Some 900 men from all corners of the diocese filled the SRC Arena and Events Center in Syracuse March 29 for the sixth IGNITE Catholic Men’s Conference. Men gathered for a day of prayer, speakers, fellowship and, in keeping with the conference’s theme, returning to the Lord.
The day kicked off with Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert J. Cunningham, after which attendees heard three speakers — Envoy Institute Chief Operations Officer Ken Davison; national Catholic evangelist speaker Richard Lane; and former senior National Hockey League referee Kerry Fraser — share their unique stories of conversion to Catholicism.
Having just listened to Lane, who urged the crowd to a new commitment to Christ during his high-energy talk, two parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Utica felt their faith invigorated.
Mike White, 12, said his takeaway from Lane’s talk was that “I should spread the word of God more and try to help some people who are drifting away from him and his teachings.”
Michael White, his father, agreed. “Don’t keep it bottled up. It’s not a gift that we get to keep; we have to share it,” he said.
Blair Kahler, a parishioner of St. Joseph-St. Patrick’s Church in Utica, brought his brother and 10-year-old son Blair Jr. to the conference. Having attended every IGNITE conference, Kahler said it’s always great to see so many men gathered together and to know that at “any stage in your life, you can let God in.”
Conference organizers are already working on IGNITE 2015, which will be held March 21 at the SRC Arena. Scheduled to speak are Catholic apologist and author Steve Ray, retreat master and past IGNITE favorite Father Larry Richards and Fellowship of Catholic University Students founder Curtis Martin.
Here, a look at this year’s conference.