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Matt Birk, a six-time NFL Pro Bowl Selection and two-time All Pro, a Super Bowl Champion, and the 2011 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, will be one of three speakers featured at the Catholic Men of Faith Conference held Saturday, Feb. 29, at St. Philip Church in Franklin.

Birk, a 15-year veteran of the NFL as an offensive lineman with the Baltimore Ravens, first caught the attention of the Catholic community when he declined to visit the White House with his teammates after their Super Bowl win as a protest against President Barack Obama’s pro-choice views on abortion, said Sheri Isham, one of the organizers for the conference.

A graduate of Harvard, Birk is also a successful businessman and the author of the book “All Pro Wisdom: The Seven Choices That Lead To Greatness.”


The conference will feature two more speakers:

• Gary Zimak, a best-selling author, radio show host and blogger, and Catholic evangelist. Zimak, who wrote the book “Give Up Worry for Lent,” speaks about how to use Jesus’ help to overcome stress and anxiety, Isham said.

• Greg Willits, the founder and executive director of New Evangelizeers and the Rosary Army, and the former executive director of the Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries for the Archdiocese of Denver.


Willits has written the book “Tied in Knots: Finding Peace in Today’s World.” Like Zemak, he speaks on finding peace in an anxious world.

“The speakers’ talks are very motivational and testimony based about their life-changing experiences and how the power of God and His Church impacts their lives,” Isham said.

The conference will be held early on the first weekend of Lent, Isham noted. She hopes men will use the conference for spiritual renewal and to set new goals for themselves in the new year.

The conference is open to everyone, particularly men high school aged and older, Isham said.

“I’ve found the Men’s Conference to be a great father-son day,” said Isham’s husband Mark, also an organizer of the conference. “We’ve always golfed and hunted together and now are connecting spiritually too. Especially lately, we text asking for prayers about work situations.”

The theme of this year’s conference is taken from Proverbs 27:17: “As Iron Sharpens Iron, So Man Sharpens His Fellow Man.”

Isham hopes conference attendees will share the experience with a friend. “Each one bring one,” she said. “Help another guy strengthen his faith. It will be worth it.”

The doors will open at 7:30 a.m. and the conference will begin at 8:30 a.m. with Mass celebrated by Bishop J. Mark Spalding.

The day also will include adoration, confessions, exhibitors and more, Isham said.

Tickets cost $45 in advance and $50 at the door. Students pay $25. The cost includes lunch. Men are encouraged to register online at the conference’s website:, but walk-ins are welcome.

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