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Men's and Women's Conferences will not be held in 2011

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BRAINTREE -- Organizers of the Boston Catholic Men's and Women's Conferences announced last month that the conferences would not be held in 2011. However, Scot Landry, one of the conferences' chief organizers, said he hopes the events will return in 2012.

Landry cited changing life situations of the members of the volunteer team running the conference and suggestions by pastors to move them to possibly every other year as factors in the decision.

"Many of our team members are in certain situations where they have been busier as their kids have gotten older," Landry said.

He also added that pastors have suggested moving them to every other year to make the conference experience more impactful. Landry said pastors have told him if people know the conference is an annual event it "lessens the urgency to go."

The men's conference began in 2005 and the women's conference was initiated one year later. In 2006, the men's conference, in its second year of existence, drew 5,200 people; that same year, in its first showing, the women's event drew 3,300.

Prior venues to accommodate such attendance have included the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and Boston College's Conte Forum.

However, earlier this year, both conferences were moved to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross after organizers anticipated the events would draw less than 2,000 people each.

"We have never really been a group that measures the success of the conferences by how many people come," he said. "It's based on the experience people have at the conference. "

"The conference is worth it if one person experiences a conversion," he added.

Landry said attendance may have been impacted by other parish and diocesan programs that foster spiritual renewal.

"We didn't necessarily take that as a bad sign if many people became involved in another program such as ARISE at their parish," Landry said.

"Hopefully, when we come back in the future, many of our core team members will be up for another year or more and we'll have more people who know personally the benefits of the conferences who will want to help promote it in the parish or help serve on the core leadership team," Landry said.

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