Last year, the National Men’s Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, featured the person who is arguably the most famous actor portraying Jesus in film today. This year, the conference for Catholic men will feature the most famous Jesus actor on television.
The National Men’s Conference, formerly known as the Cincinnati Men’s Conference, bills itself as the “Godfather and original event of Catholic men’s conferences.” It will take place on Saturday, March 25, at the 10,500-seat Cintas Center in Cincinnati.
Jonathan Roumie, who portrays Jesus in The Chosen series, will headline the event.
Organizer Joe Condit said that when he was lining up speakers, he wondered how he could top the 2022 lineup. Last year’s conference featured Jim Caviezel, who portrayed Jesus in Mel Gibson’s blockbuster, The Passion of the Christ.
“I was thinking to myself, ‘How the heck am I going to top the most famous Jesus character of all time?’ Well, I got the almost-as-famous Jesus character of all time,” Condit said in an interview.
Because Roumie is so focused on filming season four of The Chosen right now, he is only speaking publicly about two or three times this year, Condit said.
The conference, which aims to bring together men of all faiths for fellowship and connection, will also feature the Archduke of Austria, Christian Habsburg-Lorraine, the grandson of Blessed Karl of Austria. The Archduke, a descendant of the Habsburg dynasty, has never before spoken in the United States.
St. Joseph and football
Condit said that he also signed up two offensive linemen to speak, “because like St. Joseph, they protect and do the dirty work that nobody gets glorified for.”
So Ted Karras, center for the Cincinnati Bengals, will be one of the discussion panelists, along with Joe Reitz, former offensive lineman with the Indianapolis Colts; Bengals Defense Coach Mark Duffner, and Fr. Tom Wray, the Bengals’ Catholic Chaplain.
“I got these guys because they need to be what these young guys coming to the conference look up to,” Condit said. “These guys exemplify St. Joseph. They do the dirty work, sometimes without a thank you, without a lot of stardom. But they’re doing the most important work of the entire game, just as St. Joseph did protecting Mary and protecting the infant Jesus. Well these guys protect the most important two things in the game: the ball and the quarterback. And we’re going to bring that full circle in the discussion on how men need to protect the most important things in their lives: their faith and their family.”
Additionally, Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr of Cincinnati; author Jesuit Fr. Robert Spitzer; Jeff Schiefelbein, founder of The Undivided Life, and Bishop Earl Fernandes of Columbus, Ohio, will address the conference.
Men can participate either in person or virtually, but Condit emphasizes that there are great benefits at being at an event in person.
“It’s interesting to see the effects of when men come together in a physical place, what God does with that,” he said, adding that while modern technology can be used for good purposes, it can also “make us lazy, to not want to go someplace in person.”
“But when people come together in one room, people meet, and the good Lord takes it from there and good things happen that no man can control or design,” he said.
Condit said he hopes the conference will help attendees “become just a little bit better at their faith.” He’s inspired by his own personal memory of a high school basketball coach who would tell players that if they strove to get just a little better at their game every day, “you will be light years better by the end of the year.”
“The men who attend this conference, it will change their lives, because we’re going to give them tools so they can become a little bit better at their faith every day,” said Condit. “And they will be a completely different man – faith-wise, leadership-wise, business-wise – this time next year, in the name of Christ.”