2017 Annual Men’s Conference

2017 Annual Men’s Conference

 

Our annual Men’s Conference this year is March 17-18th

Conference Schedule

 

An invite from God Squad's Chaplain, Fr. Jonathan Gibson

 

 

Featured Speakers at this year’s conference:

Steve Wood

Steve Wood has led youth, campus, and pro-life ministries. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, he served as an Evangelical pastor for a decade before his entire family converted to Catholicism in 1990. Responding to a challenge from Pope John Paul II to strengthen families, he started the Family Life Center International in 1992. Over the past fifteen years, the Family Life Center has networked with thousands of families in over 68 countries.Steve is also the founder of St. Joseph’s Covenant Keepers, a movement that seeks to transform society through the transformation of fathers and families. Utilizing his books Christian Fatherhood & Legacy, CDs, television, radio, and conferences, Steve has reached tens of thousands of men in the USA, Canada and overseas with a message of Christian faith and responsibility. He is the host of the live Faith and Family broadcasts on EWTN worldwide radio, as well as the host of The Carpenter Shop, a show for men on EWTN television.Steve has also written two books: The ABCs of Choosing a Good Husband and The ABCs of Choosing a Good Wife to assist young adults in choosing a lifetime partner and preparing for marriage.Steve and Karen Wood have been married twenty-nine years and are the parents of eight children.

Damon Owens, international speaker and evangelist, is the founder and executive director of Joy To Be (joyTOB.org) a new 501(c)(3) non-profit ministry of Stewardship: A Mission of Faith centered on St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Following four-years as the first executive director of the Theology of the Body Institute, he served as Chairman of the 2016 International Theology of the Body Congress. He previously founded Joy-Filled Marriage New Jersey, and New Jersey Natural Family Planning Association, non-profit organizations dedicated to building a marriage culture through training, seminars, and conferences. Damon and his wife Melanie taught Natural Family Planning (NFP) for 14 years, and served as NFP Coordinators for the Archdiocese of Newark (NJ).
A Certified Speaker for the Theology of the Body Institute, National Trainer for Ascension Press, and presenter at the 2015 World Meeting of Families, Damon keeps a full international speaking schedule at conferences, marriage seminars, universities, high schools, seminaries, and parishes on the good news of marriage, sexuality, Theology of the Body, Theology of the Family, adoption, and NFP. Damon currently lives outside Philadelphia with his wife Melanie and their eight children.

 

Jon Courchene

Jon Courchene is originally from Lanigan, Saskatchewan. After graduation Jon spent four years doing various types of youth ministry, including two years as a Deanery Youth Ministries Coordinator in the Diocese of Prince Albert. With a renewed desire for retreat ministry, Jon joined FacetoFace Ministries in 2007. After completing a Bachelors degree in Social Work, Jon began working full time with FacetoFace. He is now the Executive Director and co-leads the FacetoFace School Retreats.

 

March 17th and 18th, 2017 at St. Mary's Cathedral, Calgary, AB.

Doors open at 6pm on Friday, 7:30am on Saturday.

Special Student rates. Priests and Deacon’s may attend at no cost!

Financial assistance is available – please contact us

 

HOLY OF HOLIES

HOLY OF HOLIES

ChurchI was praying at the Adoration chapel within St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, taking in the wonder of being present there. I was trying to make sense of all I have seen and learned in the last 2 weeks in Israel. It has been rather overwhelming. We traveled up and down the country of Israel walking where Jesus and the generations before him walked.

We made our way to Jerusalem where every Jew would go to the temple to present a sacrifice. The temple housed the Holy of Holies (the Ark of The Covenant), where the High Priest could only enter once a year. He would have to purify himself to enter the Holy of Holies for fear of death upon entering without doing so.

