By Glenn Rutherford, Record Editor
The organizers of this year’s Archdiocese of Louisville Catholic Men’s Conference are expecting around 800 men to attend this year’s event at St. Michael Church.
In fact, that anticipated number might be conservative — the third annual conference will, after all, feature as its keynote speaker Jesuit Father James Martin, a nationally-known figure who has gained prominence as the “chaplain” of the popular Colbert Report television show.
But the conference leaders aren’t leaving anything to chance. On Jan. 29 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. they will be holding an event called the “Catholic Men’s Conference Circle of Champions Dinner,” also at St. Michael Church. It’s sort of a pre-conference conference; an effort to have representatives of each of the Archdiocese of Louisville’s 111 parishes present so that they might then carry word about the March 22 men’s conference back to the people of their church.
The way David Such sees it, the creation of parish “champions,” people who’ll represent the men’s conference at their parish, is a way of expanding the news of the event and spreading the leadership role to a larger group of men.
“For the last couple of years the deacons have been our go-to people at each parish,” said Such, one of the leaders of the conference since its inception.
“We’re trying to find people who will ‘champion’ our cause, people on the lay side of the church who’ve said in the past that they’d like to help. This will give them that opportunity.”
Get one or two people from each parish, Such explains, and the effect could be likened to throwing a stone in a pond.
“The ripples from the stone keep expanding,” he noted, “and we’re hoping that in the same way, our ‘champions’ will expand the knowledge of the men’s conference and, as a result, participation in it.”
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz will attend the Circle of Champions dinner, as will Patrick Henry Hughes, the blind young man who gained national attention from his story of personal perseverance and his participation in the University of Louisville marching band. Both men will be part of the March 22 program.
“At this dinner, we will ask the men attending — both deacons and parish representatives — to help us get the message together, to help us spread the news of our conference theme which is ‘Many Men, One Faith,’ ” Such explained.
The Circle of Champions attendees will be given packets of information about the conference to be shared with the men of their parishes, and they’ll also be provided a preview of the agenda for what Such says “is shaping up to be our best conference yet.”
The dinner and the seeking of representatives within each parish of the archdiocese, he said, gives the conference organizers “a chance to watch the event grow exponentially.”
“We have a chance to have our representatives meet other men, shake their hands and tell them why this event is important.”
Such said he and other members of the conference leadership team realize that they need to identify a new group of future leaders, and it’s hoped that the Circle of Champions Dinner will help with that task.
“This is a rally cry for men not to just sit back and observe their faith in the parish, but to become directly involved, to become leaders,” he said.
Men planning to attend the Circle of Champions dinner should call Clare Vize at the Chancery at 585-3291, or reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org by Jan. 20.
The dinner will be held at the St. Michael Church’s Griner Center. The church is located at 3705 Stone Lakes Drive, off of Taylorsville Road near the Gene Snyder expressway.