The National Black Catholic Men’s Conference is back, and going virtual for the second year in a row.

Organized once again by the Society of the Divine Word’s Bowman-Francis Ministry, the 18th annual gathering is scheduled for October 14-17th and will occur over Zoom.

The theme for this year’s event is “Deliver Me from Myself”, following the BFM virtual men’s Bible study over the summer on the theme of humility.

Last year’s conference featured speakers around the country, including BFM’s co-founders Frs Charles Smith, SVD and Ken Hamilton, SVD. They were joined by Frs Anthony Bozeman, SSJ and Sidney Speaks; Andrew Lyke of Arusi Network, Dr. Cameron Beatty of Florida State University, and Fr George Kintiba, SVD.

(A third BFM co-founder, Smith’s twin Fr Chester Smith, SVD, passed in April 2020.)

This year’s conference speakers have not yet been announced, but Men in the Fire, a male gospel group, provides music for the conference each year.

Smith and Hamilton joined Fr Roy Lee on the African American Catholic Podcast in May to discuss that group, as well as the history and ethos of the conference and how it came about.

“Even our White [SVD] superiors said, ‘Why do you all want to come together? Why do you want this? Why all these Black men coming together?’,” Smith said on the episode.

“Ken and I and Chester answered it like this: ‘Why not a Black Catholic Men’s Conference?’”

Smith went on to emphasize the challenges facing the Black male community on the “social, emotional, and spiritual” level, adding that the struggle is not helped by the fact that “we live in a racist Church”.

Throughout the pandemic, BFM has hosted virtual events aiming to address these issues, including Bible studies, prayer events, and periodic video messages. (A back-to-school webinar is scheduled for August 14th.)

The conference is the group’s flagship event, held in a major American city every year but limited to an online format since 2020 due to the pandemic.

Early bird registration for this year’s event is currently available for $100 for adults, and $50 for youths aged 13-17. The cost includes an official conference t-shirt. Registration closes on September 28th.

Advertisements in the conference souvenir booklet can be purchased using the form located here.


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


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