The first Holy League Men’s Conference, to be held in Salem, Oregon, the weekend of December 16-17 will feature addresses by Fr. Theodore Lange, Carl E. Olson, and internationally-noted speakers Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, Jesse Romero, and Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC.
Archbishop Alexander Sample will say Mass on Saturday, December 17th at St. Joseph parish in Salem for conference attendees, who will gather to hear talks touching on the theme “Stand Up — Illuminate Your Soul”, with an emphasis on living a Christ-centered life of radical holiness, the witness of St. Joseph, the intercessory work of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the necessity of a vibrant life of prayer, and practical ways to be men of God in a culture obsessed with power, money, and sex.
The conference begins the evening of Friday, December 16th, with Confession, followed by Mass said by Fr. Lange, who is the formation director at Mount Angel Seminary and State Chaplain for the Knights of Columbus. Fr. Lange’s presentation “Missing in Action”, which follows Mass, will be, he told CWR, about “rising to a higher level of love by following the call of our Lady”. Many Catholic men, he said, lack good religious education as well as vibrant devotional life; they are not “challenged to grow and excel” in their spiritual lives. The goal of the conference, like similar conferences, he says, is to remind men “what our aim in life is and how to get to heaven.” The evening will conclude with Benediction.
The Saturday schedule opens with Mass said by Archbishop Sample, who will also give the homily. Fr. Calloway’s first talk will be on the Rosary as “our Spiritual Weapon”. Fr. Calloway, who has written several books on Mary and the Rosary, says men “must stop thinking that the rosary is for women and children only. They need to be reminded that it is primarily a spiritual weapon that was first given to a man (St. Dominic).” Men need to understand, he says, that “they have an enemy, a serpent-dragon that seeks to destroy all that they hold dear” and that the Rosary is an essential weapon in the spiritual battle, especially since it “encapsulates the saving mysteries of the God-Man”. In his second talk, Fr. Calloway says, he will explain “why every man at the Conference needs the Blessed Virgin Mary in his life. If we are to be warriors for the Kingdom, we need to know the loveliness of our Queen. It really is impossible for any Catholic man to become holy without the Blessed Virgin Mary in his life.”
He emphasizes that pornography and related sins are significant challenges for men today, a point that Deacon Burke-Sivers also plans to address. Known as the “Dynamic Deacon” for his hard-hitting, direct style, Deacon Burke-Sivers has addressed conferences and groups in Rome, South Africa, Australia, and Ireland. “We lack a deep spirituality rooted in the cross of Jesus Christ,” he told CWR in a recent interview. “We choose pornography and masturbation over the one-flesh union of the conjugal act in marriage or the intimacy of celibate life. We choose abortion and contraception over serving, protecting, and defending a woman’s dignity and building a culture of life.”
His first talk, to be given after lunch on Saturday, will focus on Saint Joseph and “a father’s role in the family, explore human fatherhood as a reflection of the Fatherhood of God, and draw a connection between the rejection of fatherhood within society and the destruction of the family.” His second talk will examine some themes from his best-selling book Behold the Man, connecting them to Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s apostolic exhortation, “Into the Breach”. Deacon Burke-Sivers says his prayer is that his “talks go straight to the hearts of the men who will attend, helping them to root their spirituality as men within covenant relationship with God the Father and the cross of Jesus Christ.”
Carl E. Olson, editor of Catholic World Report, will give a talk titled “The Vocation of Sons by Grace”, which will focus on the divine call for every man to be, by virtue of baptism, a prophet, priest, and king. The talk, says Olson, will highlight themes found in Called To Be the Children of God: The Catholic Theology of Human Deification, which he co-edited with Fr. David Meconi, SJ. “Drawing on Scripture and the Fathers,” says Olson, “I will emphasize the truly radical gift of divine sonship and show how it relates to our everyday lives as men, husbands, and fathers.” True men of God, he adds, “see and understand this life in the light of supernatural, Trinitarian grace and our call to share that grace with our families, friends, and everyone we encounter”.
The dynamic, bilingual Catholic lay evangelist Jesse Romero will be giving three talks: one at the English-speaking conference and two to the Hispanic Men’s Conference, also held on Saturday, December 17th, at the East Salem Community Center (ESCC). One of Romero’s talks carries the provocative title “3 Types of Men: Wolves, Sheep, and Sheepdogs”, and all of his talks, Romero says, will focus on prayer and the reality of spiritual warfare. Men need to “know their enemy,” he says, and “pray like a man!” He believes that conferences such as the Holy League conference are a “place where men become reenergized”, with the “stronger men in the faith encouraging and sharpening up the weaker men in the faith. Being around a bunch of men that want to follow the Lord and follow the Church is contagious.”
Deacon Burke-Sivers, who has spoken at numerous men’s conferences and was a presenter at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia last fall, says through such conferences “many men are making a serious effort to strengthen and deepen their spiritual lives in the midst of life’s struggles and challenges, but there are so many more who are not. These are the men we need to reach.”