WesternWallHere we were visiting almost 2000 years after the temple was destroyed and the Ark was taken out a century before that. You can go today and see people praying at the wall that is as close as a Jew can get to where the Holy of Holies was. If you follow the tunnel system you will find women praying in a spot that is considered the closest a Jew can get to where the Holy of Holies was (Muslims control the Temple Mount).

There are thousands of prayers daily with many written and inserted into cracks on the wall. These prayers are collected up and buried in the Jewish cemetery as a communication between you and God.

Jesus changed all this with his becoming man and dying for us. He has made it possible for anyone to approach him in the tabernacles of the world. From the grand Basilicas to the small simple chapels we can approach God, He is truly present. We can receive Him body, blood, soul and divinity at Mass. Looking at the Western Wall, my wife Michele commented “its just a rock”. We have Jesus!.

In closing you don’t need to travel the world to find God. He is at your local parish waiting for you. You can enter the Holy of Holies without the fear of death. You can go and be with God!

Keeping The Faith

Sean Lynn

St Joseph – Humility for the ages

St Joseph – Humility for the ages
Mark-Weibe-and-Sean-Lynn

Mark Wiebe and Sean Lynn in front of the side altar dedicated to St Joseph in St Peter’s Basilica

Michele and I have been on the pilgrimage of a life time. We went to to the Holy land with Jeff Cavins and his wife, Emily. There were 180 pilgrims, 23 from Canada. We visited so many of the holy

sites, that it may take months to comprehend it all. We decided to add Rome to our itinerary on our way home.

Many of you know that I have a great devotion to St Joseph and have relied heavily on his intersession over the years. I just did another novena before Christmas asking him for assistance in finding a speaker for the 2015 God Squad conference and completing our house renovations. He has never failed to help my family including making the pilgrimage a reality.

During our time in the Holy Land I saw a simple church dedicated to St. Joseph next to the Church of The Annunciation, which was massive. St Joseph’s humble workshop is housed in the basement of the little church. I inquired of our guides if there was a spot that is St Joseph’s resting place. There was not.

Then in Rome we toured the excavation under the Vatican to see St Peter’s bones which are located under the High Alter at St Peter’s Basilica. This led us into the Vatican Grotto where many of the popes are laid to rest. We then proceeded into St Peter’s Basilica where we were able to pray at the tombs of St Pope John Paul II and St Pope John XXIII. It was a little later in our visit that I located the side alter dedicated to St Joseph.

That was where the pilgrimage, and all I had done and seen, hit me hard. I had been on this trip due to St. Joseph’s intercession and there was very little recognition of him anywhere. He was so humble that his final resting place is not even recognized. I asked myself how this could happen? I struggle to imagine how it was that he didn’t brag about his boy – “Did you see how Jesus blew away the Rabbis in the Temple when he was 14?”

This was not him though. There is very little recognition of him and his role as the foster father of Jesus and the head of the holy family on earth, in the churches we visited. I found out that of the 66 basilicas in Rome one bears his name but it was only started in 1912. Pope Pius IX declared him Patron of the universal church. He wasn’t even included in the mass for the first 1900 years. Pope John XXIII added him to the canon of the mass and Pope Francis just added him to 3 of the eucharistic prayers.

Canadians are so privileged to have St Joseph as our Patron Saint (which could be why we are so polite). We have 2 basilicas dedicated to St Joseph, including St Joseph’s Oratory, which is the 3rd largest dome in the world. He is finally being recognized after 1900 years of sitting in the shadows.

I pray that I can begin to follow St Joseph closer, walking in humility.

LookingOutFromMtOfOlives

Looking from the Mt of Olives

 

Thank You St. Joseph!

Thank You St. Joseph!

