Today let’s talk about a difficult topic: religion. Yes, I’m aware of the old saying, “It’s not polite to talk about religion or politics.” However, nowadays everything has been politicized, so I figured we could spend a moment talking about religion, as long as we avoid the typical format of most political discussions these days: two or more people appear on a cable news show, and scream at each other for 20 minutes strait. That is the most headache-inducing TV programming I’ve ever witnessed, and I’m sure since the advent of CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc., the sale of Advil is off the charts.
Regarding religion, we all know most religious people are very devoted to their faith. And sometimes when other people don’t hold the same beliefs, it can be a bit awkward, especially if a particular religious person engages in loud and demonstrative acts of worship, and makes regular visits to a religious shrine. But enough about the Red Sox and Fenway Park.
I’d like to talk about a different religion, one which should be at the top of my personal list, but often is nowhere near the top when the Sox are battling in the playoffs. I’d like to talk about the Connecticut Catholic Men’s Conference being held next Saturday, October 21st.
This is the tenth edition of this annual event. As someone who knows enough about the teachings of the faith to understand that my religious enthusiasm is prone to wane at times, the Conference is a much-needed booster shot. (Oh, isn’t that cute? “My religious enthusiasm is prone to wane at times.” I guess I couldn’t bring myself to type: “Most of the time I’m a lazy hypocrite.”)
At the Conference, hundreds of Catholic men gather to do the things we often are uncomfortable doing in our usual settings: praying, singing, sharing our personal struggles, and reminding ourselves that God really cares.
This year the keynote speaker is Tim Staples, an internationally-known author, who has a remarkable story about his transformation from a Bible-thumpin’ fundamentalist Catholic hater, into a faithful member of the Catholic Church.
Other speakers include James Walberg, the brother of actor Mark Walberg and the director of the Mark Walberg Youth Foundation; Fr. Glenn Sudano, co-founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal; our very own Fr. Jim Sullivan, now pastor in Ansonia, who is also the official chaplain of the Conference.
The Master of Ceremonies for the event is singer/songwriter Marty Rotella, who is a very funny guy with an amazing singing voice. The day concludes with Vigil Mass offered by the Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Rev. Frank Caggiano (a good Irish boy).
The best part of the Conference is not the talented speakers, nor the music ministers, nor the opportunity for Confession and Eucharistic adoration, nor the wisdom of the Bishop and the other clergy. (Although don’t get me wrong, that stuff is really good.) The best part of the Conference is the fellowship and comradery that develop when hundreds of regular, everyday guys get together and let their hair down — well, at least for those who still have hair.
So, it would be awesome to see you there. The Conference is Saturday, October 21st, at St. Paul High School in Bristol. The doors open at 8 a.m., and the festivities end around 5 p.m. And here’s a bonus: lunch is included in the reasonable ticket price. Please visit ctcatholicmen.org for more information and to register online.
The Conference is a really terrific event, and to be honest, it’s actually more spiritually fulfilling than a pilgrimage to Fenway Park. And for me, that is saying a lot!