As Archbishop John Nienstedt looked out over the audience at the annual Archdiocesan Men’s Conference March 16 at the University of St. Thomas, he was humbled by what he saw — all 1,600 chairs filled and about 100 more men standing.
He was the final speaker in an action- and faith-packed morning, which kicked off with Mass at 8 a.m. and was followed by three speakers — Raymond de Souza, director of evangelization and apologetics for the Diocese of Winona, Glenn Caruso, head football coach at the University of St. Thomas, and the archbishop.
“It’s an exciting time to be a Catholic,” said Jim Lodoen of Holy Family in St. Louis Park, who was there with his newly-married son, John, and noted that the conference came just days after the election of Pope Francis. “It’s a real important time for the Church.”
By the time the archbishop walked up to the podium to give his remarks and final blessing, it was almost lunch time. But, by then, the men had been fed spiritually, and the archbishop gave them a final offering of inspiration and encouragement. He zeroed in on fatherhood and laid out a vision for what that looks like for men of faith.
“Being made in the image and likeness of God, we learn what it means to be a good earthly father by mirroring those attributes that we find in Jesus’ description of the heavenly Father,” the archbishop said. “These fatherly characteristics at their core are what anchors our masculinity, defining for us what it means to be a man. For whether we are biological fathers or not, we definitely become better men by striving to live those elements of fatherhood that we find in God. If God is Father, then it follows that fathers ought to be God-like.”
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