2018 Men’s Conference

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M

A priest of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission, also known as the Vincentians, Bishop O’Connell grew up in Langhorne, Pa. He is one of four sons of the late June O’Connell, who passed away July 22, 2015, and the late Arthur J. O’Connell, who passed away Aug. 21, 2005. His brothers, Arthur Jr., Dennis and Daniel, all reside in the Philadelphia area.

The family were longtime members of Our Lady of Grace Parish, Penndel, Pa. He attended the parish grammar school, where he was taught by the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters. Knowing from an early age that he wished to pursue the priesthood, Bishop O’Connell attended the Vincentians’ St. Joseph Preparatory High School,
Princeton. He continued his Vincentian education in Niagara University, New York, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1978.

Bishop O’Connell prepared for the priesthood in Mary Immaculate Seminary, Northampton, Pa., where he received a master of divinity degree in 1981 and a master’s degree in moral theology in 1983.

On May 29, 1982, he was ordained a priest of the Congregation of the Mission in Mary Immaculate Seminary by Bishop Joseph McShea of the Diocese of Allentown.

On June 4, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI appointed then-Father O’Connell as Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton. He was ordained to the episcopacy by Bishop John M. Smith in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, on July 30, 2010. When Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Bishop Smith on Dec. 1, 2010, Bishop O’Connell automatically succeeded him as the 10th Bishop of Trenton.

Ralph Martin

Ralph Martin has been a leader in renewal movements in the Catholic Church for many years. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame, he did graduate work in philosophy at Princeton University and holds an MA in Theology from Sacred Heart School of Theology in the Archdiocese of  Detroit, a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) from the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology (STD) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (the “Angelicum”) in Rome. He worked for a number of years for the National Office of the Cursillo Movement and subsequently became a leader in the national and international development of the charismatic renewal movement in the Catholic Church. He was the founding editor of New Covenant Magazine, as well as the founding director of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office, currently located in Rome.

Currently, Ralph is president of Renewal Ministries, an organization devoted to Catholic renewal and evangelization. Ralph also hosts The Choices We Face, a widely viewed weekly Catholic television and radio program distributed throughout the world. Renewal Ministries is accountable in its work to a board of directors in the United States, for which Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis serves as episcopal advisor, and to a board in Canada, for which Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto serves as episcopal advisor. Renewal Ministries is also actively involved in assisting the Church in more than 30 different countries through leadership training, evangelistic conferences and retreats, and the publication and distribution of Catholic resources.

Ralph also is a professor and the Director of Graduate Theology Programs in the New Evangelization at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in the Archdiocese of Detroitand a visiting professor of theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He was named by Pope Benedict XVI as a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization and was also appointed as a “peritus” to the Synod on the New Evangelization in October of 2012.

Ralph is the author of a number of books, the most recent of which are The Urgency of the New Evangelization: Answering the Call, The Fulfillment of All Desire: A Guidebook for the Journey to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints, and Will Many Be Saved? What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization. He and his wife Anne have six children and sixteen grandchildren and reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Bob and Maureen Digan

Before the age of 15, Maureen Digan enjoyed a normal healthy life as an active teenager. Then suddenly, she was struck down with a slowly progressive but terminal disease called Lymphedema. It is a serious cancer which causes massive swelling of the limbs.

This painful disease is caused by a blockage which prevents fluid from draining and as the fluid builds up, the swelling continues. There’s no cure but it can be controlled with diligent care. Unfortunately, it does not respond to medication and does not go into remission.

During the next ten years, Maureen had about fifty operations and had lengthy confinements in hospital for up to a year at a time. Friends and relations suggested she should pray and put her trust in God. But Maureen could not understand why God had allowed her to get this disease in the first place and had lost her faith completely. Eventually the doctors decided that because of her deteriorating condition, it was necessary to amputate her leg. They then proceeded to set a date for the second operation of the other leg.

But, one evening while Maureen was in hospital, her husband Bob went to see a film called “Divine Mercy – No Escape”. After seeing this film on the life of Sr. Faustina, he became convinced of the healing powers through the intercession of a Saint. Bob persuaded Maureen and the doctors that she should go with him to the tomb of Sr. Faustina in Poland.

They arrived in Poland on 23rd March 1981 and Maureen went to confession for the first time since she was a young girl. At the tomb, then called the Shrine of Sr. Faustina, Maureen remembers saying in her own inimitable style, “O.K. Faustina I came a long way, now do something”.

In her heart she heard Sr. Faustina say “If you ask for my help, I will give it to you”. Maureen thought she was having a nervous breakdown. All of a sudden, the pain seemed to drain out of her body and her swollen leg which was due to be amputated shortly, went back to its normal size.

When she returned to the U.S.A. she was examined by five independent doctors who came to the conclusion that she was completely healed. They had no medical explanation for the sudden healing of this incurable disease. The accumulated evidence for this miracle was examined in consultation by five doctors appointed by the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Having passed this test, it was examined by a team of theologians, and finally by a team of cardinals and bishops.

The cure was accepted by all as a miracle caused by Sr. Faustina’s intercession to Divine Mercy. Sr. Faustina was beatified on 18th April 1993 and canonised in April 2000 by Pope John Paul II.

Gez Ford

Gez Ford (born in Manchester, England), is a 51-year-old Roman Catholic who has devoted himself to the new evangelization for the past 30 years.  During that time he has spoken to groups of young and old all over the world, from single digits to thousands, about the Good News of Christ’s love, the call to holiness and the need for daily conversion.

Gez studied theology and philosophy at the Victorian University of Manchester, the Franciscan University of Steubenville and at St. John Neuman in New York.  He has lived an eremitic and a coenobitic life.  A recovering alcoholic and drug addict, Gez is a co-founder of both the Tabor and Carmel Houses, created as residential living spaces with an emphasis on restoring dignity for men in recovery.

More recently, he has worked as a youth and young adult minister, and as a worship leader, for the parish of St. Raphael-Holy Angels in Hamilton, NJ, as well as with the Diocese of Trenton for its Annual Youth Conference.

A husband, father and grandfather, Gez is happiest when those around him are close to God.