Hundreds attend annual men’s conference

Amos Stinson, left, and Paul Burke, parishioners of St. Patrick Church, raised their hands in response to a question from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz at the Catholic Men’s Conference March 5. (Record Photo by Jessica Able)

Amos Stinson, left, and Paul Burke, parishioners of St. Patrick Church, raised their hands in response to a question from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz at the Catholic Men’s Conference March 5. (Record Photos by Jessica Able)

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

In order to have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, Catholic men need to read Scripture, devote time to prayer and spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

That’s one of the messages the 600 or so men gathered at the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Catholic Men’s Conference heard from Curtis Martin on March 5.

The fifth annual conference was again held at St. Michael Church in Jeffersontown.

Martin, the founder and chief executive officer of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), served as the keynote speaker at the day-long conference.

He addressed the conference on the day’s theme, “Made for More.”

Martin, whose ministry is focused on college campuses around the nation, addressed those who think they lack what it takes to develop a personal intimacy with Christ. He told those people, “God does not call the equipped; he equips the called.”

“God is not looking for ability. He’s looking for availability. If you will make yourself available, he will build the ability within you,” Martin said.

The second greatest gift God gave his people (after the gift of himself), Martin said, is time. He noted that there are two moments in time that are more important than all others: the present moment and the very last moment.

“Starting right now you get to write the rest of (your) story. … One of the ways we will glorify God forever is by rejoicing in what he did in and through our lives,” he said.

Martin left the men gathered at the conference with two practical principles to incorporate into their daily lives. He called the participants to “divine intimacy” with Christ and urged them to foster “authentic friendships.”

Martin said he hopes conference attendees commit more time to prayer with the Bible and in eucharistic adoration.

“Pope Benedict said, if we were to do this (daily prayer) as a church it would bring about the new spring time. Let’s take him up on his prophetic promise and be the kind of men that would do that,” he said.

He also called attendees to gather in small groups to encourage one another.

“This event is a result of a group of men banding together. All great things happen when great men band together. Not only will you accomplish great things, you will become better as you do,” he said.

Mark Oropilla, left, and Joe Oropilla, parishioners of St. James Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., listened to Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz during the Catholic Men’s Conference March 5. (Record Photo by Jessica Able)

Mark Oropilla, left, and Joe Oropilla, parishioners of St. James Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., listened to Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz during the Catholic Men’s Conference March 5.

That principle, Martin said, is the “secret” of Christianity. “God doesn’t want to use you to do great things. God wants to do great things in you.

“If you are what you are meant to be, you will set the world on fire. And, the world is waiting to be set on fire,” said Martin, concluding his presentation.

Martin, a father of nine, holds a master’s degree in theology and co-hosts the EWTN TV show Crossing the Goal. In 2004, Martin and his wife, Michaelann, were awarded the Benemerenti Medal by St. John Paul II, then pope, for their outstanding service to the church. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Martin as a Consulter to the Pontifical Council of the New Evangelization.

Men who attended the conference also heard from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz and Jeffrey Wright, a physics teacher at Male High School and parishioner of St. John Paul II Church.

The day concluded with Mass celebrated by the archbishop.

Harrison Drums, a student at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, and a parishioner of St. Aloysius Church in Pewee Valley, Ky., said he found Martin’s talk empowering.

“I liked the way he talked about men building each other up and how to bring that about,” said Drums, noting that Franciscan University has faith groups for men.

Drums also invited two of his Franciscan classmates, who were in Kentucky on spring break, to attend the men’s conference. One of those classmates, Stephen
Arpin, said that as a college student “a lot comes toward you.”

“This reminds you that you are not in control” but that God is, said Arpin, a native of Seattle.

Steve Paul, a parishioner of Most Blessed Sacrament Church, called the day-long conference “fantastic” and praised Wright and Martin as great speakers.

“The stories that are being told, they are hitting so close to home,” Paul said. “They have so much meaning to me.”

Devin Kelly, a student at the University of Louisville and a parishioner of Holy Trinity Church, said Martin’s talk was relevant to him as a young college student.

“Martin talked a lot about current social issues and he related them to the books in the Bible,” he said.

Kelly said Martin made Scripture passages come alive during his presentation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *