Men’s spirituality conference coming April 9

By George Gregory
Special to The CS&T

Do I want to deepen my relationship with God?

Do I want to be a true man of faith?

Do I want to be a better husband and father?

Men from throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will come together to reflect on these questions as they participate in the third annual Men’s Spirituality Conference, which will be held on Saturday, April 9, at Archbishop Ryan High School in Philadelphia.

This year’s theme is “Be Not Afraid,” in special reference to Gabriel’s words to Joseph, “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife,” and Jesus’ words to Simon Peter, “Do not be afraid; henceforth, you will be fishers of men.” {{more}}

“This men’s day of spirituality embodies the spirit of St. Peter’s mission as conferred upon him by Jesus Christ,” said Cardinal Justin Rigali, who will be the principal celebrant and homilist at the afternoon Mass closing the conference. “It is my prayer that this conference, through the power of the Holy Spirit, will deepen your commitment to Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church, and will inspire you to be a loving sign of Christ’s love to your families, parishes, neighborhoods and workplaces.”

These words reflect the goal of the conference, which is to sow and cultivate a deeper faith among the men of the Archdiocese, and call them to a greater sense of service to their communities, both inside the home and out.

This year’s conference will feature keynote presentations by Phil Martelli, men’s basketball head coach at St. Joseph’s University, and Fran Dunphy, head coach at Temple University. Martelli and Dunphy will focus on the theme “Leading Men to Excellence,” sharing how their Catholic faith has been the foundation of their personal and professional lives.

Former New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Danny Abramowicz will also speak, addressing the dynamic process of evangelizing men based on his own conversion story. The conference will also feature a presentation from author Brian Gail titled “Calling Men to be Fearless Fathers,” during which he will address the crisis of fatherhood and how Catholic Christian men can play a crucial role in the redemption of fatherhood.

Previous conferences have featured talks by NFL quarterback Rich Gannon, MLB all-star Mike Piazza, Philadelphia Police commissioner Charles Ramsey and lay evangelists Marcus Grodi and Jesse Romero.

Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and the opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation will be part of the conference, as well as a special presentation by Auxiliary Bishop John J. McIntyre, who will provide catechesis on the proper examination of conscience in preparation for going to confession.

“It is so rewarding to see men from around the Archdiocese who usually don’t participate in events like this come and go to confession for the first time in a long time,” said Don Saleski, a parishioner of St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Media and a member of the conference’s planning committee.

Mark Houck, a parishioner of St. Isidore Parish in Quakertown, who works full time in men’s ministry throughout the Archdiocese, said, “The brotherhood offered in the Men’s Spirituality Conference encourages and invites these men to carry on their experience at the parish level.”

The first conference in 2009 attracted more than 1,200 attendees, and last year’s event more than 1,500.

“Amid the turmoil and uncertainty surrounding our lives today, we need to hear the voice of Jesus calling us to follow Him,” said Dominic Lombardi, who is the director of the archdiocesan Family Life Office.

The cost of the conference is $35 and information can be found at

George Gregory is a freelance writer and a parishioner of St. Cecilia Parish in Coatesville.