Angela Kokott interviews Sean Lynn, President of God Squad Canada
Angela Kokott interviews Sean Lynn, President of God Squad Canada
It is interesting times that we find ourselves in, with a Canadian government that won’t allow money to be given to any Catholic charity that want to hire a summer student but won’t/can’t check the box to say they support abortion. We have a provincial government that attacked the Catholic School Board for even investigating the right to teach human sexuality from a Catholic perspective, accusing us of teaching that rape is okay. We have a new masculinities studies program at the U of C that seem to blame hetro-sexuality for the #MeToo problem. We have a Prime Minister that has a problem with the word “mankind”! These are are all very troubling problems that we must face and work to resolve. That being said it troubles me a great deal to see what’s going on inside our church. How many Sunday masses are there, where it is only women serving on the altar to assist the priest, to do the readings and girls the altar servers. Recently I have witnessed baptisms where there are no Godfathers present. The question I find myself asking is why? Is there no man in the lives of these families that stands out as a godly man, that they would like to ask to be the Godfather to their child. Are there no boys serving on the altar because they do not see any men serving within the church? Is there a shortage of priests because we have not encouraged our young men to discern and follow that path.
I remember a young women asking a question many years ago at our parish retreat.”Where are the Catholic Heros?” That was an excellent question which I took to heart. We know watching our kids grow up that they mimic what they see. Do our young men witness men being an active part of the church. How many are ready to step up and step out to be seen? There are places in the world where the men have died to practice their faith. Here where we have had the freedom to practice our faith openly for over a century. With this freedom we continue to take it for granted to the point where many have come to believe that it’s Mom’s job to deal with all matters pertaining to faith. We confused liberty, which is a painful and amazing ascent, with the liberties of unconstrained where we rush down without any hope.1
We need to begin teaching our young men virtues over values. Having good values is a fine thing, but the battle of morality is not so much about knowing what is right as it is doing what is right. The difference between wanting to do the good and actually doing it is tremendous.2
Fr. Jerome will be talking about this subject at this years conference; “WANTED: Men of Virtue Warring Against a Culture of ‘Values’” . Fr Raymond d’Souza will help us recognize where we stand today with his talk; “Living Time So That We Know When It Is Such As This”. Fr. Cristino will challenge our young men at the conference with his talk “What Were the ’90’s’?: Speaking Truth to a New Generation”.
You can start by assessing where God is calling you to serve in your home and your parish. I want to challenge you to consider getting screened to fulfill the requirements of the Diocese to work with the youth. I know its a pain to do but rarely is it easy to accomplish great things. It is going to take courage to step out and be seen. We will have an example this year of courage and strength as Fr Jonathan will share his conversion from the Anglican faith with his talk; “Entering the Barque of Peter for such a time as this” Men come and be challenged and nourished at this years conference to be the man God is calling you to be! Have the courage to invite someone that needs to hear the message!
To register go to https://godsquad.ca/
Financial assistance is available!
God Squad President
I had the honour and privilege to volunteer at the Relic Pilgrim of the incorrupt arm of St Francis Xavier at Saint Albert the Great Parish in Calgary, Alberta on January 21, 2018. Now you might think that by the title of this article that I am going to talk to you about the man of Saint Francis Xavier, or maybe the man behind coordinating ushers (or uber ushers as I like to call them) for the relic, God Squad’s very own Sean Lynn. No, I’m going to talk to you about the man who was literally standing behind the relic itself: Me, or more precisely, I’d like to share with you this powerful experience.
