Volunteer organizers hope months of planning will lead to a great day of spiritual renewal for all attending the Rekindle the Fire Men’s Conference Feb. 16 in South Bend.
While the volunteers put in a lot of work organizing the event, they always get more out of it, said Joe Brown, a Rekindle the Fire founder and longtime volunteer.
“There is such joy created that day,” said Brown, a member of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne.
Scheduled speakers include author Scott Hahn, returning favorite Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, and Catholic convert and Marian religious order member Father Don Calloway. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades also will host a question-and-answer session and celebrate Mass at the 13th annual conference.
The theme for this year’s event is “Am I All In?” Brown and other volunteers certainly can answer, “Yes!”
The idea for Rekindle the Fire grew out of several men’s involvement in the Christ Renews His Parish program at St. Vincent de Paul. Brown and fellow parishioner John Faylor left their retreat weekend in the fall of 2004 with their faith on fire, Brown recalled. Eager to keep that flame burning, they joined the team meeting weekly to plan the next men’s CRHP weekend at the parish. They led that retreat, “then nothing,” Brown said of the days afterward.
They wanted to continue studying Scripture and growing in faith, Faylor said.
That yearning sparked creation of the Rekindle the Fire ministry at the parish. The program seeks to help men rekindle the fire of Christ’s love within themselves and to become better husbands, fathers, sons and leaders through prayer, faith, fellowship and spiritual service to their family, parish and community, according to the group’s mission statement.
Members of the St. Vincent de Paul group since have helped men start Rekindle the Fire ministries at about 15 parishes around the diocese. The St. Vincent de Paul members also began organizing an annual conference, which now alternates yearly between Fort Wayne and South Bend, to provide a similar spiritual opportunity for men whose parish doesn’t have a Rekindle the Fire group, he said.
“It is just a very, very spiritual, uplifting day,” Faylor said.
Planning for this year’s conference began in July and grew gradually from meeting once a month to meeting three times a month. More than 60 volunteers will take part in planning and presenting the event, said Al Scagnoli, also a St. Vincent de Paul Parish member and longtime Rekindle the Fire organizer and volunteer.
Scagnoli and Faylor serve as assistant treasurers and also assist the conference speakers who sell books and CDs. Faylor also helps with the sound system, while Scagnoli works with the diocese to make all arrangements for Bishop Rhoades’ Mass at the conference. In the past, Scagnoli has scheduled priests to be present to hear confessions.
For the past couple of years, Brown has lined up financial sponsors for the event so the admission cost stays affordable, he said. He also goes to the venue the day before the conference to help set up.
At the conference, “We all fill about a dozen different duties that day,” Faylor said of himself, Brown and Scagnoli.
They volunteer each year because they enjoy the camaraderie during the planning. They also see the impact the conference has on the men who attend.
“It’s the stories we hear afterward of people’s life being changed,” Brown said. “When you hear stories like that, you know you are doing the Lord’s work.”
‘Am I All In?’
WHAT: The 13th annual Rekindle the Fire Men’s Conference will inspire men in their Catholic faith. The event can accommodate 1,200 participants, is shaped around the theme “Am I All In?” and includes speakers, reconciliation, eucharistic adoration and Mass with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades.
WHEN: 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Feb. 16
WHERE: Century Center, 120 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in South Bend
COST: $45 adults, $25 for students in middle school, high school or college. Register at rekindlethefire.net.
VOLUNTEER: To help with the conference, call Joe Witulski at 260-452-6875.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades will host a Q-and-A session and celebrate Mass at the Rekindle the Fire conference. He currently is chairman-elect of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine and a board of directors member of Catholic Relief Services.
Scott Hahn of Steubenville, Ohio, is the author or editor of more than 40 books, including popular titles such as “Rome Sweet Rome: Our Journey to Catholicism,” “The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth” and “Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God.”
Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers of Portland, Oregon, is a passionate Catholic evangelist, author and radio show host known as the “Dynamic Deacon.” He is a Benedictine Oblate of the Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary in Saint Benedict, Oregon.
Father Don Calloway is a former high school dropout who converted to Catholicism. He now is a member of the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and serves as vocation director at the order’s site in Steubenville, Ohio.
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