Hays — Are you ready? This is the question that will be asked during the Eighth Annual Men’s Conference from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 10 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Hays. Peter Herbeck and Pete Burak, both with ties to Renewal Ministries in Michigan, will be the keynote speakers. The conference theme is “Are you Ready? … Engaging the Spiritual Battle.”
“We’ll talk about the universal call to holiness and the universal call to mission,” Herbeck said. “We’ll talk about the great commission, engaging in evangelization. Right now, it’s challenging to do that. People don’t want to identify publically with the Church.”
Renewal Ministries was founded in 1980, with the mission to evangelize. Being Catholic can be challenging, and Herbeck said recently it’s been more difficult. “Many wonder what’s going on in the church and how we respond to it,” he said. “Some are confused, angry and leaving the Church. There is a range of human responses.” Herbeck said men tend to be action-oriented, and often sitting in church on a Sunday can feel passive. “If you’re not engaging Christ on a daily basis in prayer and growing in spiritual life, you can feel disconnected as a guy,” he said. “They don’t know what to do, they start twiddling their thumbs.
“We love to challenge men. Spirituality starts in your home. Do you pray every day? Do you read the scriptures?”
The implications are broader than the personal relationship with Christ, he said. “When boys see their father praying early in the morning or know that dad would never miss Mass, then more boys see religion as a possibility,” Herbeck said. Herbeck said it is essential for the father in a household to set the religious tone for prayer and a relationship with Jesus. “It’s difficult for the boys to engage in their faith if it looks like the father is passive,” he said.
Burak leads i.d.9:16, which was begun by Renewal Ministries in 2011. “i.d.9:16 is trying to form young adults, in their 20s and 30s, single or married, into intentional disciples of Jesus Christ,” he said.
The program, which has 16 chapters across the U.S. and Canada, holds monthly meetings called “Disciples Night” where all chapters watch a live video and tweet in questions or comments. i.d.9:16 works with parishes to identify and form leaders to help facilitate the groups. The program also provides more than two dozen videos for men’s and women’s discipleship groups to watch and discuss at their meetings. Additionally, i.d.9:16 offers mission trips and yearly retreats. “We provide ongoing content and vision to help parishes to reach those in the pews, and more importantly those who are not,” Burak said.
The duo of Herbeck and Burak have presented together in the past, and speaking specifically at a men’s conference is an excellent opportunity. “By pulling the men out, we can highlight the challenges and opportunities specifically to men,” Burak said. “We hope the conference is a place where people can meet Jesus but feel commissioned to fulfill the mission of the Church, which is to seek and save the lost.”
Burak and his wife, Cait, have been married for eight years and have four children. Herbeck and his wife, Debbie, have been married for 33 years and have four children and seven grandchildren. In addition to the conference, which runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, a Friday evening event with the speakers is open to all on Aug. 9. The annual Runnin’ Revs basketball game will be played in the Holy Family Gymnasium at 6:30 p.m. Following the game, pizza will be served to all at 7:45 p.m. in the Little Theatre at Holy Family. At 8 p.m., Burak and Herbeck will give a combined speech to the group. The evening will conclude at 8:45 p.m. with night prayer in the church at Immaculate Heart of Mary.
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. 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/family-life.