Hispanic Men’s Conference stresses role of fathers in the faith

Fr. Pedro Nunez, Spanish-language apologist for EWTN, signs a copy of his book for a conference-goer during the 10th annual Archdiocese of Detroit Hispanic Men’s Conference on March 18 at Western International High School in Detroit. Dan Meloy | The Michigan Catholic

Bishop Flores, former Detroit auxiliary, headlines speakers for 10th annual gathering

DETROIT — The life of a Christian man involves journeying out to tell people about the good news of Jesus Christ, evangelizing through words, deeds and by living a life worthy of a follower of Christ.

On March 18, the image of the evangelist on the road was prominent at Western International High School in Detroit, the site of the 10th annual Archdiocese of Detroit Hispanic Men’s Conference.

During the conference, men heard from speakers such as Bishop Daniel Flores of the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, and a former Detroit auxiliary bishop, about the importance of passing on the faith to the next generation.

“Our identity is Christ calling us to travel and live in communion with Him,” Bishop Flores told The Michigan Catholic. “The man who lives the Christian life walks on a road with the Lord. Life is a journey, a kind of pilgrimage, and this helps us identify who we are as we keep walking with the Lord.”

Bishop Flores said Christ’s call to journey out and evangelize resonates with Hispanic men, many of whom have a personal or family history as migrants. “God puts us here for a reason, and we have a certain witness to give as men, Hispanic men in this country,” Bishop Flores said. “We have a kind of cultural influence in terms of faith, the way we express it in popular devotions, whether it be the Way of the Cross, the Blessed Sacrament or devotion to the Blessed Virgin.”

Bishop Flores was a bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit 11 years ago when the conference started; it’s continued every year since but one. For the Archdiocese of Detroit, which has a prevalent Hispanic community enriched through immigrants and migrants, the conference has been an important opportunity to emphasize the role Hispanic men have in the local faith community.

Luis Aguirre of Holy Family Parish in Novi served as a coordinator for this conference, which had an expected 800 attendees for a day of talks, prayer, Reconciliation and veneration of the Blessed Sacrament.

“What keeps this conference going is the movement of faith not only for those who are here today, but throughout our archdiocese,” Aguirre said. “This conference offers a chance to experience the love of God and to feel comfortable in an environment that offers the cultural aspects we might not necessarily receive in our parish.”

In addition to talks, the conference also featured vendors selling religious items and books catered to the Hispanic community, as well as a Spanish-language band performing praise and worship music.

Bp Flores Bp Flores

This year’s conference took on an added importance as preparation for the upcoming regional V Encuentro gathering, which the Archdiocese of Detroit will host in June. The regional meeting — which will include dioceses from Michigan and Ohio — follows on the diocesan-level gathering in December, and will precede the national V Encuentro gathering Sept. 20-23 in Grapevine, Texas.

“The one challenge for men in the Hispanic community is we have a lot of people of faith, but they don’t necessarily know how to show it or assist in participating in the Church,” Aguirre said. “This conference is here to show what we as parishioners can offer the Church.”

Fr. Pedro Nunez, Hispanic apologist for Irondale, Ala.-based EWTN, gave the second keynote address of the conference and was on hand to sign his latest book Conozca Primero Su Fe Catolica (“First Know Your Catholic Faith”).

For lay Hispanic men, Fr. Nunez said, serving as conduits of evangelization in their families, places of work and in the wider community is a primary task and focus.

“For men, there is this tendency where they work so hard, they might forget about God,” Fr. Nunez said. “It’s very important for men to keep alive the tradition of being Christians, being Catholics, sharing that tradition with the family.”

Fr. Nunez said as families migrate from Mexico or Central American countries to the United States, there is a tendency for children to leave behind some aspects of their parents’ culture in favor of American culture.

Fr. Nunez said children should be encouraged to take up American roots, but also hold onto the faith and traditions that have been passed down for centuries.

“It is important for men to have their families pray together, to share together with the entire family: brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and grandparents,” Fr. Nunez said. “No matter where we find ourselves, no matter the language, the mission of the Church is to evangelize. And for men of the Church, that means to share what it means to walk the path of Christ.”