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(Bowman-Francis Ministry)

The National Black Catholic Men’s Conference has returned to in-person status for 2022, scheduled for October 13-16th in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The annual event run by the Bowman-Francis Ministry from the Society of the Divine Word is now in its 19th year, and will be held at the JW Marriott hotel in the city’s downtown area. The conference had previously been virtual since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The theme for this year’s event is “We Were Made for More”, building on the Joshua 1:9 passage from the Old Testament and mirroring the theme of the ministry’s ongoing virtual men’s Bible study, which began earlier this month.

“This is truly a blessing for us,” said Fr Charles Smith, SVD in a conference announcement video released on April 26th.

Keynote speakers for the event were announced earlier this month and include Fr Kenneth Hamilton, SVD of Oakland, California; Fr Agustino Torres, CFR of New York; Fr George Kintiba, SVD of Maryland; Dr. Levi Funches of Indiana University; and Archbishop Charles Thompson of Indianapolis.

Hamilton, who co-founded BFM, serves as a priest-in-residence at St Columba Catholic Church and as a theologian, while Kintiba is a university professor and staff member with the poverty relief organization Cross Catholic Outreach. Torres, a nationally known public speaker, is the founder and leader of the popular Hispanic youth ministry Corazon Puro; he also co-founded New York’s Catholic Underground as an apostolate of his religious order, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.

“There will be workshops, health fairs, vendor booths, praise and worship, and an awesome Mass filled with Holy Ghost power,” Smith said of the upcoming conference.

Last year’s virtual event featured an opening libation ceremony invoking Black saints, as well as panel discussions addressing issues in the Black community and workshops led by Black clergy and professionals.

Black men of all ages are invited to attend in Indianapolis, and registration starts at $65 and $75 for youth/HS and college students, respectively. Adult early bird registration is $100 before September 1st. The registration fee includes lunch on Saturday and a conference t-shirt.

Discounted hotel rates are available at the conference site as well as the Spring Hill Suites by Marriott located nextdoor.

Registration can be submitted online or by mail, and details can be found on the ministry’s website. Digital ad submissions for the conference souvenir booklet can also be made through September 1st, beginning at $25.

BFM is led by Smith and Hamilton, both ordained during the Black Catholic Movement of the late 20th century. They were joined in the founding of the ministry by Frs Anthony Clark, SVD and Chester Smith, SVD—Charles’ twin brother—both of whom have since passed.

The name of the organization comes from two prominent figures from the Movement era: Servant of God Thea Bowman and the late Bishop Joseph Francis, SVD.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).

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