StJosephIt was through the God Squad many years ago that I was first introduced to a novena to St. Joseph. Since then I have prayed it many times asking for his intersession for many prayer intentions. I’ve also joined in the novena preceding the conference for the last ten- fifteen years. This past spring we were trying to sell our rental house and we heard that you should bury a statue of St. Joseph on the property and then the house would sell. We felt like maybe that was too superstitious, so we decided to should pray a novena to St. Joseph asking his intersession and protection over the sale of this house. Over the past 2 years we had the house listed privately and had many close deals, but they always fell through. Now we had listed it with a relator. It was the last week of June that we had started the novena and by day 8 we had received an offer on the house. Very interesting, God is so good! We had decided then that we would just keep praying the novena until the sale was closed. We were very excited. Our sister in-law shared that her parents had been trying to sell their farm for over two years without luck. We told her that we would add them to the novena. A week later they had their first legitimate offer and it went through! With a few minor bumps in the road, our own deal finalized at the end of August. Another special intention popped up, so we decided to keep going! We continued the novena in thanksgiving for everything God had done so far and to pray for the new intentions. This is a case where it has gone far beyond the usual 9 days! I just wanted to share the power of prayer with a novena prayer to St. Joseph.

Conference 2015

As I was reflecting about this year’s God Squad Men’s Conference, I was thinking about how the conference has affected my life over the last 15 years. For one, it’s always a great renewal for me during Lent. It has helped me grow in my faith in so many ways. I started attending as one of the “young guys” and now I have an 11 year old son asking when he can start coming to the conference! Men come to this conference from all age groups and I always look forward to seeing the friends I have made over the years. I think I look forward to the fellowship with these guys as much as the talks. I am excited about this year’s topic “Create in me a clean Heart.” I think it is important for us as Catholic Men to continue to give our hearts to God, so that he can make them clean. Confession is always one of the highlights of my faith, but it gives me particular joy to see men lining up for hours to go to Reconciliation at the conference.

Evangelization Now

Evangelization Now

image-2image-2-e1394165581180In our world today, all Catholic men are called to spread the Word of God more than ever. Many of you already do this in different ways using your talents. With the social media of our time, news can spread like wildfire in a matter of seconds. We can use that to help spread the Word of God too! Many have found ways to do this through web sites, blogs, twitter and more. This should not undermine the importance of connecting with others one on one, speaking the Gospel message out loud with our mouths. In preparing for this year’s Men’s Conference, I feel called to share this message about spreading the Word. The theme of this year’s conference is, “Serve without Fear”. As I read Bishop Henry’s letter of support for the conference, he referred to JP II’s message “Be not afraid,” which I heard him say at WYD. I want to challenge those that I know not to be afraid of this opportunity. Come to this year’s conference and ask others to spread the word also.

My challenge to Men, who have been to the God Squad Men’s Conference in the past, is to invite someone new and bring them with you. Now this challenge has been laid out before and many of you have answered the call. I think we can do more! This is a chance to take up the Cross and follow Jesus, through the sacrifice of your time, to attend this conference, when you could be doing something else during the weekend.

What I am asking you to do before this conference is three simple things:

  • Pray
  • Invite Men
  • Pray for them. 

Find some time to pray for the conference starting now. Adoration, praying the Rosary, fasting – all things we can do to ask the Holy Spirit to stir the hearts of all those called to attend the conference this year. We can never underestimate the importance of prayer and what it can do for us and for others.
After you have prayed, make a list of two or three men that you think God may be calling you to bring to the conference. These can be men that you have asked before or men that have never been approached. If you have sons that are teens, invite them. Then after you have invited these men, make some time for them. Have them over for a meal and go for a beer to share about the conference and why you go. I know it can be difficult to find time away from family, but I know God will reward you for your work.

