By Dan Russo
CEDAR RAPIDS — After bringing some of the most prominent national Catholic speakers to Cedar Rapids for over 20 years, this year’s Men’s Conference, scheduled for March 16 at Xavier Catholic High School, will feature heavy hitting local talent.
Anthony Digmann, a theology teacher at Beckman Catholic High School in Dyersville, will be giving the two keynote speeches. The author and speaker has appeared internationally in Catholic media outlets such as EWTN and Radio Maria. He has three books — “Using the Force: Star Wars and Catholicism”; “Demonology, Exorcism, and Holiness” and “Sign of Contradiction: Contraception, Family Planning, and Catholicism.”
“I’m really excited to connect with men from the archdiocese and possibly beyond,” said Digmann of his upcoming engagement.
The annual conference is sponsored annually by the Catholic Men’s Fellowship, a ministry led by lay men of the archdiocese which works to enhance spiritual lives through fostering men’s groups at parishes and bringing together men of faith at the conference. Aside from the keynotes, the day will feature smaller breakout sessions led by local priests, deacons and laity that will cover a variety of topics. There will also be a Mass, opportunities for reconciliation, and the chance to connect with Catholic organizations and vendors from around the region.
Digmann’s two latest books came out in January 2019. The former took two years to write and was a labor of love based on his lifelong passion for the “Star Wars” movies. The second book came out of his experience with questions from his students. It will form the basis for his first talk at the Men’s Conference.
“We really don’t know much as Catholics about exorcism and what demons are and how to avoid them,” he said. “This is actually something I think my students should be aware of, so I put together a packet for them.”
The 100-page book that came out of his early research was inspired by this work in the classroom.
Digmann makes it clear that he’s not involved in exorcisms. His book focuses mainly on church teaching and interviews with experts, including a priest who served as an exorcist. He feels the topic, although considered to be “on the fringe,” is relevant to a life of faith, particularly for men who might be interested in the concept of “spiritual warfare” as it is explained in Catholicism.
“What exorcists say is the best thing you can do to be protected against demonic activity is to be close to God, to be living a life of holiness, having a life of prayer, especially through receiving the sacraments, to be part of a religious community — all of those things.”
Digmann’s second talk of the day will be on apologetics. He plans to adapt a series of presentations he has made in various venues on why people should be Catholic.
“I will begin with a treatment of common Protestant theologies,” he said.
Digmann will then delve into arguments for Catholicism in light of these ideas, including the historical evidence in the Gospels, apostolic succession and the Eucharist.
The annual Catholic Men’s Conference began in the archdiocese in 1996. For more information or to register for the event, visit the Catholic Men’s Fellowship website at: catholicmenonline.org. For information on Digmann’s work, visit anthonydigmann.com.