A year ago I had the privilege of speaking to men of all ages at the “Man-Up Philly” 2014 conference. In the course of a great day of fellowship, I offered the following words:
“We men bear special responsibility … because the Gospel tasks us as leaders. The great saint of the Eastern Church, John Chrysostom, described every human father as the bishop of his family. All of you fathers here today are bishops. And every father shapes the soul of the next generation with his love — or the lack of it….
“In the end, renewal in the Church is the work of God. But he works through us. The privilege and the challenge belong to us. So we need to ask ourselves: What do I want my life to mean? If I claim to be a believing Catholic man, can I prove it with the patterns of my life? When do I pray? How often do I seek out the Sacrament of Penance? What am I doing for the poor? How am I serving the needy? Do I really know Jesus Christ? Who am I leading to the Church? How many young people have I asked to consider a vocation? How much time do I spend sharing about God with my wife, my children and my friends? How well and how often do I listen for God’s will in my own life?
“The Church has many good reasons why people should believe in God, believe in Jesus Christ and believe in the beauty and urgency of her own mission. But she has only one irrefutable argument for the truth of what she teaches – the personal example of her saints.”
Nothing has changed in the past 12 months, except that the world needs faithful Catholic men, men with a hunger to be saints, more urgently than ever. The role of a Catholic husband and father — a man who sacrifices his own desires, out of love, to serve the needs of his wife and children — adds a vital dimension to the home. Our priests are fathers, as well, in the lives they dedicate to the service of their people in parishes and ministries across the archdiocese.
As we ready ourselves for the World Meeting of Families in our city this September and the visit of Pope Francis, men need to step up and lead by the witness of their daily lives. They can grow immensely in their courage and spiritual maturity by coming together in prayer and friendship. That’s the purpose of the Saturday, March 7, “Man Up Philly” gathering. And this year’s theme is especially valuable: “Faith, Fatherhood, and Family.”
Conference speakers include Dr. Scott Hahn, the nationally popular author, speaker and Scripture scholar; Gus Lloyd, host of “Seize the Day” on Sirius XM’s The Catholic Channel; Devin Schadt, co-founder of the Fathers of St. Joseph, an apostolate that works for the renewal of authentic fatherhood; Jim Longon, a Steward of St. John Neumann and Trustee of the Papal Foundation; and Marie Joseph, executive director of the Legacy of Life Foundation, a prolife non-profit ministry, and author of Faith on Fire. Following the program, I’ll celebrate Mass with participants.
We can waste so much of our lives as men on worries and distractions that lead us away from real happiness. We need Jesus Christ, and we need the friendship of brothers in the Lord, to be the Gospel disciples and leaders God intends us to be. There’s no better place to pursue that friendship and renew our vocations as Christian men than “Man Up Philly” 2015. We need to make this conference a priority. I’ll see you there on March 7.
Men interested in “Man Up Philly” can register at the website.