Keep praying for those you have invited. The Saint Joseph Novena starting on the 13th on March is a great way to conclude this offering before the conference.
Many of you do these things already. We need Catholic men to be leaders and in our world today. It is very important that we continue to help all Men in all age groups grow in their faith. Young men especially, need an example and opportunity to learn what it means to be Catholic men.

image-300x224This past summer at One Rock, I witnessed God working through a group of young Men.  Sean Lynn had asked if I could help keep an eye on the BBQ trailer over the weekend as he was busy with duties of being in charge of the whole program. I said ‘yes,’ though my wife was hesitant as we have 6 young children and my giving of this time would leave her to tend to the children alone. Well, Sean also asked Orion to be in charge of the food, but that was all. Several young men, most under the age of 18, all showed up and were a great help all weekend to Orion. They did all of the cooking and the work involved in serving the God Squad BBQ trailer. It was awesome to watch them take over the work, serve, and have fellowship together. I didn’t have to cook on

ekend with my family. Ever time I went to check in on the trailer, they were in great shape. This was a great witness to the

New Evangelization, with young men serving sausage to hundreds of other young people at a Catholic music festival.

Please invite the young men in your lives who are over the age of 14!image-1 

If you are one of our current Ambassadors and you have not been contacted yet or want to become an Ambassador, please email us and we will ensure you get the materials you need to promote the Men’s Conference in your parish. We have posters, post cards, and announcement materials for all parishes in Calgary and Southern Alberta.
I am looking forward to seeing many new faces at this year’s conference as well as seeing the many friendships I have built up with many of you over the years.

Wake Up Parents!

I say that in my loudest firm police voice!

It’s the day after Thanksgiving Day and I want to scream. I listened to the news about how a 12 year old girl in Florida committed suicide after being bullied on-line by two 12 and 14 year old girls. The 14 year old posted IDGAF when she learned of the girl’s death.

I picked up my son from school later that day and he talked about a survey they did in Religion class that day. He said that only 3% of the class attended mass regularly (I told him that meant he was the only one) and half the class didn’t even believe in God!

My question in both of these situations is, where are the parents? I must have missed the part in the 10 commandments where it says that you must have Facebook account! Why is a 12 year old girl getting bullied for a year on social media with neither set of parents figuring it out? It was allegedly over a boyfriend. Why are 12 year old girls even worried about boys? We have sexualized our kids way too young and adults encourage it as being so cute. I remember watching a dance show on TV where Paula Abdulla was asking a young boy and girl between the ages of 7 and 9 years old if they were a couple. Seriously!! If I could have grabbed her through the TV I would have given her my best Fr. Sean speech.

Then there are all the grade 10’s that don’t even believe in God, let alone attend Mass. They didn’t get to that point on their own. I understand that they may start questioning the faith at that age but to have the epic failure of faith? It took time to get there. Parents, why are your kids in the Catholic school system if you don’t pass on the faith to them? Teachers, how does a kid get through 9 years of religion class and not believe in God. We are failing these children because when they have troubles like the bullying listed above, they do not know that there is a loving God to turn to.

It is important that you lead by example by attending Mass regularly (it’s one of the precepts of the church). Give your children room to make the faith their own by attending solid Catholic youth events or camps. Talk to them by having family dinners at least 5 nights a week. On holidays attend historical churches and places. It is also ok to say no to Facebook, Twitter and cell phones. Get some good parental controls on your computer if you do allow them so you can monitor inappropriate conversations (some programs will notify you if certain words are used).

Most of all don’t give up the fight to be a good father or mother. It is easier to give in to the world pressures, to have the latest greatest thing. You will thank yourself later when you are not are trying to figure out what to do with the 20 something year old living in the basement playing Grand Theft Auto 5 (over a billion dollar in sales) for 15 hours a day. Start today by being that example that your kids desperately need.

They Shall Dream Dreams

moondockOn the 31 October 2012 I woke up at 0300 hrs. and found myself preaching to a faceless gray mass of people in a sort of evangelical Southern Baptist preacher type way. It was like I was a third party hearing myself preach and wondering why I could speak words that even made sense at that time of the morning since I’m one of those guys that you shouldn’t ask any questions too until after my morning coffee as their isn’t a lot of wattage happening until then. It was a very strange experience and after the preaching I fell asleep again. When I woke up I decided to would write down what I think I said to this faceless audience.

