Esto Vir Men’s Conference is March 4

Event is opportunity to welcome ‘non-engaged Catholics,’ says organizer

GREEN BAY — The call to discipleship will be at the forefront of the 12th annual Esto Vir Men’s Conference, March 4, at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay. Last year’s conference attracted 700 new attendees and organizers are hoping for another large turnout of newcomers in 2017. Men of faith are asked to help.

David Raih, Green Bay Packers assistant offensive line coach, pictured at St. Norbert Abbey in 2015, is one of the featured speakers at this year’s Esto Vir Men’s Conference, set for March 4 at the KI Convention Center. (Jerry Turba | Special to The Compass)

“When you look at Bishop (David) Ricken’s ‘Disciples on the Way’ and Pope Francis, the common theme is we need to be disciples,” said John Cavil, co-founder of Relevant Radio and a conference core team member. “In the past, we have really appealed to the engaged faithful of our diocese. We are transitioning this year. The conference is an opportunity, an easy entry point, for non-engaged Catholics or other Christians.”

Cavil explained that it’s difficult to invite someone who may have drifted away from the church to a Bible study, another faith offering or even Mass, but a day of speakers with lunch is a good option.

“You guys (engaged Catholics) are missionaries,” said Cavil. “Ask a neighbor, friend or co-worker. We need to be intentional about our discipleship. If you are not intentional, life goes on and we pass on the opportunity. If we are intentional, we look for opportunities to evangelize. An intentional disciple in this case buys two more tickets — three total, one for himself and two for others.”

Simply inviting someone doesn’t work, added Cavil. He suggests a different conversation.

“I’m going to this conference. I got you a ticket. You’re coming with me,” he said. “You know that person well enough. You are not asking. You can be forward. We are responding to the New Evangelization. Meet them where they are at in their lives. Pope Francis says that it’s a field hospital. We need to be in the hospital.”

Speakers for the conference will include David Raih, Packers assistant offensive line coach; Fr. Larry Richards, founder and president of The Reason for Our Hope Foundation; Matt Fradd, a Catholic apologist and author; and Father of Mercy Jewel Aytona, chaplain of the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, Champion. The conference’s official theme, “Making Sense of a Senseless World,” will serve as a guide for the talks. Cavil noted that Fr. Richards will give a presentation about confession and Fr. Aytona will speak about the Eucharist. Fradd, who writes and speaks about pornography addiction, is expected to address the topic in one of his talks.

Relevant Radio host Drew Mariani will serve as the emcee. Bishop Ricken will lead the opening prayer and a eucharistic procession in the afternoon. The bishop will also celebrate Mass to close the conference. Confession will be available. The exhibit hall will once again highlight apostolates in addition to vendors.

A breakout session for youth — featuring Fr. Aytona and Spiritus team members as presenters — returns this year, but for a different age group.

“Our breakouts used to be for high schoolers in years past,” said Cavil. “Kids are growing up so fast. The high schoolers need to be with the men. They need to be with the adults. The middle schoolers need to be in this breakout session. A cool thing about having middle schoolers is they can’t drive, so they have to bring their dads.”

Follow-up is planned to build on the conference. Joe Tremblay, coordinator of Adult Faith Formation for the Diocese of Green Bay, is leading that effort.

“We want to identify men at parishes who can be Esto Vir reps,” explained Tremblay. “We want to be able to refer men not just to a parish, but to a specific person at the parish. That person can be a tour guide, someone to accompany them.”

Unlike last year’s theater setup, the 2017 conference will feature table seating. All talks and lunch will be held in the same room. The event is for ages 12 and older. To register or for more information, visit www.estovir.com.