BLOOMFIELD – With an eye toward Jesus’ request to Saint Francis to “rebuild my Church,” the organizers of the sixth annual Connecticut Catholic Men’s Conference have chosen the theme “Rebuild” for the Oct. 26 event.
“When we sat down in a group of about seven of us, we thought about Pope Francis,” said Ken Santopietro, this year’s conference director, in a phone interview in September. “We wanted to have just one word, so one of the men suggested ‘Rebuild.’ Then we added on the poster, in smaller print, ‘Our Church, Our Faith & Our Life.’ And, as a kicker, we added, ‘Following Pope Francis.’”
The conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Goodwin College in East Hartford. It annually draws men from throughout the state.
“We pray that Pope Francis will lead us and rebuild our Church, but all of us must work on rebuilding our faith. And, if we do God’s will, our lives will be rebuilt. It is an exciting theme,” Mr. Santopietro wrote in an invitation that was sent to all Knights of Columbus in the state.
Mr. Santopietro told the Transcript that he attended the first conference in 2008 that was held at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. It changed his life, he said.
“I became a catechist in our religious ed program [at St. Thomas Parish in Thomaston],” he said. “I have been going to adoration. I got involved in this [Men’s Conference] committee. I joined the Knights of Columbus [Council 18]. We had one of the biggest fund-raisers in the state with our Thomastonopoly game, and we raised a ton of money and bought a Father McGivney statue for our church.”
He also became a more frequent churchgoer and began going to confession more regularly, he added.
“The Holy Spirit must have gotten involved and said, ‘Ken, you know, you’ve got something that we want,’” he said with a chuckle.
He said he became fired up at that first conference because of the inspirational presentation of Father Larry Richards of Erie, Pa. “He told the men, ‘Come back and be reconciled with Jesus.’ The message was really clear, and the guys were all lined up for confession,” Mr. Santopietro said.
This year’s speakers will weave the “Rebuild” theme into their presentations, he said. The speakers are Father John Paul Duran of the Legionaries of Christ; Dr. Bryan S. Thatcher of Tampa, Fla., founder of the Eucharistic Apostles of the Divine Mercy; Mark Houck, cofounder and president of the Kings Men; and Bryan Mercier, a speaker with the Catholic speaking bureau CMG Booking and head of the R.O.C.K. Group retreat team. Bishop Michael R. Cote of Norwich also will speak.
Father John P. Gatzak, executive director of the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Office of Radio and Television, will be the master of ceremonies.
As in previous years, Archbishop Henry J. Mansell will be the principal celebrant of the closing Mass at 4 p.m. Eucharistic adoration and the sacrament of reconciliation will be available throughout the day.
“I want to share this with other guys,” Mr. Santopietro said. “When they look at me and they go, ‘I don’t want to go to a conference,’ I tell them that I said the same thing. A conference, to me – I’m a CPA – a conference is one of those things that we go to and take notes, get a binder, and who wants that? This is not like that.”
He added, “This conference is where your spiritual needs are going to be met.”
Tickets are $35 ($25 for ages 13-19), including lunch, and may be purchased online at https://www.ctcatholicmen.org/ticket.aspx or by calling (860) 739-4607. Seating is limited to 800.