COLORADO SPRINGS. For the past two years, the Inferno Men’s ministry has been working to reach men from all walks and stages of life and help them to grow in their faith. Through monthly forums, which are informal gatherings where men can enjoy beer and fellowship, as well as the smaller core group meetings where men discuss their spiritual and moral challenges, Inferno has grown to a network of roughly 500 men around the Diocese of Colorado Springs.
Now, the ministry is looking to cast an even wider net by holding a men’s conference at the Antlers Hotel in downtown Colorado Springs, with a high-profile priest as the keynote speaker. The conference will take place Nov. 9 and will feature Father Mike Schmitz.
Father Schmitz is the campus chaplain at the University of Minnesota at Duluth. In addition, he has written several books and study programs published by Ascension Press. His “Ascension Presents” series of videos on YouTube addresses various spiritual topics, such as prayer, discerning God’s will, and reading sacred Scripture, as well as moral questions such as tattoos, alcohol consumption and same-sex attraction. The videos have been viewed by millions of people around the world. Father Schmitz has also spoken at national conferences of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) and Franciscan University of Steubenville.
“Father Mike has such a tremendous following and such a broad reach on social media,” said Tom Waits, one of the conference organizers. “All of the men involved in Inferno have heard of Father Mike, watched his videos and been really moved by his message. He seems to be able to bridge generations in a really unique way, and that’s really important to the Inferno mission.”
The conference will also include breakout sessions on topics such as apologetics, overcoming pornography addiction and leadership in the family. Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. Confessions and eucharistic adoration will be available from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The conference will also include Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael Sheridan.
Ryan Englehardt, who leads an Inferno Core group at St. Patrick Parish, said that the Inferno ministry has born spiritual fruits for the men who are involved.
“We have 12-15 people coming every two weeks,” Englehardt said of the core group meetings. “We are seeing some men who credit joining the group with re-engaging their faith after being away from the Church for a period of time. Others credit Inferno with saving their marriages, and some who were unchurched have converted to the Catholic faith.”
Englehardt said that having the support of St. Patrick pastor Father Michael Goodyear has been key to the group’s success.
“Father Goodyear has been a huge help in bringing men to those meetings, talking about it after Mass and allowing us to meet at the rectory,” Englehardt said. “He is also available for confession.”
Luke Vercollone, one of the founders of Inferno, said that some of the members have taken an accountability pledge for friendship, evangelization and prayer.
“The brotherhood, accountability and friendship that we share really goes a long way,” he said.
To register for the conference, visit www.conference.infernomen.com. Space is limited.