By Glenn Rutherford, Record Editor
Two years ago when the first Archdiocese of Louisville Catholic Men’s Conference was held, it drew 430 people.
Last year that figure jumped to 650, and this year conference leaders think there is more than a good chance that 800 or so men — fathers, sons and grandfathers — will show up for the third annual event.
No one should bet against them.
For one thing, this year’s keynote speaker will be Jesuit Father James Martin, editor-at-large of America magazine — the same Father Martin now known as the “chaplain” of Stephen Colbert’s television show The Colbert Report. The same Father Martin who has contributed to The New York Times, CNN, National Public Radio, Fox News and on and on. He’s become something of a national media expert on Pope Francis and now he’ll be a keynote speaker at the third annual Catholic Men’s Conference.
The date will be March 22, and the location will be the new, spacious St. Michael Church hard by the Snyder Freeway and Taylorsville Road.
The theme this year is “Many Men; One Faith,” and within that theme is what conference leaders believe will be a notion that will motivate the 800 — or even more — men who come to the 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. conference.
David Such, the St. Bernadette parishioner who has helped organize the men’s conferences from the very beginning, puts it plainly and simply.
“We want each of those men to leave our conference, go back to their parish or home or community, and do one good thing,” he explained. “Eight-hundred men and if they each did just one good thing, that’s a lot of good being done right there.”
A great deal of good may well arise from the conference’s four “break-out” sessions, too. Each of them will deal with a subject that Pope Francis has spoken about or asked his church to address.
One breakout session will deal with the problem of homelessness, Such said. “We’re going to take notice of the work that high school students undertook to make certain those buried in a potter’s field were buried with dignity,” he cited as an example. “That story has received national attention, and we’ll deal with other subjects involving the issue — what the church can do to not only help the homeless but perhaps lessen the impact of the poverty that creates it.”
Another session will focus on the marginalized people in our community, and the work that agencies such as Catholic Charities and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul do to help them every day, Such said.
A third session will examine the role of a father — or what happens when a father isn’t around — in a child’s life. Such said that session will include suggestions of what young males, as well as males of any age, can do to get involved with children — including taking part in such organizations as the Eastern Area Christian Association, or the mentoring program offered through the Knights of Columbus.
And a fourth session will describe how to overcome barriers in life, and will feature Patrick Henry Hughes and his father, who gained national attention when Patrick — blind since birth — played trumpet in the University of Louisville marching band.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz will also be a keynote speaker at the event and provide opening comments when the conference gets underway.
And Such said that again this year conference leaders will arrange transportation for those who have no way to get to St. Michael’s, and there will be “scholarship” aid for those who can’t afford the $25 conference registration fee.
In other words, Such said, “if someone wants to come to the conference and thinks they can’t, we’ll help them get there.”
And there will be a way to register for the conference online again this year, too. The web address remains the same: www.cmclouisville.net.