Judas Iscariot, the most hated man in history, will speak at the 13th annual Men's Conference on March 21. The conference will also welcome musician Deacon Allen Tatara and wild man Mark Houck.
Judas, actually actor Mark Price, will speak on sin and forgiveness.
"We don't know how this is going to turn out, but it's going to be different," said Deacon James Jaworski, diocesan coordinator for the Catholic Men's Fellowship, which sponsors the annual Men's Conference.
Deacon Jaworski found Price while planning an event for his parish's Lenten Mission. Price is a San Diego-based Shakespearean actor who regularly portrays characters from the New Testament.
"I called him and we started talking about doing this thing at our parish," Deacon Jaworski said. "When he mentioned Judas as the perfect lead in to a second night of a mission where you might have the sacrament of reconciliation, I thought that this would be fabulous for the guys. The Men's Conference is purposely held during Lent and welcomes nearly 40 priests to hear confessions.
Other speakers include Deacon Tatara, a high-energy speaker and musician from the Archdiocese of Chicago. His blog "On the Inside; On the Outside" describes how everyday events can be opportunities for growing closer to God and serving others.
"(He's a) very engaging speaker and he's a professional musician also," Deacon Jaworski said. "He incorporates music into his presentations."
Houck is the co-founder of the King's Men, a ministry of men who pledge to unite and build up other men in the mold of leader, protector and provider through education, formation, healing and action. The King's Men are known for their "Into The Wild" camping retreats.
The conference will include a two-hour lunch break, where participants can take part in adoration, reconciliation, prayer, breakout sessions and fellowship. Bishop Richard J. Malone will celebrate Mass at the close of the event.
The purpose of the Catholic Men's Fellowship is to get men of all ages to come to the conference, let the Holy Spirit take over and lead them back to families, parishes and communities to do good. The men support each other through parish-based fellowship groups.
The conference serves as an "igniter" for those who attend.
"What we're trying to do is empower these guys to become involved in their parish, Holy Name Society, Knights of Columbus, service projects," Deacon Jaworski said. "If they want to form something - discussion groups, prayer groups, Bible studies - we've had all kinds of things happen like that because of the conference."
Generally about 700 to 1,000 men aged 8-99 attend the conference. Priests and seminarians are invited at no charge. The men pray for priests and deacons, and show their gratitude for them during lunch.
"Not many times do they get that positive affirmation from 1,000 guys standing and cheering for them. I've actually seen priests cry," Deacon Jaworski said. "So, it's a very positive thing for our clergy too."
Doors open at 7:30 a.m., with the program beginning at 8:15 a.m. The conference is expected to end at 3:15 p.m. Regular admission is $30, which covers conference, coffee and donuts and box lunch.
For more information and to register visit www.SpiritIsCalling.org.