Conference speaker: World needs ‘men of conscience’

| March 26, 2014 | 0 Comments
John Sprangers, left, a member of Transfiguration in Oakdale and John Bartunek, who attends North Heights Lutheran in Roseville, bow their heads for the blessing during the Mass at the Archdiocesan Men’s Conference March 22 at the University of St. Thomas.

John Sprangers, left, a member of Transfiguration in Oakdale and John Bartunek, who attends North Heights Lutheran in Roseville, bow their heads for the blessing during the Mass at the Archdiocesan Men’s Conference March 22 at the University of St. Thomas.

Near the end of the Archdiocesan Men’s Conference March 22, Father Bill Baer, the event’s emcee, invited boys 18 and under to come forward to the stage at the University of St. Thomas Field House to greet speaker Brian Bonin.

About 50 boys accepted and came up. Then, Father Baer addressed them and the older men in attendance.

“Our No. 1 goal is to pass along the Catholic faith to the next generation,” said Father Baer, pastor at Transfiguration in Oakdale. He then acknowledged the boys to the crowd of men, who erupted in applause.

Father Humberto Palomino, pastor of St. Mark in St. Paul, hears confession during the breakfast break.

Father Humberto Palomino, pastor of St. Mark in St. Paul, hears confession during the breakfast break.

The applause grew even louder when Father Baer introduced the event’s final speaker, Archbishop John Nienstedt, who is back in public ministry and expressed gladness to join the men for a morning of prayer and fellowship. He celebrated Mass, then addressed the men at the end of the conference.

“It’s nice to be back,” the archbishop said. “It’s a beautiful thing to see brothers come together.”

One of the boys who came forward was Anthony Gottwalt of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin in St. Paul, who attended the event with his father, David. He shook hands with Bonin, a former University of Minnesota and professional hockey player who came to describe how he rediscovered his Catholic faith.

Michael Christensen, a member of the Cathedral of St. Paul parish, takes notes during Douglas Bushman’s talk.

Michael Christensen, a member of the Cathedral of St. Paul parish, takes notes during Douglas Bushman’s talk.

“It was very good [to meet Bonin],” Anthony Gottwalt said. “He gave us a word: compassion. I really want to work on that because being compassionate is a very hard thing to do.”

Some 1,300 men and youth attended the conference, which had the theme, “Set a Steady Course.” It was sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Life. The keynote speaker was Douglas Bushman, who talked about setting a steady course in the Catholic faith. He said it happens through forming a strong conscience.

“We need to be men of conscience because that’s where Jesus wants to speak to us,” Bushman said. “Men of conscience are steady and stable in a culture that is anything but steady and stable. Only men of conscience can build a civilization of love, a culture of life.”

Brian Bonin greets youth 18 and under who were called forward at the Men’s Conference.

Brian Bonin, who is a member of St. Mary of the Lake in White Bear Lake, greets youth 18 and under who were called forward at the Men’s Conference.

Bushman’s talk left men contemplating how they can set a steady course in their spiritual lives.

“To set a steady course for my spiritual life, I need to take time every day to pray,” said Jim Lang of Sacred Heart in Robbinsdale. “I also am going to try to make an effort to get to daily Mass. And then, as a part of my spiritual life, just examine my conscience daily so I can grow in virtue, and I’m going to try and pick one particular virtue at a time to grow in.”

Said John Stute of St. John Vianney in South St. Paul: “I think that the best way that I can set a steady course is to spend time with my eucharistic Lord in adoration . . . I think Mass and adoration on a daily basis would go a long way to help me set a steady course.”

Douglas Bushman, who holds the Blessed Pope John Paul II Chair of Theology for the New Evangelization at the Augustine Institute in Denver, gave the keynote address about setting a steady course in the Catholic faith.

Douglas Bushman, who holds the Blessed Pope John Paul II Chair of Theology for the New Evangelization at the Augustine Institute in Denver, gave the keynote address about setting a steady course in the Catholic faith.

For men like Nick Navarro, the conference was a way to reconnect to their faith. It was his first men’s conference, and he came with his father, Ray. Both belong to Divine Mercy in Faribault.

“I didn’t really know what to expect, to be honest,” Nick said. “It’s been a while since I’ve attended something like this. There’s been some things in my own personal life where I’ve questioned faith. Coming to something like this has really refreshed and renewed that [faith] and excited me about it.”

Photos by Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit


Listen to participants talk about what they plan to do to “set a steady course” in their own faith lives.


 

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