Diocesan News

(Event postponed) ‘Faith and Reason, Distilled’

The seminar planned for June 18 has been postponed. Please see www.matthew1618.net for more information.


Seminar for men includes steak dinner, whiskey demonstration

Story by Tess Wahlmeier

LINCOLN (SNR) – Men have a unique role in their families, parishes, communities, and society. 

Catholic theologian Scott Hahn says if a child is the first in the family to experience a religious conversion, in 3.7% of families, the other family members will also become Christians. If the mother is the first to have a conversion, in 17% of families, the others will follow her. But if the father is the first to be converted, in 93% of families, the other family members will also become active in the Church. 

Men are leaders, providers, and play many other roles in the family; however, the culture is doing all it can to make men believe they are unnecessary.  This is why Bob Sullivan of St. Cecilia Parish in Hastings has organized a “Faith and Reason” seminar specifically for men.

“God has never called men to be quiet and timid followers,” he writes. “God creates each Christian to be an unshakeable witness to faith, hope and love. It is the world who expects us to mince our words to avoid the possibility of offending others. This has never been a simple task for any disciple of Christ. Today’s culture places even more pressure on men who accept God’s call.

“It takes great humility, courage and fortitude to reject the lies and distortions so readily embraced in American culture today. With some preparation, equipping and training, you can answer God’s call and successfully overcome attacks from the enemies of truth in the world. This seminar is one step, possibly your first step, toward becoming the man God created you to be.”

Sullivan said that the Diocese of Lincoln is ahead of the game, with regard to Catholic practice, in many ways – Mass attendance, ordinations, the number of men discerning the seminary and women discerning religious life – but one area that’s not quite as strong is male spirituality, which is lagging behind nationwide as well.

“What does it look like to be a Catholic man who isn’t going to be a priest?” Sullivan asked.  “That’s what we’re really missing. If our laity was following the same trajectory as our clergy, our Catholic schools would be building bigger schools Our Catholic churches would have to be adding Masses on the weekends or expanding the seating capacity in the sanctuary instead of adding capacity to a church hall.

“We would see people active in their Catholic school system and in their parish generations down the line, instead of seeing them mostly while their kids are in school.” he continued.

“Sometimes we’re a little active in the parish and then we drift away.  We aren’t seeing the growth in laity like we are with vocations. We’re kind of holding static – we aren’t losing as much as the rest of the country in those areas, but we’re still losing, and so I think it really comes down to modeling, as a layman: modeling your faith effectively to your kids so that we do hand down that faith.  Instead of holding our finger in the dike, we should see a lot of growth instead of just a lot slower loss.”

The seminar will be held Saturday, June 18 from 1 to 8 p.m. at the Newman Center, and the day will be filled not only with learning, but with fellowship. Registration includes a steak dinner and whiskey demonstration.

“It’s not going to be all theology, all day that way,” Sullivan said. “There will be plenty of breaks, and one of those breaks before the meal is going to be an opportunity to learn about a manly thing which is whiskey: how it’s made, why some taste different than others, and how to appropriately drink it. It’ll just add a little lightness to the day.”

With Father’s Day in mind, Sullivan said he hopes the seminar is a way for men to take time to really work on themselves so that they can give more back to their families afterward. Families are also invited to join the men at 8 p.m. for Mass.

The seminar will feature several speakers.

Father Joseph Faulkner will give a historic perspective on the Church’s success over evil in the past, and how this relates to the battles the Church faces today.

“What we’re facing today might seem daunting, but if we align ourselves with Christ, amazing things happen,” Sullivan said.

Matt Simmons will speak about approaching prayer as a man, and will offer ways to acquire tools and weapons men will need in order to answer God’s call. Father Michael Zimmer will talk about the importance of handing down the faith to the next generation, and will demonstrate ways to do so in an effective manner.

Ed Morse, professor at Creighton University School of Law and member of the Thomas More Society, will speak on the cost of freedom and the opportunity for martyrdom.

“The martyrs aren’t done,” Sullivan said. “They aren’t just over in the Middle East right now. We have to be prepared for some form of martyrdom in our lives, as well – a witness of the faith.”

Martin Canon, attorney and member of the Thomas More Society, will explain the realities and implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.  Dr. Michael Skoch, M.D., will speak about the medical consequences of adopting the lifestyle many in the culture push.

Sullivan organized a Faith and Reason seminar last October in Hastings, attended by more than 200.  According to 100 who responded to a survey afterward, 95% said their confidence in the Catholic faith increased, and the remainder who didn’t said that they already came in to the seminar with a high confidence in their faith.

“Those people said they were more likely to share their faith or go out and defend their faith actively after that seminar,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan encouraged men to participate in the seminar, but also asks wives, mothers, and fiancés to encourage their men to attend.

The cost of registration is $100, which includes the steak dinner and whiskey tasting.  There will also be materials available for purchase during the seminar, such as Catholic books, CDs, rosaries, etc. To register, visit matthew1618.net or call 402-469-5149.

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