The discourse was very evangelical and powerful with a call to repentance and reconciliation with God. Jesus was gently knocking at the door of our hearts asking if He could come in to commune with us in an intimate relationship.

I spoke of the torments of hell where the damned gnash their teeth and curse God in the eternity of the everlasting fire while they cry out, “What did I do to deserve this punishment?” They argued that they had been mostly good-hearted.

Jesus replied, “When I was cold and hungry did you shelter and feed me? When I cried to you for mercy did you show mercy? When I was in prison or in the hospital did you visit me? When I cried out in silent screams of agony in the womb did you hear me, and save me from my murderers? Did you teach my little ones to love me and take them to my bride, the Church, for instruction? Did you read my love letters, the bible, and did you allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in your life? Did you ignore the promptings to live a pure and holy life?

They replied, “But Lord who can be pure and holy? It is impossible!”

Jesus looked with compassion and said, “With God all things are possible. I gave you the Church, my bride, to guide you in right living. I gave you the sacraments so you could be renewed daily in love of God, and your neighbor. I gave you the sacrament of Reconciliation so that you would know beyond a doubt that your sins are forgiven and you can be restored to right relationship to Us. I even gave you my body, blood, soul and divinity in the Blessed Eucharist so that I could dwell on your tongue, in your body, and infuse your soul with my love so that you could begin to imitate me and my love for my people. I gave you written instructions for the path to heaven, and a road map in my bible and then asked the Holy Spirit to guide and console you on the journey home. I even assigned a special spiritual friend, your guardian angel, to guide and protect you from the wiles and snares of the devil, but you ignored his promptings and good advice.

Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and you defiled it by profaning what was sacred and driving Him from yourself because you allowed illicit and disordered desires and passions to rule. Who did you think convinced you that it was OK to live for the moment and cast all your teachings of the truth aside? Who did you think tempted you with sex outside sacramental marriage, greed for what you didn’t need, tempted you to pursue power, fame, and fortune when it would only lead to the dead ashes of remorse? Why did you not know that you were in a spiritual battle between good and evil and with every bad decision you joined the enemy of life in a closer embrace.

I kept calling you but you stopped up your ears with noise from your iPod’s and iPad’s, TV’s, computers, music, and fair weather friends. Finally you got to a place where you didn’t care about truth, goodness, and light. It was all about you, and what you could squeeze out of life, not realizing that your choice to ignore God would continue into eternity. You decided God wasn’t important and in the everlasting today of hell you will reap what you sow.

I tried to draw you back into my heart when you were faced with your own mortality when your parent died, and you almost returned, but hardened your heart. I’ve saved your life on the highway numerous times hoping you would recognize me as your savior, and you felt a tug, and then wrote it off as luck.  Every time I called you rationalized it away as unreasonable and fate. I have called, and you spit in my face. I have called, and you beat me with your contempt. I have called, and you dabbled in the occult and New Age practices in your search for peace and serenity. You could never see the reality that my grace and peace flow from a good conscience and out of love for Us and those that you were called to serve.

I came to earth to serve and not too be served and you were called to imitate me. Instead you have sought the easy way that has led to perdition. My narrow way has a cross that you had to carry to imitate me in my passion, and you refused.

Serenity and peace, that you found elusive, only flows from knowing you are loved both now and forever. The crosses and burdens of life would have been light if you had allowed me to carry them with you. In suffering for others we learn the greatest lesson of all; and that is to love with Our own heart and that of my mother, and your mother, Mary. If you had been willing to conform your will to mine you would have been freed to live out your calling, mission, and purpose like I did. If only you had cried out, “Father, forgive me my sins”  we would have rushed to embrace you, but you wouldn’t answer the call of love.

