Christopher Lushis
Freelance Writer
February 27, 2018 // Diocese

Men encouraged to trust God wholeheartedly

Christopher Lushis
Freelance Writer

“What are you looking for? Do you want to be well? Do you love me?” These questions, first posed by Jesus in the Gospels, were presented anew to more than 900 men gathered at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, for the annual Rekindle the Fire Diocesan Men’s Conference on Saturday, Feb. 24.

Joe Farris gives his talk at the Rekindle the Fire Men’s Conference in Fort Wayne.

With passion and fraternal affection, speaker Joe Farris emphasized the theme of the retreat — becoming “Fully Alive” — by imploring the men of the diocese “to imagine being given the freedom to leave behind the wounds you’ve been carrying, to give everything you have to Jesus, to start over and begin anew with the Lord, loving Him with your whole being.”

Farris’ emphasis on finding healing through repentance and conversion was echoed by fellow speaker Dom Quaglia Jr., filling in for scheduled presenter Christopher West, who unable to attend due to illness. Quaglia emphasized, “We are called to loving relationship with God. However, we are offered counterfeit versions of love all the time, since the enemy has a plan to steal, kill and destroy us. Too often we struggle with one simple thing, the same fault which caused the fall of Adam and Eve; our problem is that we do not trust. While the Lord calls us beyond our comfort zones, He also promises to be with us every step of the way and to provide for all our needs. Return to the Lord, let Him prove to you His faithfulness, take the leap to trust in Him!”

The focus on reconciliation led to more than 500 men receiving the sacrament throughout the day, due also to the encouragement of Father Jacob Meyer and Father Ben Muhlenkamp, who served as masters of ceremonies for the event. Nearly 20 priests were in attendance to hear the confessions.

Since becoming “Fully Alive” members of the Church also requires a sincere and devoted focus on the Eucharist, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades then presented a thorough treatment on the sacrifice of the Mass and its importance for becoming transformed in Christ.

Taking the stage at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades welcomes participants to the eighth annual Rekindle the Fire Diocesan Men’s Conference on Feb. 24. Participants enjoyed fellowship; talks by the bishop, Dom Quaglia Jr. and Joe Farris; celebrated Mass; and had an opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. — Christopher Lushis

He exclaimed: “The Eucharist is the heart of the Church. It’s good to think about and discover or re-discover what we do and say at Holy Mass, to mine the riches of this great mystery of our faith, and to grow in our understanding of the great gift God has given us in the Holy Eucharist. The Second Vatican Council encouraged the faithful to take part in the Eucharistic liturgy not ‘as strangers or silent spectators,’ but as participants ‘in the sacred action, conscious of what they are doing, actively and devoutly.’ We are called to participate in Mass interiorly as well as exteriorly, to enter into the mystery with body, mind, heart, and soul, thus allowing the Eucharist to form us as disciples of Jesus, to educate us in love, Christ’s self-giving love in the Paschal Mystery.”

In addition to his study of the Mass, which provided revealing insights of both historical and liturgical significance, Bishop Rhoades engaged the crowd in a question-and-answer session, responding to inquiries on the sacramental life, church teachings and how to defend the faith in an increasingly secular climate.

Following the talks, Bishop Rhoades celebrated Mass and remarked on the struggles endured by Christ’s disciples. He shared: “My brothers, this season of Lent is a time when we are called to walk with Christ along the way of the cross, to Mount Calvary, the path to glory. Yes, it can be steep and difficult at times, but with St. Paul we walk this path with the conviction that if God is for us, who can be against us? We walk this path knowing that nothing and no one can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, Our Lord!

David Napierkowski asks a question of the bishop during a Q&A session that followed a deep dive into the Mass.

The effects of the conference on those who attended were evident in their remarks. David Maugel, a member of St. John the Evangelist, Goshen, said that the conference served as “a great reminder of what our role is as men in the Catholic Church; of what I need to be doing as a husband and a father.” He added, “It has inspired me to start saying the rosary again on a daily basis and gotten me excited again about Christ and the fact that He is there no matter what and walks beside you in all aspects of your life.”

Michael Tarala, also a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist, expressed his appreciation for the conference and for Quaglia’s talk in particular. “He emphasized how our world throws so many things at us that make us avoid suffering and sacrifice in an effort to stay comfortable. He stressed the importance of being uncomfortable and the graces that come from such discomfort,” Tarala shared. “We, as men, struggle immensely with trust. Therefore, we must put our trust in the Lord and believe that by doing so He will transform our lives.”

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