formation of the children is so great that adult men need proper formation right now,” he said. “In this environment we’re living in, it’s so much more important to get to the male right now.” He said the female’s role in the Church is equally important, but “the male has been neglected and overlooked, we have some catching up to do.”
Archbishop Chaput said today’s culture focuses on “toxic masculinity.” “There’s also an undercurrent of real contempt for male dignity and leadership that’s very unhealthy for society and demoralizing for young men,” he said Archbishop Chaput said he plans to discuss how young men “become real men in a Christian sense, despite all the conflicting pressures.” It’s essential for men to gather in fraternity. “In my experience, men are much less naturally social than women,” Archbishop Chaput said. “They have a tendency to be loners, but they also have a deep need for fraternity and mutual support. That need is particularly urgent now.”
Martignoni, who is married with four children ranging from ages 13 to 21, will talk about marriage and the Eucharist. He will explore the parallels, and extrapolate Church teaching based on those relationships. “Marriage is related to the Eucharist and the relationship with your wife is mirroring the relationship in the Trinity,” he said. “You need to be conscious of that in your marriage. That’s the goal of the talk — to get men to open up their eyes to that possibility and reality.”
He will also explore the parable of the Good Samaritan. On the surface, Martignoni said it’s a nice story about loving your enemies, because the Samaritans were the sworn enemy of the Jewish people. Yet it’s more than that. “It’s not just the corporal works of mercy, it’s the spiritual works of mercy as well,” he said. “So many forget the spiritual works of mercy. The spiritual works of mercy are just as if not more important than the corporal works of mercy.”
The conference is open to men, including students from middle school and older. “Everybody should come,” Archbishop Chaput said. “This will be an extraordinary conference; an opportunity not just to learn but to reinforce each other with good will, humor and fellowship. As I said earlier, men need fraternity, and the conference is an ideal place to deepen or begin building it.”
Martignoni agrees, and says the talks will enrich many aspects of a man’s life. “If your Catholic faith truly means something to you and you really want your faith to impact your family’s faith, then my question is: What are you willing to do to strengthen that faith?” he said. “Are you willing to come to a men’s conference? Are you willing to give up one day to strengthen that faith? “It’s not just about you. It’s about your wife, it’s about your kids. If you’re single, it’s about your future wife, future kids. If you will be a priest, it’s about your people and the people you will be pastoring one day. It’s not just about you.”
One difference conference attendees will notice this year is that those who register in advance will have the option to reserve an “assistive listening device,” which will take the audio from the microphones and feed it directly into an earpiece. “In response to the 2017 post-conference surveys, we are making hearing devices available to men who preregister for the conference,” said Corey Lyon, Director of the Office of Family Life. “It is our hope that everyone will be able to hear and understand the speakers clearly from any seat.” The hearing assistance devices do not cost extra; but preregistration is required.
Fathers are encouraged to register and attend with their sons. Seminarians, deacons and priests attend for free, but must RSVP. The cost for the conference is $35 for an adult. Middle school, high school and college students may register for $15. Fathers who bring one son pay $40. There are additional options for multiple sons. After Aug. 1, registration increases by $10 per person; Registration is accepted the day of the conference at the door.
For more information or to register online, go to: http://salinadiocese.org/home/events/men-s-conference.