By Tony DeGol
Bas Rutten is a mix martial arts champion, kickboxer, and professional wrestler.
In other words, he is a muscle man or a tough guy.
He will be the first to tell you, however, that his real strength comes from God.
As a child, he faced many health challenges including severe eczema, rheumatic fever, and asthma.
“Kids spread from me, no one wanted to hang out with me,” recalled Rutten.
He was baptized and confirmed, but his family fell away from going to Mass and actively practicing the faith.
Later in life, Rutten entered the mixed martial arts scene and excelled. He eventually found his way into TV and movies, and that’s when he met the actor Kevin James, a devout Catholic who re-introduced Rutten to the joys of the faith.
“I got sucked in, and it changed my life,” said Rutten, who then began the journey of reacquainting himself with God and truly embracing the Catholic faith.
In celebration of the Year of Saint Joseph, Father Brian Warchola, Pastor of Holy Name Parish in Ebensburg, is sponsoring a Men’s Conference later this year.
Inspired by Rutten’s story, Father Warchola invited Rutten to be the featured speaker.
“I’ve known him from different movies, and I thought to myself there’s a tough guy, a guy who is physically one of the toughest guys walking the face of the earth, but he’s also a very devout Catholic – someone who tries to attend daily Mass as often as he can and receives the sacraments,” Father Warchola explained. “It was a few years ago he came back into the faith, and I wanted to celebrate that as well.”
The conference, open to all men 18 and older, will be held on September 11 at Holy Name Parish.
“That’s, of course, the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, so we’re going to also pray for those who died that day and pray for our service men and women,” Father added.
The Men’s Conference will include prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, the opportunity for Reconciliation, and, of course, uplifting messages from Rutten.
“When he was a kid, he was bullied, and that got him into martial arts training and got him to be very successful in the world, but also to understand that God was number one in his life,” stated Father Warchola.
“You have nothing to lose, but everything to gain,” assured Rutten of a relationship with the Lord.
Tickets for the Men’s Conference are $20 each and must be purchased in advance. Call Holy Name Parish at (814) 472-7244 for reservations or more information.