Folks, it’s that time of year again. The Midwest Catholic Family Conference looms on the horizon, and I’m very, very excited. This is an annual conference that takes place on the first full weekend of August in Wichita, Kansas. This year, the conference is being held from Friday evening, on August 7th, to Sunday, August 9th, in the afternoon. Now why should you consider giving up an entire weekend to be in Kansas? Here are 12 reasons why this conference is worth considering:
- The weekend will be a hefty dose of Catholicism and Sacraments. There’s a huge schedule of fantastic talks and activities for all ages. The talks and activities involve topics that are relevant to Catholics who seek to encounter the culture and live the Gospel in today’s world. Not only are there plenty of talks, but there’s Mass offered on the Saturday and Sunday, a lot of Eucharistic Adoration, an outdoor Eucharistic Procession, and tons of Confessions.
- Priests. And Religious. And Seminarians. Everywhere! Young, joyful, exuberant men and women who are discerning or who have dedicated their lives to Christ abound at this conference.
- Good conversations overflow the building. At this conference, I always have to leave extra-early for talks—because I know it’ll take me about 15-20 minutes to get there, since I end up having so many great conversations on the way. There are lots of booths in the Expo Hall, and the people who run the tables are the nicest people ever! If you approach them, they will talk with you about anything and everything! If you have prayer requests, questions about the Faith, or you’re just excited about life, talk to a Booth Person J (A few years back, I ran a booth for The Chastity Project, and I had so many amazing conversations with people that weekend. It was an incredible experience)
- It can light your Faith life on fire. Being surrounded by so many passionate young people, old people, big families, small families, priests, and religious really gives you hope for the Church. And it lights a fire in you, as you see the tremendous love that God offers all of us.
- You can make new friends and network like crazy! It’s a small world if you’re Catholic, and the kinds of connections you can make with people (especially if you’ve attended a Catholic college) is hilariously fantastic. This conference is a great way to network and to make new friends who are all eager to grow in their Faith. Particularly if you attend every year, you start to see the same people all over again, which is pretty cool. When I was in middle school, I met an awesome girl who lived in another state. But every single year for a few years in a row, we would meet up at the Conference and hang out.
- Great talks by awesome speakers. The conference has hosted everyone from The Donut Man to Jason Evert to Immaculee Ilibagiza to Fr. Benedict Groeschel. Solid, orthodox Catholics give superb talks about all areas of the Catholic Faith. A lot of them try to be at their booths when they aren’t giving talks, which provides a great opportunity to have one-on-one conversations, take pictures, or ask for autographs. Also, on this topic…
- Tim Staples. He used to be a Southern Baptist and a Marine. Now he’s a Catholic speaker and apologist. Tim Staples is a regular attendee at the conference every year, and you really must go to one of his talks. He’s a fantastic speaker J
- There are some awesome booths for shopping, conversations, or picking up great reading material (and free candy!). I will share one of my top strategic tips for shopping at the Conference: sometimes (not always, but occasionally), the booths will start running sales on Sunday afternoon, so that they don’t have to ship back their surplus merchandise. So, as the end of the Conference draws near, keep your eyes open for those last-minute, really awesome deals. Also, not all of the booths take debit or credit cards, so bring some cash.
- There are age appropriate activities for the ENTIRE FAMILY! (from the age of 3 on up) There are typically two different adult talks offered continuously, and there’s a middle school program, a high school program, and a variety of rooms for the younger kids. The talks and activities are all very engaging and informative, and when the family comes together for Mass, lunch, and at the end of the day, they can all discuss the different things they learned about.
- It’s affordable. Or free. For an entire weekend of awesomeness. Until July 31st, advance registration is only $125 for the entire family for the entire weekend! A single day is only $70 for the entire family. A married couple is $110 for the entire weekend (in advance). Maybe you’re a teenager who wants to attend, but your family doesn’t? Then you can find another family to join, and it will only cost you $30 for the entire weekend (in advance). Priests, Deacons, Religious, and Seminarians all get in for FREE!!!!! So that’s pretty awesome. And, if you volunteer for one day in the Conference, your entire family gets in for free. So that’s really, really awesome. Also, for the budget-conscious (like myself), I recommend packing a cooler with lunch; there are places you can stash your cooler during the morning. That way, you can eat your lunch on the grass outside, and hop inside to booth-hop before the afternoon talks! (there are tons of fast food places nearby, too, but you typically have to find your car and drive to those)
- For all you P&W lovers, Matt Maher will be there! He’s kicking off the conference with a concern on Friday, August 7th, and the concert is included in your registration fee! So if you’ve always wanted to see him in person, you can.
- It’s taking place in Wichita. If you haven’t read my post about Wichita (Not Just Tornadoes and Toto), then check it out. So if the conference isn’t enough for you, you can go church-and-Adoration-chapel-hopping afterwards (But to give you fair warning, you will most likely be very exhausted after the conference, so you probably won’t feel like doing that).
And, if you need another perk to attending the conference this year…I’ll be there! I mean, that’s not really a reason why you should attend, but, if you do attend, I’d love to see you! I will be frolicking around the Children’s Program a bunch on one of the days, but otherwise, I’ll hopefully be booth-hopping, going to talks, and chatting with people!
If you’re interested in learning more about the conference, regardless of whether or not you want to attend, I invite you to visit the website. Check it out, think about it, and who knows? Maybe we’ll run into each other in Wichita!