Catholic men’s conference returns with in-person format - Catholic Courier
John Zaepfel browses books at a vendor stand at the first-annual ExultRochester Catholic Men’s Conference at St. Jude the Apostle Church May 16, 2015. (Courier file photo)

John Zaepfel browses books at a vendor stand at the first-annual ExultRochester Catholic Men’s Conference at St. Jude the Apostle Church May 16, 2015. (Courier file photo)

Catholic men’s conference returns with in-person format

After presenting its 2020 event exclusively online, the annual ExultRochester Catholic Men’s Conference will return to an in-person format this year.

The seventh-annual gathering will take place Saturday, Oct. 23, from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Parish of the Holy Family, 4100 Lyell Avenue in Gates.

The theme for this year’s conference will be “St. Joseph — A Man of God,” in keeping with Pope Francis’s declaration of the Year of Joseph. The conference will begin with Mass celebrated by Bishop Salvatore R. Matano, followed by a presentation from Mark Miravelle, a professor of theology specializing in mariology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Miravelle is president of the International Marian Association, which comprises more than 130 theologians, bishops, clergy and laity worldwide who seek to promote Marian devotion and doctrine. He also is the author and editor of more than 20 books in mariology and spiritual theology. In addition to his study of Mary, Miravalle recently published the book Meet Your Spiritual Father: An Introduction to St. Joseph.

Rick Klosterman, conference co-chair, said he hasn’t heard Miravelle speak before, “but our committee that did the selection process (for our speaker) … were really impressed with him.”

Unlike previous years’ conferences, the 2021 conference will have a half-day format. Due to the shortened schedule and for COVID-19 safety precautions, Klosterman said some typical components of the annual conference won’t be included this year. For instance, there will be no vendors in the parish’s faith-formation center, and participants will be given snacks after Mass instead of lunch. Also, in keeping with social-distancing norms, Klosterman said this year’s schedule of events won’t include extended breaks for socializing.

“I think that is one of the other draws of the conference is that it gives an opportunity for men to get together, share their faith, socialize and just keep that person-to-person connection. Unfortunately, in the world we are living in right now, at least, that’s not going to work out,” he remarked.

Mindful that some people remain uncomfortable with in-person gatherings, organizers also plan to present the conference via livestream. Men interested in participating in the conference virtually will need to register in advance to obtain online access.

Deacon Thomas Jack, parish deacon at St. John Vianney in Bath, has been attending the conference annually since the first one in 2015 and has served as a parish captain, promoting the conference within his parish community. He has become more involved this year, serving as the conference’s vice chair and said he hopes to get the word out to increase participation among the faithful of diocese in the Southern Tier.

“There is quite a bit of disconnect from the Southern Tier to our home city of Rochester,” Deacon Jack explained. “People can live all the way down in Owego and have no dealings at all with Rochester. So I’ve always tried to foster that connection with the people in the Southern Tier.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee was considering offering regional conferences to better reach people in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions, but has tabled those plans for the time being. For now, the committee is just focused on having a successful in-person conference respectful of COVID protocols and precautions

“It’s important to us to remember that we do need community. We do need to be together. We do need to get together to worship. I’m excited about it (the conference),” Deacon Jack said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Registration for the ExultRochester Catholic Men’s Conference is $25 for in-person participation and $15 for livestream access. For more information, visit www.exultrochester.org.

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