March 3, 2023

E6 conference participants exhorted to become ‘men of the Eucharist’

Some 1,200 men kneel in prayer during a Mass on Feb. 18 at East Central High School in St. Leon that was part of the eighth annual E6 Catholic Men’s Conference sponsored by All Saints Parish in Dearborn County. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Some 1,200 men kneel in prayer during a Mass on Feb. 18 at East Central High School in St. Leon that was part of the eighth annual E6 Catholic Men’s Conference sponsored by All Saints Parish in Dearborn County. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

ST. LEON—“No cross. No glory. No Mass. No glory.”

As Father Jonathan Meyer offered that simple and direct message during a homily on Feb. 18, some 1,200 men ranging in age from teenagers to those who could be their grandfathers sat before him in an auditorium at East Central High School in St. Leon.

They had come there from Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and other states for the eighth annual E6 Catholic Men’s Conference, sponsored by All Saints Parish in Dearborn County. (Related: See a photo gallery from the conference)

Father Meyer shared this message during the first year of the three-year National Eucharistic Revival. Named by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as a eucharistic preacher for the revival, Father Meyer expanded upon his message, saying, “What is the Mass? It is the death of Jesus. But it’s also the resurrection. And there is no glory without the cross.”

Pastor in solidum with Father Daniel Mahan of the four parishes in Dearborn County, Father Meyer exhorted his listeners to be “men of the Eucharist.”

“What does it mean to be men of the Eucharist, to unite ourselves to Christ on the cross?” Father Meyer asked. “It means to know him so well that all we can do is say, ‘This is my body given up for you. This is my blood poured out for you.’

“That’s masculinity. This eucharistic revival needs to change us.”

The conference—its speakers, opportunities for prayer, the sacrament of penance, adoration, Benediction and fellowship—moved participants to embrace that change.

“It starts one man at a time,” said David Rheinhardt, a father and grandfather from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Richmond, at the conference. “It’s the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has to be within you if you’re going to be a man of God. It’s not us that’s going to win the world, it’s the Spirit of God living in us that’s going over the world.”

Rheinhardt, who has attended several E6 conferences, said taking part in the daylong gathering with so many other Catholic men “is like reading the lives of the saints. This conference inspires me to live more for Christ.”

Attending the conference for the first time was Levi Ericks, a seventh-grader at Seton Catholic High School in Richmond.

“It’s enlightened me to the ways of God and how he teaches us,” Levi said of the conference. “It’s cool to see how many are dedicated to their faith and have a passion for God.”

Jordan Puckett, 29, has attended most of the E6 conferences.

“It encourages men to be strong in our culture today,” said Puckett, a member of Old St. Mary Parish in Cincinnati. “I always feel so much more inspired to be a better man and Catholic after I leave here. I leave here feeling a lot more hope—hope for our culture and hope for myself that I can be better.”

The “E6” in the conference title refers to the sixth chapter of St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians in which the Apostle calls believers to take up “the armor of God” in the spiritual fight against the devil (Eph 6:11).

Conference speakers—Matt Birk, Mark Houck and Bear Woznick—encouraged the participants to embrace their faith and live it out more consciously in their lives with their families, in the Church and the world. (Related story: Mark Houck, pro-life activist, acquitted in federal court finds spiritual meaning in arrest, trial)

Bear Woznick, a popular Catholic author and speaker, shared his experiences as a world champion surfer facing 35-foot waves in Hawaii.

“When the surf comes up in Hawaii, we see people on the beach with shirts from Abercrombie and Fitch that say ‘lifeguard’ on them,” he said. “We know they’re posers. When the surf comes up, the posers don’t paddle out.”

Woznick challenged his listeners not to be “posers” in living out their faith in today’s secular culture.

“We’re in big surf,” he said. “We can’t afford to be posers anymore. You need to spend time in prayer every morning, praying the rosary while you’re driving, … going to Mass.

“Praying isn’t the last resort. The first thing is to spend time with God.”

Matt Birk, a retired All-Pro Super Bowl champion center in the National Football League, emphasized doing what he did to reach the heights of professional football—working on the fundamentals every day.

“You’ve got to keep doing the fundamentals over and over again,” he said. “You can’t just be Catholic. You got to do Catholic. That’s where your ability to perform comes from.”

Although he was a Super Bowl winner, Birk insisted that playing center in the NFL doesn’t require a lot of talent. Neither, he said, does going to Mass, praying the rosary, praying in front of abortion centers or volunteering to help those in need.

“It doesn’t take any talent to do these things,” Birk said. “We’ve got to go where the action is. This is what we were made for—this time right now.

Noting that society is no longer founded on Christian principles, Birk exhorted those at the conference to change that, one man at a time.

“We need to go out and evangelize,” he said. “We need to proclaim the Gospel. There are so many people, so many young people, who have never heard the Gospel. If we’re not going to tell them, who is? … It’s on us, guys.”

At the end of the conference, Birk and Woznick spoke about how they were impressed that so many young men were in attendance. According to conference organizers, about 200 of the participants were 25 or younger.

“I’ve never seen so many young men at a men’s conference,” Woznick said.

I’m stoked to see that. It’s very powerful.”

“Twenty or 30 years from now, they’re not going to remember the Skyline chili [at the lunch] or the speakers that were here,” Birk said. “But they’re going to remember that their dad took them to this and that’s awesome.” †

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