Catholic men’s conference to focus on heroic virtue in action


Father William Peckman hopes every participant will have his complacency reduced to ashes during the inaugural Heart of a Hero Men’s Conference on Friday and Saturday, April 19 and 20, in Jefferson City.

“I want these men to leave on fire, saying, ‘I’m going home and I’m going to be that heroic protector and provider,’” said Father William Peckman, one of the conference’s speakers.

The event be held from 5 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday and from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in Cana Hall in the lower level of the Cathedral of St. Joseph, 2303 W. Main St. in Jefferson City.

It will include talks by five inspiring speakers, Mass, Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Confessions, and Benediction.

The theme will be 2 Timothy 1:7 — “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather of power and love and self-control.”

The host will be the Jefferson City-based Men of Signum Crucis, a Catholic fraternity of men.

Organizers expect hundreds of participants from all over the Midwest to attend.

Fr. Peckman’s talk will be titled, “Heart of a Hero.”

“That’s something I’m very fired up about,” said Fr. Peckman, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Macon, St. Mary Parish in Shelbina and the Mission of Sacred Heart in Bevier.

“The Scriptures tell us that the husband is the spiritual head of the home,” he noted. “Not should be, but IS.”

Brian Miller, director of evangelization and discipleship for the Archdiocese of St. Louis and organizer of an annual Men’s Conference there, will give a presentation titled, “Set the World on Fire.”

In it, he’ll give practical advice on living as a disciple of Christ in the heart of the Church and on being sent out on mission into the world.

He’ll address challenges to sharing the faith in a secular environment, as well as practical tips to help evangelize in an increasingly hostile environment.

“If we want to be Christlike, we have to take Christ’s holiness and also his mission out into the world,” Mr. Miller stated.

“It will require sacrifice and each person being uniquely who God needs you to be,” he said. “You have gifts and talents that your family and the world desperately need.”

Mr. Miller developed his missionary zeal while serving for four years as a FOCUS Missionary to evangelize college students on several campuses throughout the country and through a profound encounter with Christ during Pope St. John Paul II’s visit to St. Louis in 1999.

Mr. Miller will outline the need for faith- and mission-driven men in every level of society.

“We all long to see our churches come alive, the communities we belong to being lifted up and transformed,” he said.

“I will talk about how I’ve seen all of this happen, how there’s hope and light in the Church, and give them some tips on how to make that happen,” he stated.

Heroic virtue

Fr. Peckman is the author of A Young Catholics Guide to Spiritual Warfare and co-author of Let Freedom Ring: A 40 Day Tactical Training for Freedom from the Devil.

He cited repeated studies indicating that a father’s level of spiritual engagement has enormous bearing on whether his children will practice their faith as adults.

He’ll address that correlation in his talk, as well as the reasons he and Father David Veit started the Camp Maccabee summer camp to help high-school-age boys claim their identity as heroes, providers, protectors and the spiritual heads of their households.

“Virtue, virtue, virtue!” Fr. Peckman stated. “Without that, you can’t have the heroism.”

He’ll draw on highlights from Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s “Into the Breech: An Apostolic Exhortation to Catholic Men, my Spiritual Sons in the Diocese of Phoenix.”

He’ll cite examples such as how firefighters and other first-responders ran into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“What we see there is self-giving love at its highest level in the modern age,” the priest stated.

“They knew from their training that there was no guarantee that they’d come back out. But they ran in at break-neck speed anyway.”

Craving connection

Mr. Miller knows firsthand the value of cultivating friendship and camaraderie among Catholic men.

“That’s where the transformation really takes place,” he said. “You know you’re not alone and that the Lord is calling you to do something, and you have the support and encouragement from the guys around you who lift you up.”

He said that in this age, American men tend to be lonelier than ever before.

“Guys are clearly very hungry for community and for the challenge to make them better men,” he stated.

“Sometimes, we’re stubborn and want to do it all on our own,” he noted. “But we’re much more effective when we have a community to lean on and to encourage us and help us do these things.”

Society, suffering and survival

The evening presentation on April 19 will be given by Lamar Hunt Jr., founder of the Loretto Foundation.

His father was the founder and longtime owner of the Kansas City Chiefs football team, as well as a seminal contributor to the foundation of Major League Soccer in America.

The foundation is dedicated to helping to build strong families and support communities by promoting the intrinsic dignity of all human beings, with a special focus on people who are poor and underserved by society.

Mr. Hunt is active in a variety of charities across Kansas City in addition those offered through the Loretto Foundation.

He believes that strong families come from strong communities and vice versa.

Saturday presenters will also include:

  • Adam Wright, on-air host of the Covenant Network Catholic Radio’s “Roadmap to Heaven” program, speaking on “The Redemptive Power of Suffering.”

He previously served for 16 years in parish music ministry and youth and young adult ministry.

  • Catholic author, editor and speaker Andrew Swafford STD, professor of theology at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, speaking on “Spiritual Survival.”

He is co-author of Gift and Grit: How Heroic Virtue Can Change Your Life and Relationships; A Catholic Guide to the Old Testament; and What We Believe: The Beauty of the Catholic Faith and co-host of Ascension’s video series filmed in Rome under the same title.

Times and cost

The cost per person for the conference is $30 for either day; $40 for both days; $20 for students; and no charge for priests and seminarians.

Pre-registration is highly recommended, so the organizers know how many people to plan for.

Check-in for the Friday session begins at 4:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 5:30 p.m. and Mr. Hunt’s presentation at 6:30, followed by a reception.

Registration on Saturday will begin with coffee and donuts at 8 a.m. Welcoming remarks will be at 8:45 a.m., with the talks starting at 9 a.m.

The Men of Signum Crucis was founded for its members to support one another in their quest for deeper knowledge and love of God and the living of their faith.

As the Men’s Conference draws near, Mr. Miller asked for prayers for open hearts both for the speakers and the men who will hear them.

“Pray that I continue to be transformed into the servant I need to be, and from that will flow the blessings,” he requested.

Contact Mark Rehagen at 573-680-2520 or for information.

To learn more about the event or to register, visit: