The Deacon's Bench


It happened in Connecticut, at a men’s conference that attracted hundreds of the faithful:

The bright, sunny Saturday, Oct. 23, was a perfect day for men to tackle important projects: rake leaves, clean rain gutters, install storm windows, deepen their faith.

Deepen their faith? Yes, that’s what more than 800 men did by attending the third annual Connecticut Catholic Men’s Conference, an all-day event held at the Oakdale Theatre.

“This is just good Catholic men getting together,” said David Craig, national director for Adoration for Vocation and this year’s conference organizer. “There’s a void, there’s a hunger in men to grow in spirituality and grow with other men.”

A roster of motivational speakers was a major reason men chose to spend a Saturday away from their families. For Jeannot Michaud, who has attended all three yearly conferences, it’s more than that. “It’s about your faith,” said Mr. Michaud, a member of Bristol Palos Council 35, Knights of Columbus. “It’s in eye-opener in a lot of different areas. All the guys should get involved and increase their faith.”

Marian Father Donald Calloway, a convert to Catholicism, delivered an address that he described as “a divine two-by-four across the face, a divine kick in the pants.” In sometimes earthy language, the 38-year-old Father Calloway told of his dissolute youth, a life of alcohol, drugs, sex and criminality, and of his miraculous conversion. Before turning his life around, he ran away from his military family in Japan, ran drugs and money for the Japanese Mafia, was a wanted criminal in Japan at age 15, and was institutionalized twice.

When he hit rock bottom, he found himself alone in his room. “Brothers, the silence was so loud, it was screaming at me,” he said. He wanted to commit suicide but didn’t want to feel the pain of dying, so he looked around for something to read, to occupy his mind. He chanced upon a book about a Marian apparition at Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and it changed his life. He wanted to become a Catholic.

After months of study, he was confirmed in the Catholic faith and pursued the priesthood, studying at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio; the Dominican House of Studies in Washington; and the International Marian Research Institute in Dayton, Ohio. He was ordained at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., in 2003.

And that’s just for starters. Check out the rest.

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