March 6, 2020

Prepare for spiritual battle, speakers tell a capacity crowd at E6 Catholic Men’s Conference

The auditorium of East Central High School in St. Leon is filled on Feb. 22 with 1,500 participants in the fifth annual E6 Catholic Men’s Conference, sponsored by All Saints Parish in Dearborn County. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

The auditorium of East Central High School in St. Leon is filled on Feb. 22 with 1,500 participants in the fifth annual E6 Catholic Men’s Conference, sponsored by All Saints Parish in Dearborn County. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

ST. LEON—At 7:45 on a Saturday morning in February, men stood in line hundreds of feet long in the packed parking lot of East Central High School. They were waiting to check in for the fifth annual E6 Catholic Men’s Conference.

About 500 men attended the first conference in 2016. Large sections of East Central’s auditorium were empty.

But not on Feb. 22. On that day, 1,500 Catholic men from seven states—but largely from Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio—filled the facility for the conference that is sponsored by All Saints Parish in Dearborn County.

Scott Hahn, the first speaker at the conference, looked out at the capacity crowd and called the men to prepare themselves for spiritual battle.

“We have to be brothers in Christ, comrades in arms,” said Hahn, a popular Catholic author and speaker. “A band of brothers is what I see right before me today. … We’re at war. We’re in a battle. And we can’t stand alone. So, as sons of God, as brothers in Christ, we are called to take on the armor of God and enter into this battle.”

The “armor of God” is at the heart of the “E6” name of the conference, which refers to the sixth chapter of St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians in which the Apostle calls believers to take up that armor in spiritual battle against the devil.

Hahn, a theology professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio, and founder of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, called his listeners to fight this spiritual battle with humility.

“We have a chance, brothers in Christ, as sons of God, to let God father us, to give us what we need, to make up for what we lack, that we might grow in humility as servant leaders and then invest ourselves in our marriages, in our families and thereby beat the devil,” Hahn said. “Most likely, the only homily we’ll ever hear from you is your family life, what they see you doing in prioritizing marriage and family.”

Joshua Renshaw, 14 and a freshman at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, attended the conference with his father, Jonathan, both members of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis.

“It’s been a great experience just to see everyone, absorb it and take it all in,” Joshua said. “It’s inspiring just to see how everyone really cares about their faith and wants to get closer to God. I hope it will help me be more faithful, grow closer to God and spread my experience to others.”

Terry Brannen, 81, a member of St. Thomas More Parish in Cincinnati, was glad to see so many young Catholic men and fathers attending the conference.

He’s been concerned about the future of the Church in light of the struggles it has experienced recently.

“But I just know that if there’s this kind of energy, it’s not going to go away,” Brannen said. “Down deep, I feel optimistic that we’re on the right track. It’s just going to take a while.”

During breaks at the conference, Brannen and other conference participants prayed the rosary.

Marians of the Immaculate Conception Father Donald Calloway encouraged the conference participants to see the rosary as a principal weapon to use in their spiritual battle.

“We think that we don’t need this,” he said. “We think that it’s for people who are weak.

“You’re darn right it is! How are you going to slay a dragon without a sword? You’re not. If you don’t have a devotional life, if you’re not doing these kinds of things, brothers, you’re toast. That fire from Satan is strong.”

In addition to praying the rosary, several priests were on hand to hear the confessions of conference participants. Throughout the day, hundreds of men stood in line to receive God’s mercy in the sacrament of penance.

Mass was celebrated during the conference. There was also a period of eucharistic adoration and Benediction. Father Jonathan Meyer, pastor of All Saints Parish, was the principal celebrant of the Mass and homilist.

He reflected on how the Church in the U.S. has done much throughout its history to build institutions such as parishes, schools and hospitals. Now, he said, the Church is often focused on maintaining those institutions.

“We, as a Church, have been so busy maintaining that we’ve stopped building,” he said, describing building as “going out, winning souls and bringing people to Christ.”

“Our missionary zeal has been compromised,” Father Meyer said. “And that needs to change. Every single one of you brothers needs to leave this conference with an offense, to go out into this world and win souls for Jesus Christ.”

After a midday lunch, Doug Barry continued to encourage the participants in preparing for spiritual battle.

A long-time co-host of “Life on the Rock” on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), Barry now hosts “Battle Ready” on the network, a show in which he helps viewers prepare to fight the battles of body, mind and soul in society today.

He shared with his listeners at the conference that St. John the Baptist is one of the saints who inspires him.

“I’m a fan of evangelizing always and, if necessary, use words—except I’m not a big fan of that if we’re using it as a cop-out,” Barry said. “And a lot of people, I think, do.

“John the Baptist was one who would say to evangelize always and you’d better open your mouth. Jesus said that what you hear whispered in the heart and in silence you shout from the rooftops. Get your ladder out, men. Get out on your rooftop and let it be known in ways and places in which God has called you to do it.” †

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