I have seen some relics in my life. Altars have relics. I’ve seen skulls, bones, and even the head of St John the Baptist in the Church of St Sylvester in Rome. As a cradle Catholic, I have come to see relics as a normal part of the culture and have come to take them somewhat for granted. This is not something that I am proud of. It emanates the stench of skepticism and apathy. The Council of Trent (Sess. XXV) teaches us that “the holy bodies of holy martyrs and of others now living with Christ [—whose bodies were the living members of Christ and ‘the temple of the Holy Spirit’ (I Cor 6:19) and who are by Him to be raised to eternal life and to be glorified] are to be venerated by the faithful, for through these [bodies] many benefits are bestowed by God on men.” The Church has long since had popular piety towards sacramentals such as the veneration of relics, pilgrimages, scapulars, rosaries and medals. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that sacramentals such as these are sacred signs that “prepare men (read mankind) to receive the fruit of the sacraments and sanctify different circumstances of life… Among the sacramentals, blessings occupy an important place. They include both praise of God for his works and gifts, and the Church’s intercession for men that they may be able to use God’s gifts according to the spirit of the Gospel.” (CCC 1677-1678)
After my experience standing behind the arm I found my soul singing: “Blessed are you, O Lord, merciful God, and blessed is your holy and honorable name. Blessed are you in all your works for ever!” For the great work of St Francis Xavier continues today, not only through the inspiration he gives the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), but through blessings and intercessory prayers he offers to those who come to him in prayer and in person such as in a time like this.
Many people came to see and pay homage to the relic. Close to 5,300 came on January 21st. I personally saw close to 3,000 of them. I had the perfect vantage point. I saw them all so clearly. They were literally at arm’s length. I was standing behind the relic. My mission was to count the pilgrims and ensure no kissing bandit would knock the relic over.
They all came, great and small, young and old, able bodied and infirmed. Most had filled in prayer cards; many had rosaries, handkerchiefs, medallions, crucifixes or some other religious artifact they wanted blessed by the saint. They’d approach, some with timidity, others with great piety. Others would stare like out of curiosity; especially the children. These were a joy. They displayed such wonder and awe. One such girl, about 10 years old, didn’t seem to get it. She was clearly incredulous. Her parents (I assume) told her to touch the glass that it would bless her. “How is this going to bless me?” she snorted with that pre-teen attitude and in all honesty as she left down the centre aisle. After a half a dozen steps, she stopped, turned around and took a picture with her cell phone. The look on her face made me think that she didn’t get it but that something was happening and that this arm was too weird not to take a picture of.
People want to touch the relic. “If only I can touch…” is the hope that lies in every Christian heart. (Mt 9:21) (Acts 19:11-12) Clearly people were moved by the Saint or by the Holy Spirit or both. Many had tears in their eyes, some were out right crying.
An old man was wheeled up in a wheelchair. The lines parted like the Red Sea. All had their eyes on him. He had only one good arm. He had brown eyes, full of hope and tears. The attendant awkwardly manoeuvered him so that he could get his good arm and his rosary close to the relic. He fought back tears and sobs but you could tell he received great joy in this once in a life time opportunity.
One lady I’ll never forget. She was about my age, give or take a couple of years. She had a number of articles she wanted to touch the relic with. But that’s not what was so extraordinary about this experience. She was crying and saying: “I will complete my mission, I will complete my mission.” The force and fervour of her prayer moved me and I sense the Holy Spirit move within His Church and act through this woman. This was a great consolation for me. I too, even in my older years, can still be moved by the Spirit to do His work: For no mission of the Holy Spirit is too big or too small, at any age; even if it’s simply to be an uber usher.
I want to thank the God Squad and in particular Sean Lynn for the opportunity to serve in the Kingdom of God in this way. It was a wonderful experience. I experienced a conversion of the soul; I saw missionaries rise up through this pilgrimage and I saw souls being touched in ways that I believe led to healing; including mine.
Yes, my soul is still singing out:
“Blessed are you, O Lord, merciful God,
and blessed is your holy and honorable name.
Blessed are you in all your works for ever!”
 University of Dayton, International Marian Research Institute, “All About Mary” https://udayton.edu/imri/mary/r/relics.php
 Catechism of the Catholic Church PART TWO: THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY; SECTION TWO: THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCH; CHAPTER FOUR: OTHER LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS; ARTICLE 1: SACRAMENTALS http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c4a1.htm
The God Squad would like to take the time to thank all of you for your prayers and support in 2017. It has been a busy year for us. It started off with the retirement of Bishop Henry which was a shock and a surprise. The Bishop has supported The God Squad from our very humble beginnings by opening our first conference.
