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Flanked by candle-bearing acolytes, the priest held the monstrance aloft and processed through the aisles of the massive Milwaukee Theatre. More than 2,500 men were on their knees in adoration as the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ passed before them, bedecked in gold. The solemn Eucharistic procession was the culmination of the ninth annual Men of Christ conference: a day of prayer, speakers, reflection, and Mass. In the halls outside the theater, the line for confession was 200 deep much of the day, even with more than 75 priests hearing confessions. Men waited an hour or more to confess their sins and be forgiven. For some, it was their first confession in years, even decades.
Men of Christ Conference - Milwaukee
On a Saturday when the highly ranked Wisconsin Badgers were playing tournament basketball on television, a small city of Catholic men instead* gathered in downtown Milwaukee to get closer to Christ. From ages 8 to 90, they filled the sprawling, ornate theater for more than eight hours of Catholic enrichment. The chorus of deep, resonant voices seemed to lift the roof during the Lord’s Prayer. Extended applause greeted Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki when he announced his support for concealed carry — then pulled out a Rosary as his weapon of choice. It seemed every man in the audience had one.
What’s going on here? The leaders of this emergent movement say the goal of events like this is nothing less than complete restoration of the Catholic man. Think “band of brothers” over pockets of loners; would be-martyrs instead of has-been quitters. Virtue and service over vice, sin, and addiction. Every Catholic Caspar Milquetoast is being called to emulate Don John of Austria, who with the Holy League saved Christendom from the Ottoman Turks. Yesterday’s average Joe is being remolded as priest, prophet, and king—a bold and self-sacrificing leader in the model of Jesus and St. Joseph. The call has gone out: real Catholic men wanted. Rosary-praying, faith-defending spiritual warriors. Education and training will be provided.
“Men need support and friendship of other Catholic men,” said Steve Ray, Catholic author, apologist, and creator of the Footprints of God documentary series. “We’re in a war, and men are starting to realize it. Life is getting tougher. We can no longer consider ourselves part of the flow of American culture.” Ray, who has spoken at the Men of Christ conference, said the timing is right for men to reclaim their Catholic faith and be prepared to defend it.
* My bad....