St. Edward’s Men’s Group led attendance at Knights Conference

NEW FAIRFIELD — St. Edward the Confessor Church once again led diocesan attendance at the Connecticut Catholic Men’s Conference with 21 men from the parish taking part, according to Don Mallozzi, co-captain of the parish conference with Otis Shelton.

They joined almost 600 Catholic men, from 13 years old to 85, for the 15th annual conference and heard a keynote address by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, who said it’s time to bring Christ back to a troubled society, guided by the power of the Holy Spirit and nourished by the Holy Eucharist.

The daylong event, which featured nationally known speakers, was centered on the theme “The Most Holy Eucharist,” which was chosen as part of the National Eucharistic Revival initiated by the U.S. bishops “to restore understanding and devotion to this great mystery here in the United States.”

“The Catholic Men’s Conference is an event in which I learn about how I, as a Catholic, can improve my family, community, and our society by stepping up and applying Christian principles within my circle of influence,” said Shelton.

Mallozzi added, “It was an excellent conference once again. It reignited our belief in the Real Presence and our belief that only our Lord Jesus Christ can lead us forward to do the miraculous that we cannot do on our own to lift the world out of the mess it is currently in.”

Every year, Parish Conference Co-Captains, Shelton and Mallozzi, make every effort to get as many men to the conference as possible. This year the parish also invited four humanists — men professing their intention to enter the priesthood — and two novices from Legionaries of Christ in Cheshire.

Legionaries have helped the church with its pro-life efforts in the Greater Danbury Area and joined in their Jericho Marches at Planned Parenthood in Danbury and in New Fairfield’s Fourth of July parade. At the conference, the Legionaries had the table to provide information about vocations, and speak to interested men.

To ensure a large turnout at the conference, the St. Edward’s co-captains sent out an invitation from Fr. Robert Wolfe, parish administrator, to men of the parish, along with digital promotions, personal invitations, bulletin promotions and announcements from the pulpit, Mallozzi said.

The conference, which attracted men from parishes throughout the state, was held on September 24 at Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford and saw a dramatic increase in attendance after two years of being hampered by COVID.

The speakers included Bishop Caggiano; Deacon Michael Forrest of Springfield, a writer, speaker and catechist; Father Wade Menezes, CPM of the Fathers of Mercy, who appears on EWTN and is author of several books; and Father Chris Alar, MIC, a member of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, a religious community entrusted with spreading the message and devotion of Divine Mercy. The master of ceremonies was Sam Todzia, a Catholic husband, father, carpenter, and founder of Red Barn Ministries.

The conference concluded with a vigil Mass concelebrated by Archbishop Leonard P. Blair and priests in attendance.

In his keynote speech, Bishop Caggiano told the men that they live in a “post-Christian, secular and ever-more atheist world … and we have to do something about it,” urging them to become “Marines for Christ and men of hope” whose lives are centered on the Holy Eucharist.

“The Holy Spirit brought every single one of us here today for a reason, as brothers in faith, because you and I are living in a unique moment in the life of our country and of our Church, unique in time because the challenges we face continue to grow,” the bishop said. “We have come here to be resolved in courage and to make decisions in grace so that we answer those challenges together, just as in the Ancient Church, where the Fathers with their people faced similar challenges and rose to the occasion. Are we ready now to rise to the occasion?”

He told the audience that “the world out there is a mess, an absolute mess” and asked, “What are you and I going to do about it?”

The conference is a collaboration between the Archdiocese of Hartford and the dioceses of Bridgeport and Norwich. “This event was not only a Men’s Conference, but also a mini Eucharistic Congress to serve the spiritual needs of our men who need to be knowledgeable about the Real Presence and advocates of their Catholic faith,” said Ken Santopietro, director of the conference.