The second Iowa Catholic Men’s Conference earlier this spring drew more than 500 men from across the state to hear a variety of speakers talk about their journey of faith.
“We are thrilled with the participation numbers but more pleased with the quality of the presentations and the positive response of the participants,” said Deacon Tom Bradley, of Holy Trinity Parish in Des Moines.
A variety of booths promoted the Knights of Columbus, Iowa Catholic Radio and the upcoming Christ Our Life Catholic Regional Conference.
Father Bill Kneemiller brought a bus of 14 from the Diocese of Davenport. He is pastor of parishes in Grand Mound, Lost Nation, Oxford Junction and Toronto. He woke up one day at 2 a.m. and felt he just had to come to the event. In between talks, he was distributing free holy land military rosaries asking for prayers for the safety of soldiers and family rosary prayer. The rosary crosses are purchased from Catholic families living in Bethlehem and put together by workers in Haiti.
The conference provided a tract in Spanish. More than 100 Spanish-speaking men heard Mario St. Francis and Marcellino D’Ambrosio speak.
The conference also shared speakers at several other local events held the same weekend.
D’Ambrosio, director of The Crossroads Initiative, spoke to 75 parents and couples on keeping kids Catholic.
St. Francis, in addition to emceeing the Spanish language tract of the conference, spoke to 80 students at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines on his conversion from a male model to Christian missionary.
Matt Fradd, a Catholic apologist, spoke to about 60 teenagers, young adults and parents on myths about pornography at Dowling Catholic.
As a birthday present from his wife, Robert Levis received tickets for himself and his three sons, Robert, John and Ryan, to attend the conference.
“I thought the speakers were dynamic,” said Levis, of St. Mary Parish in Vinton. “They delivered a great message both informative and entertaining.”
What was powerful for Ryan Vincent, of St. Pius X Parish in Urbandale, was the personal testimony from speakers. “I’ve really enjoyed it. The speakers were honestly great and tied it into their experiences,” he said.
Tintha Mwanza, of St. Thomas Parish in Ames, said he appreciated the connecting with other men and hearing of their experiences.
David Orsinger, of Ss. John and Paul Parish in Altoona, attended with his son, Daniel. He said all the speakers were good, particularly Tom Peterson.“I came last year and it was really good,” Orsinger said. “I like to go to things that might help me deepen my faith.”
Patrick Hall, of Holy Spirit Parish in Carroll, couldn’t attend last year’s conference and made it a point to attend this year’s gathering. “All the speakers were great,” he said. “I got something from every one of them.”
During his homily at the concluding Mass, Bishop Richard Pates of the Diocese of Des Moines said he hopes the men took away two to three insights that give them a greater appreciation and lead them to change and conversion.
He asked them to think of how they treat others with the light of Christ. “We need good, strong fathers” who are strong in values and express love and good judgment, he said.