Group Hopes to Reinvigorate Sons, Fathers
Under the auspices of the new archdiocesan Catholic Men's Conference and utilizing the theme "Fueled by Faith, United in Christ our Hope," the conference will take place Saturday, March 28, 2009, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Essex County Richard J. Codey Arena (formerly South Mountain Arena), 560 Northfield Ave., West Orange.
Calling it an important initiative, Most Rev. Edgar M. da Cunha, Auxiliary Bishop of Newark and Vicar for Evangelization, described the Catholic Men's Commission "as effort to foster spiritual renewal and deepen men's relationship with the Lord. It is vitally important, that we seek opportunities to gather in worship as a community of men of faith to pray for guidance and strength and to develop avenues for good Christian fellowship so that we can be better fathers, sons, uncles, friend and business associates."
In addition to Mass celebrated by Archbishop John J. Myers-a major proponent of the archdiocesan Catholic Men's Commission and conference-the day will include multicultural faith-based speakers, exhibits and the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Featured too will be a Spanish-speaking segment.
To date, several prominent speakers have been confirmed. Taking to the podium will be Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., author, psychologist, spiritual director, co-founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal headquartered in Newark. Deacon Ralph Poyo, a youth minister for 20 years and founder of New Evangelization Ministries, also will make a presentation. Another speaker will be Dr. Philip Mango, director of Saint Michael's Institute for Psychological Studies, offering expertise in individual, premarital and marital therapy.
Designed for males from high school age and older, the admission price to attend the conference is $25 for adults and $15 for students and senior citizens. In addition, free-will donations will be accepted and sponsorship opportunities, which will be recognized by prominent signage the day of the conference, are also available. For information on the conference and commission, go online to www.rcan.org/menscommission, send an email to CatholicMen@rcan.org or call (973) 497-4545.
It is vital to reach out to men of the archdiocese and emphasize the importance of "their role in the Church and in the family," Bishop da Cunha said. "The Church needs family and the family needs the role of the father. It is important for fathers to share the faith with their children through involvement with the Church."
Bishop da Cunha had one word for men thinking of attend the event: "go." The conference, he said, will be a "first step" toward bringing a good number of men back to the Church. That is so, Bishop da Cunha feels, because at the conference, surrounded by other men active in their faith, a man will start thinking he can do the same.
Deacon Joseph A. Dwyer, Jr., Vice Chancellor for Administration for the Archdiocese of Newark and a member of the commission, said the March 28 conference signals it's time for a "deepening of the faith." The conference will be a time to help bring the relationship of men with the Lord to where it should be, Deacon Dwyer said. This is important, he noted, for a man's own spiritual peace and for the people at home with whom he interacts. Deacon Dwyer said he "guaranteed" that those attending the conference will experience an "additional spark" in their faith life.
"I challenge the men of the Archdiocese of Newark to be present in Church ministries and to take an active role as leaders in their community as good stewards by sharing their time, talent and treasure," Jorge Repollet, director of cemetery services for the Archdiocese of Newark and co-chair of the Catholic Men's Commission, commented. Repollet said it is important to "reinforce the power of prayer in our lives as Christians. I ask for everyone's prayers for the success of this conference."
Gerry Nolan, a member of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish, Roseland, and a lay co-leader for the conference, sees it as the "perfect opportunity to feed those who feed others." Stressing that the conference is for "all men" of the archdiocese, Nolan urged those planning to attend to bring along family members and friends.
"There is strength in numbers," Nolan pointed out. "It is important to demonstrate your faith. It is time to be proud of being Catholic." Citing his involvement with Men's Cornerstone weekends, Nolan said he has come to realize that there are many men who have a need to get closer to God, but are experiencing difficulties availing themselves of opportunities to do so.
Gregory Floyd, a eucharistic minister at Our Lady of the Mount Parish, Warren (part of the Diocese of Metuchen), teams with Nolan as a lay co-leader for the conference and will serve as its master of ceremonies. Bringing a men's commission to the Archdiocese of Newark, he said, is important because it will actively reach out to men at a time when they are waning in their involvement in the everyday life of the Church. The commission, he is convinced, will "reinvigorate or re-awaken" the relationship of men with the Lord."
There is, Floyd stressed, "power" in such a gathering-creating a spiritual venue to interacting "with your brothers." In today's crisisladen society-with gnawing worries over financial meltdowns and international conflicts-it is especially important to experience the "strength and security of being sons of God, brothers fighting the good fight of faith.
"No matter what point of the (faith) journey a man may find himself, I am confident God will give something to every man who walks through the door that day," Floyd said, encouraging men to attend the conference.