Men’s Conference a Time for Renewal
By Margarita Mendoza, Editor El Observador
November 23, 2023
DEKALB—The 28th annual Great Lakes Catholic Men’s Conference was held Nov. 18 in the Holmes Student Center of Northern Illinois University, where men from different generations and backgrounds — including fathers with children, single and married men and widowers — got together and experienced a faith-filled event.
 
“This is my third year coming here. I enjoy listening to the different speakers” and seeing the other 500 or so men, said attendee Denis Erickson. He said it is “very important for men to know that other men have the belief that we do: in the Gospel, in the Eucharist, confession.”
 
Jesse Ray, a father attending with his three sons, said his goal was “to raise them to know that faith is important — not just to go to church on Sundays, but to make it part of [their] life, and to see their father as an example. My job as a father is to teach them how to be a good man,” he said. 
 
At the conference, Ray’s children learned about the importance of “Eucharist, fatherhood, different vocations” he said. 
 
Guest speaker Father Richard Simon urged each attendee to “Give yourself to Christ.” He is known for hosting “Father Simon Says” on Relevant Radio.
 
“We need to be the most grateful people out there … we have to be people who believe” said speaker Justin Fatica, a professional speaker and writer of five books. Among those are two bestsellers: “Hard as Nails” and “Win it All.”
 
The group of speakers also included Catholic motivational speaker John Scott. A former NHL hockey player, he found that even in his successful career, “true happiness can’t be found in fame and fortune.”
 
Speaking on the Eucharist was Father Timothy Anastos. The Chicago priest is one of 50 commissioned preachers for the National Eucharistic Revival; he has presented before in the Rockford Diocese. He also teaches the Gospel with “Reel Homilies,” presented by Spirit Juice Studios.
 
Wayne Messmer served as the master of ceremonies, as he has for several years. 
 
The event concluded with a Mass celebrated by Bishop David Malloy and Father Max Striedl, pastor of St. Gall Parish in Elburn.
 
The long-running conference began in 1994 at Holy Family Parish, Rockford. That year focused on “How to succeed as a father and husband in the 90s.” With the exception of 2020 (when the event was canceled due to COVID-19), it has annually served Catholic men, young and old, through its teachings. Donation of proceeds from the conference go to the Rockford Diocese priests’ retirement pension plan and to the National Catholic Men’s Fellowship. 
 
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