While serving in Rochester’s Cathedral Community, Father Edison Tayag was impressed by a parish men’s group that addressed such topics as what it means to be a father and how to raise children in the Catholic faith.
Father Tayag — who currently serves as pastor of Catholic Community of the Blessed Trinity in Wayne and Cayuga counties — now would like to see more opportunities for men to convene regularly at their parishes for discussion. He hopes that the first-ever Rochester Catholic Men’s Conference, for which he’s serving as an organizer, will help get that ball rolling.
The conference will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 16, at St. Jude the Apostle in Gates. Also collaborating in the organization of the event is Exult Rochester — a coalition of Catholic men from Rochester-area parishes — in conjunction with the Diocese of Rochester. Registration is open to men in the diocese and beyond, with an attendance capacity of 1,000. Tickets are $50 per person and available at exultrochester.org.
Bishop Salvatore R. Matano will begin the event by celebrating Mass at 8 a.m. Three popular national Catholic speakers are scheduled to follow:
* Tim Staples is the director of apologetics and evangelization at Catholic Answers, a lay-run organization based in California. Staples converted to the Catholic faith in 1988 and is known for the humor and enthusiasm of his presentations.
* Danny Abramowicz, a former All-Pro football player for the New Orleans Saints, is the founder of Crossing the Goal Ministries, an evangelical outreach to Catholic men. He also serves on the board of directors of Eternal Word Television Network.
* Hector Molina, know as "The Motivangelist" (motivator/evangelist), is a veteran keynote speaker who has conducted numerous parish seminars, workshops, missions and retreats — in English and Spanish — across the United States and abroad.
In addition to the Mass and speakers, the event will afford conference participants the opportunity for confession and eucharistic adoration. Breakfast, lunch and snacks will be served.
"I see the conference as really focusing first on the Catholic identity of the men — at the same time, seeking to provide witness and encouragement to men who would like to live their faith in the contemporary world and all the challenges it brings to men," Father Tayag remarked.
He said the event was conceived by numerous local Catholics who have traveled to men’s conferences in Syracuse and Buffalo and sought similar programming to their own diocese. Organizers also were inspired by the success of the Rochester Catholic Women’s Conference — for which Father Tayag served as chaplain — which drew 1,000 participants to its first event in March 2014. (The second-annual women’s conference will take place March 28 at Aquinas Institute in Rochester. For details, visit www.rochestercwc.org.)
The men’s conference theme of "Put Out Into the Deep" — a quote from Luke 5:4 in which Jesus instructs Peter to cast his fishing nets, resulting in a huge catch — reflects the organizers’ hope to gather as many men as possible. Father Tayag noted that conference leaders will encourage the establishment of more parish-based men’s organizations.
"It’s good to see other men who are dealing with the same issues and can share their own experiences in trying to live their faith," Father Tayag said. "With relativism and with men who are unsure of what they believe in, I think Catholic men first need to know where they are coming from in order to better engage and dialogue with the world around them."