Anne-Marie Welsh

      It began with a simple concept and a simple Scripture verse.

      The annual 22:32 Men’s Conference, sponsored by the Reason for our Hope Foundation based in the Diocese of Erie, gives hundreds of men the opportunity for a day of fellowship, prayer and reflection. Reservations are now being accepted for the 2020 event, planned for Sat., February 29 from 9 am to 3:30 pm, at Our Lady of Peace Parish, 2401 W. 38th Street, Erie. Details about a similar event offered for women are listed below.

     “It’s a great opportunity to have an encounter with Christ, to learn about your faith, and to come together with other men to pray,” says Erie Bishop Lawrence Persico, who has attended each of the day-long events since they were introduced in the diocese seven years ago.

     The gatherings began with inspiration from verse 32 in chapter 22 of the Gospel of Luke: “But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” The event includes prayer, dynamic speakers, time for reflection, adoration, an opportunity for confession and a closing Mass celebrated by Bishop Persico. Open to men ranging from high school and college-age through adulthood, middle age, retirees and beyond, participants enjoy the chance to interact with men from all walks of life and all parts of the Diocese of Erie and beyond.

     “Our mission is simple, to bring men to Christ and strengthen our brothers so we can be leaders of the faith in all we do,” the foundation’s website says.   

     Speakers featured this year include Ralph Martin, president of Renewal Ministries, an organization devoted to Catholic renewal and evangelization; Father Michael Denk, a priest of the Diocese of Cleveland, author of “Pray40Days: The Personal Relationship With God You Have Always Wanted,” and the creator of the “Examen Prayer App;” and Chris Padgett, a speaker and musician dedicated to communicating the truth of Christ’s love and forgiveness in a way that makes a difference.

     Registration forms can be downloaded at Tickets, which include lunch, are $40, or $35 per person for a group of eight. High school students under 17, who must be accompanied by an adult registered for the conference, can participate for just $10, and scholarship information is available at the website.

     Women interested in a similar experience should set aside Sat., March 28 to attend the 1:38 Women’s Conference, also scheduled to take place at Our Lady of Peace Parish, Erie, from 9 am to 3:30 pm. This year’s featured speakers are Caralyn Collar, author of the blog BeautyBeyondBones; radio host Alyssa Bormes of Catholic Kaleidoscope; and inspirational speaker Sister Regina Marie Gorman, OCD, of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart. Registrations can be downloaded at