Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 15, 2010
Conference turnout reveals men trying to be better Catholics
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
SPRUCE GROVE - High attendance at a conference suggests that men are endeavouring to be better husbands, fathers and servants of God.
Known as Men of Integrity, the Catholic men's conference began about 10 years ago under Archbishop Thomas Collins. Previous conferences, hosted by Catholic Family Ministries, have been held at St. Theresa's Church in south Edmonton and in hotel conference rooms. This year, men from throughout the Edmonton Archdiocese gathered Feb. 5-6 in Spruce Grove/Stony Plain.
"We are blessed to use this beautiful church, Holy Trinity. Father Paul Terrio has been very gracious, and this is our second year here," explained Malcolm MacDonnell, financial director for the conference.
With men drawn to the conference for various reasons, the turnout was phenomenal, said MacDonnell. Well over 500 men attended the event.
Through the conference, his hope is that men will be strengthened in their vocations, be it marriage, the single life or the priesthood.
"We have been trying to discern whether we should be in the parishes or out in the public eye to show people that there are men interested in their faith, who want to live it and strengthen themselves as men, strengthen themselves as husbands and fathers.
"That's primarily what the whole ministry is about, trying to give men the tools to become stronger in their faith," he said.
Males of all ages attended, from junior high school students to grandfathers. At the conference with their fathers were youth as young as 12.
"We had some younger ones come in this case because of Father Mark Goring. He was with us two years ago at our Family Life Conference and we brought him back for the men's conference. There was this young man who would have been about 10 at the time, and he was really impressed with Father Goring and wanted to see him again," said MacDonnell.
During the coffee break between sessions and again at lunchtime, MacDonnell listened to the men talking around the tables about Goring's presentations. From what he overheard of their conversations, Goring's messages seemed to be getting through.
Donald Hawkins, from Edmonton, agreed that Goring impacted men with his talks on how to get one's name in the Book of Life and the ripple effects of virtue. Even with men's hectic lives, they found the time to attend the conference, and most of them seemed to do so without regret.
"Just seeing all of the men here at the conference, it's amazing. It proves that there are men of faith and they're not afraid to show their faith," said Hawkins.
"Men like to fish and watch sports and there's a thousand other things they could be doing right now. This is Super Bowl weekend, yet men are out for this today. It says something about how much it means to these guys."
Raymond Aceron, from Spruce Grove, said, "This is my home parish and I've never been to a conference like this before. I just thought it would be something new to try and see what it's all about."
He described Goring as a charismatic speaker who simplifies otherwise complex concepts. Listening to Goring helped him reestablish and better understand his faith.
"Challenging myself is the biggest thing, and not accepting who I am now. I know that I can do better if I strive for better things and I can accomplish better things if I use my faith to do that," said Aceron.
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