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Nick Marquart, right, a parishioner at Sts. Joachim and Ann in St. Charles, and Harrison Wiswall, a parishioner at St. Peter in St. Charles, listened to Deacon James Keating speak during the Catholic Men for Christ Conference Feb. 18 at St. Louis University High School in St. Louis.
Nick Marquart, right, a parishioner at Sts. Joachim and Ann in St. Charles, and Harrison Wiswall, a parishioner at St. Peter in St. Charles, listened to Deacon James Keating speak during the Catholic Men for Christ Conference Feb. 18 at St. Louis University High School in St. Louis.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand

Catholic Men for Christ draws nearly 900 to build faith, community

From left, Joe Van Bree, a parishioner at Immaculate Conception in La Grange, Kentucky; Mike, a parishioner at St. Michael Van Bree in Harrison County, Indiana; and Ken Van Bree, a parishioner at Incarnate Word in Chesterfield, listened to Hector Molina speak at the Catholic Men for Christ conference Feb. 18.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
Catholic evangelist and speaker Hector Molina kicked off the 2023 Catholic Men for Christ Conference with a powerful punch from Psalm 133:

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity!”

And how truly good it was. Nearly 900 men packed the Si Commons at St. Louis University High School Feb. 18 for the annual conference, a day filled with speakers, Mass, confessions (384 confessions

were heard) and fellowship. (The Catholic Women for Christ Conference will take place March 11, also at SLUH.)

Describing the gathering as a “holy convocation,” Molina told the men that they are God’s beloved sons, and that the world needs — in the words of the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen — truly great men who are willing to live the plan that God has for their lives.

“The world is on fire,” Molina said. “Our society is careening toward destruction. This gathering and those like it are important, because we have to recognize the importance of men.”

Humility is key to living a life of greatness, Molina stressed, which is “embracing the truth of who we are in light of who God is.” In the Old Testament, David stood up to Goliath, but his strength was grounded in his faith in God.

Jason Carles, a parishioner at St. Monica in Creve Coeur, prayed during adoration at the Catholic Men for Christ Conference Feb. 18 at St. Louis University High School in St. Louis. The event included speakers, Mass, the sacrament of reconciliation and fellowship.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
Man’s heart is too small for the greatness for which it is destined, Molina said. It needs to be stretched. The day’s events were to help the men to be filled by God’s word and grace, he noted.

Several men who attended the Catholic Men for Christ Conference shared their experiences of faith and what it means as a man to evangelize:

Adam Henrichs, St. Justin Martyr Parish in Sunset Hills

For me, it’s sharing the story of how God has worked in my own life. (Molina) asked if God’s grace is really pouring into our lives. I feel like doing practices like Exodus 90 (a 90-day spiritual exercise for men) has really helped me to live in joy. I want to share that with others and invite other guys to have that.

When I first moved here I was looking for some kind of community of other men specifically. (A friend) told me about this F3 group (Fitness, Fellowship, Faith). We meet up at 5:30 in the morning to work out. I met all these other guys, and several of them have kids the same age as my 16-month-old daughter. Their wives and my wife have been hanging out, and I get together with the guys for workouts. It’s a good group.

Our society is built on the family, and men are called to be the spiritual leaders of the household. There’s a temptation to leave that up to the wife to take the family to Church. In order for us to change the world, it’s got to start with our own families.

Eric Eyman, St. Patrick Parish in Wentzville

This is my second time attending. The first time I came was in 2020, and I was not Catholic yet. I was going through RCIA at the time. I wanted to come back now that I’ve been in the Church for a while.

I grew up non denominational, and then I was really gone for a long time. I got married to a Catholic woman and we never really came back to the Church until we had kids. We decided to send our kids to St. Patrick School, and I decided that I should go through RCIA for that reason, so I knew what my kids were being taught. I very quickly realized that it all just made sense.

Evangelization means being involved in the community and showing everybody that we’re here. Being part of the Knights of Columbus and getting involved. I love seeing people’s faces when I tell them, ‘I can’t, I have a thing to go to,’ and they look at me like, ‘You’re doing what?’ To me, that’s evangelization. I’m not out preaching or teaching, but I like being involved and helping in the community. It’s leading by example and not just going through the motions.

Tom Henning, Christ Prince of Peace Parish in Manchester

I was invited by a fellow parishioner, Ron Huelsmann, to attend the conference. It looked interesting to me, and I was becoming more involved in the Church within the last 10 years.

My wife was a member of Assembly of God, and I brought her into the Catholic faith. She converted about 37 years ago. In the last 10 years, I stopped working 100 hours a week and the kids are out of the house and I’ve become more involved.

I enjoyed (speaker) Deacon James Keating, who has such a low-key approach to getting his message across. The very first thing he said was if you’re not living in heaven now, then you’re not going to get it when you die. You have to live that life now and not expect it suddenly when you die.

What does evangelization mean to me? To me, it’s a quiet evangelization. I live my life respectfully to everyone around me. I make it well known that I follow Christ and that I am a prayerful person. I am more than willing to talk to people or offer prayers openly. I am that way to my kids, to the friends around me. I don’t go out and knock on doors, but it’s through personal example.

Rafael Salazar, Immaculate Conception Parish in Dardenne Prairie

The first thing I felt I got today was the courage to fight to be perfect. Because we are called to greatness, not to be weak. When you’re immature spiritually, you go into the bushes hiding, into sin.

For me, I feel a strong call today to be strong and to get other men together. I feel there are a lot of men in the Church who are not doing anything. They’re just sitting in the pews. That community, that brotherhood needs to happen, and I feel more strongly now to bring more men back into the Church. We need more strong men.

Paul Downing, St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville

Hector Molina was talking about the Lord stretching your heart and answering that call to greatness. The truly great men, like David, they were pursuing the heart of Christ. He challenged us and said, are you doing that in your life? What are you pursuing in your life?

The follow up with Deacon Keating was perfect, because we have all these idols, especially men in the sports world. Is that what’s becoming your idol? It was the perfect flow: Are you pursuing the heart of Christ, or are you pursuing these other things in the world?

Evangelization is bringing the love of Christ to as many people as possible. But for the Catholic Church, it’s bringing the Eucharist to people. There’s no other faith that can get that close to Jesus. We literally have Jesus in us. We can have Jesus every single day if we want it. It’s finding a way to bring that to people, like the apostles did.

>> Listen to the talks

To listen to the talks from the 2023 Catholic Men for Christ Conference, visit stlreview.com/3SqSQ7J 

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