Conference earns praise for addressing men’s issues

COLUMBIA—The 2019 South Carolina Catholic Men’s Conference drew praise from attendees.

 Tom Monahon of Aiken, a member of the Knights of Columbus, which co-sponsors the conference along with the Diocese of Charleston, said 172 men attended this year’s event March 2. A smaller group of women heard some of the same speakers at a separate gathering the night before. Both conferences were held at Cardinal Newman School.

“It was overwhelmingly well received,” Monahon said, basing his comments on the results of exit surveys and comment cards. “Ninety-eight percent rated it in the excellent to very good category. We got one comment card that said ‘this has changed my life.’ Another one wrote: ‘This was great. I’m bringing my son next year.’”

Monahon praised the panel of speakers that included Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, a Catholic evangelist, speaker, radio host and author; Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, the bishop of Charleston; Father Dwight Longenecker, a nationally-known speaker, author, and pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary in Greenville; and Father Raymond Flores, parochial vicar at St. Mary Help of Christians in Aiken.

“It was one of the best we’ve had,” Monahon said. “Deacon Burke-Sivers just blew people away. He was dynamic and outstanding. He addressed men’s issues — pornography, masturbation, how to be a better husband, and spiritual warfare in today’s culture.”

As director of the diocesan Office of Family Life, Kathy Schmugge attended both the women’s and men’s conferences, and said the speakers tailored their presentations to each group.

“I get to hear the speakers speak to an all-woman’s group, then the next day, I hear them speak to the all-men’s group,” she said. “And I can tell you, not only the delivery, but the response is so different, and yet so rewarding and so targeted. They know how to speak to their audience.”

Ed Griffin of Rock Hill has attended every men’s conference since the first one, around six years ago, and said that each year the conference offers men a number of take-aways.

“I think each individual takes away something different. If you talk to me, or you talk to somebody else, it might be entirely different,” Griffin said. “I kind of like the spiritual part of it: the Mass, the reflection period; as well as all the speakers who talked on a variety of subjects.”

Monahon said the message he took away from the conference is that men need to be spiritual leaders of their family and themselves, in service to their wives, children and church.

Photo provided: Speaker Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, left, talks to Adrian G. Maravilla, a participant from Goose Creek.