We desire that all our children come home to heaven, but we gave you free will and the right to say no.  Hell is your choice, not Ours.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
imageAs 2012 winds down with the beginning of Advent, it has been a very eventful year for the God Squad. As always we had another conference in March where we were blessed to have many of you in attendance. This year differed however as we have unveiled the new barbecue outreach ministry with a shiny new trailer. The men seemed to respond to the new ministry by consuming over four hundred Spolumbo’s sausages and 30 kg of beef on a bun! As a new ministry it is been a very busy first year. After the conference we cooked for 150 at risk youth for the Power Play Program at the Calgary Police Service. We then went on and did a beef dinner for 500 elders of the Mormon church and then fed 300 at one of our at risk high schools. We barbecued for all the youth that were incarcerated at the Calgary Young Offenders Center and then barbecued at the One Rock concert. We’ve also done barbecues for youth football teams, diocesan conferences, one wedding and also appeared at BBQ on the Bow.
Just recently I attended the opening of the new Calgary police service Chapel in which the statue of St. Michael donated by God squad Canada to Chief Hanson for his contribution at our 2011 conference, held a prominent place within the Chapel.
I want to thank all of you for the ongoing support of God Squad Canada as we try to reach and challenge men, especially young men in fulfilling the role God has given them. We will continue to need your  support going forward as we hope to do more true outreach. Please consider a year end donation to help us continue our work as we seem to have more money tied up in doing these events, not to mention deposits for speakers for our upcoming conference.
I pray that you and your family will have a blessed Christmas and New Year. May you seek the intercession of the holy family to protect and provide for you and your family.
Sean Lynn
President, God Squad Canada
P.S. Mark March 8 and 9th in your calendars for our annual conference which will be held at St. Peter’s Parish in Calgary. We are pleased to announce our speakers: Michael Coren, Joseph Hyland and Michael Chaisson.

Recognition

Recognition

recognitionI was recently at the 50th anniversary of St. Francis High School in Calgary. They have started a wall of distinction and inducted several individuals who’ve gone on to do great things as graduates from the high school. There were over 1200 people in attendance at the party and I’m guessing many of them were reflecting on their own accomplishments since they graduated, many wondering if people have noticed their contributions within society. At work many of us look for recognition to get promoted or move ahead, which often brings more recognition.
In my work where I assist and encourage youth who are at risk of falling into gangs, this is the issue that most of them are looking for; being part of something to be recognized. Then there are those looking for their 15 minutes of fame at whatever cost in our reality TV society. There is a strong desire be noticed built within us as we worship our sports stars and movie stars. How do we balance this with humility, which is one of the virtues that we attempt to model for our children and our young?
At a recent men’s study they asked if anybody knew who Chester Arthur was. For most reading this article I could also ask who Charles Tupper was. In the study they compared Chester Arthur to Louis Martin. All these men lived at the same time. Both Chester Arthur and Charles Tupper would be considered very successful in the secular world. Yet today the vast majority of us do not know who they are. Chester Arthur was the 21st president of the United States and Charles Tupper was the seventh Prime Minister of Canada. Louis Martin lived a humble and quiet life in the North of France as a husband and father whose youngest daughter went on to be known as “The Little Flower” (St. Therese of Liseux) and a doctor of the Church, one of only 33 in history. While Chester Arthur was considered successful in his time, his identity and life have been forgotten by the vast majority. Louis Martin, on the other hand, whose life was spent in obscurity, has recently been elevated to the honorable position of blessed by the Church and will be remembered for all time. The ultimate example and role model for us is our patron St. Joseph who is not quoted as saying anything in the Bible. He is only mentioned a few times but each time he did what he was asked by God. Patronage to St. Joseph only began in the middle ages. It is not until recent history where he is been truly recognized by the church and named patron of the universal church in 1870.
So I challenge you men, as you continue your daily lives striving to do God’s will to be an example of faith and charity, working in humility that may go unnoticed within the world. It is noticed by God our Father who is the one that we strive to ultimately be noticed by. These are the words that we wish to hear at the end of our time. “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’” Matt. 25