February 19, 2016

Christopher West to speak at men’s conference on March 5

By Natalie Hoefer

Using the theme, “Putting on the Armor of God,” the first E6 Catholic Men’s Conference will take place in St. Leon on March 5. The daylong event at the East Central High School Performing Arts Center, 1 Trojan Place, in St. Leon, will be from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., with registration and check-in taking place at 8 a.m.

The theme and name of the conference are taken from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, specifically the verses, Ephesians 6:10-18.

The speakers include:

Christopher West, expert, teacher and author of books about St. John Paul II’s theology of the body. He is the founder and president of The Cor Project, a global outreach West founded aimed to help men and women learn, live and share the beauty and splendor of God’s plan for life, love and sexuality. In 2004, he also co-founded the Theology of the Body Institute near Philadelphia, Pa.

Mark Houck, co-founder and president of The King’s Men, an organization seeking to unite and build up men as true leaders, protectors and providers. Since 2004, Mark has been working full time in the pro-life movement and lecturing teens on sexuality throughout the United States and Canada.

Father John Hollowell, pastor of Annunciation Parish in Brazil and St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, and chaplain of DePauw University in Greencastle. His blog “On This Rock” has a large following, and in 2014 he produced the internationally acclaimed documentary, The Third Way.

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin will be the principal celebrant at Mass at 11:10 a.m., and Father Jonathan Meyer, pastor of All Saints Parish in Dearborn County, will preside over eucharistic adoration and benediction. The sacrament of reconciliation will be made available during lunch. There will also be a vendor area.

The conference was organized by a group of All Saints Parish men who are also members of The Knight’s Men. According to Father Meyer, they meet weekly for a book study and faith sharing, committing to better themselves as Christian men.

Father Meyer, who served as advisor and guide while “the men did the hard work,” says the “E6” name and “Putting on the Armor of God” theme came about by first looking at chapter five of St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians.

“In chapter five is that challenging verse about ‘husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church,’ which, if we comprehend and understand it, is very tough,” he explains. “The next chapter [says] to put on the armor of God. We thought of what men are called to be according to the Gospels, and decided this [theme] would be a great way to promote that.”

“What men are called to be” is a topic Christopher West will address, in light of the teachings of St. John Paul II’s theology of the body.

“We live in a world bombarding us with images and ideas that terribly skew the true meaning of masculinity,” West wrote in an e-mail interview with The Criterion. “John Paul II gives us a vision of masculinity and sexuality that is so far beyond the pious religious stuff most people hear growing up. This is rock-your-world kind of stuff.”

Having the conference in early March provides “the least amount of excuses [for men not to come] because sports is over,” Father Meyer says with a chuckle. More importantly, he adds, having the conference during Lent offers men an “opportunity to recommit and renew and start over,” he said.

West agrees.

“Lent is all about entering into the death and resurrection of Christ in a deeper way, and that’s where we find the truth about masculinity,” he explains. “Christ shows us the deepest essence and meaning of masculinity when he says to his Bride, the Church, ‘This is my body given for you.’ Lent is all about entering in to what that means. So is this conference.”

Father Meyer invites all men from middle school age and older to attend the conference, hoping it will become an annual event. He notes that the point of this conference “is to help men be men, whether they’re single, married, a seminarian, a deacon, a priest. The point is to equip us to live the battle of life with faith and hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

West notes that men will walk away from the conference with “a renewed sense of the meaning of life—not in some vague or overly pious sense, but in the concrete sense of knowing why I exist, why I should get out of bed in the morning, and how to navigate each day between the truth and the lies in this world.

“When it comes to that fundamental desire and hunger in a man’s heart, most guys think Christianity is a starvation diet. I want men to know that Christianity is an invitation to the satisfaction of our deepest, most wild desires—a satisfaction that is literally out of this world.”

(Advance individual tickets are $45, or $50 at the door. Tickets for groups of 10 or more are $35. For high school and college students ages 16-25, tickets are $15, and clergy and religious are welcome at no charge. To register or for more information, log on to www.e6catholicmensconference.com.)

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