We celebrated our 20th annual men’s conference in March where we were blessed to have Bishop McGrattan (our new Bishop) open the conference. It was an honour to have Steve Wood join us again as he did for the first conference, Steve stated ours was one of the “best men’s conferences in North America” as he was impressed by all the young men present. The reason they are there is because you bring them year in and year out!
It was another busy BBQ year for the God Squad outreach ministry. We did church anniversaries, high school retreats, youth jail stampede breakfast and several other similar events. The biggest of all was feeding 700+ for July 1st when Bishop McGrattan consecrated the Diocese to Our Lady.
We also sponsored another ride with Jeff Cavins; spreading the Good News to Montana, Idaho, BC, and Alberta. It was incredible talking to people wherever we stopped along the way. We are hoping to build on these stops by encouraging men to attend our annual conference and hosting mini conferences which we will live stream.
2018 is shaping up to be another busy year with our conference being confirmed for Mar 16 & 17th at St Peter’s parish. Our speakers will be Msgr Owen Keenan, Fr. Raymond DeSouza, Fr. Jerome Lavigne. Fr. Cristino Bouvette, the vocations director for the diocese, will speak to the youth, and Fr. Jonathan Gibson, an ordained parochial vicar, will share his conversion story. Registration is open now!
God Squad has also been asked to take the lead on being ushers for a historical event. The relic of St Francis Xavier will be visiting Calgary Jan 21 & 22nd, 2018 and we need some of you to assist with covering the shifts. Please sign up if you are able to assist https://www.volunteersignup.org/343EJ
Once again we would like to thank you and ask you to keep praying for us as we try to reach men and challenge them to be faithful husbands and fathers. This includes working with past speakers to develop a resource for young men to help them have the tools to transition to manhood.
Where are you going? What is the purpose of your visit?
Good questions to ask along the road of life. These were also the questions asked of the God Squad, on the border between the United States and Canada, as we each gave our passport to the border officer. All together in 8 days we covered 4,000 miles on our cycles. That’s a lot of time in the saddle, but a great opportunity to enter into the silence and more deeply into the questions . . . Where are you going? What is the purpose of your visit?
Most every evening we met up with the faithful in parishes to share a teaching and enjoy the company of other Catholic believers. Along the way we also met people across America and Canada who were still searching for answers to those very important questions in life. We met these new friends in gas stations, coffee shops, Harley Davidson dealerships, on a mountain, in the plains or on one afternoon in a juvenile prison.
Why would 25 or so incarcerated teens be interested in meeting with the God Squad? Good question. One word: BBQ. The God Squad seeks not only to feed the soul, but also to practically address the hunger of men and of each person we meet along the way. So the kids that came that day came with both their hunger and their innate curiosity. Surrounded by fence and barbed wire, we all ate BBQ together at the picnic tables set up for us. In our conversation, we became acquainted and even more to know each other. Listening, sadly I learned that most of the kids came from broken families. Some did not know who their parents were, many did not have fathers, and still others were seeking sobriety.
The BBQ opened up the conversation for us, but in listening more deeply, I wondered looking ahead and in this moment of meeting, how would we address the brokenness of the boys? How would we provide healing and begin to satisfy the deep hungers and thirst that we witnessed deep within them? As Jeff Cavins did in each of the towns and villages we visited, he offered a little drink of understanding to the youth . . . as we each did, sharing the message of Jesus.
One of the boys who expressed his despair in his struggle with sobriety said, “For me . . . I feel it’s too late.” Yet, knowing as I did that he had begun to walk and work a program of sobriety I had to say, “It’s never too late. It’s good to see that you have begun. Keep going with the others.” It’s true the young man did not know his father or his family. But in that moment, we were there as men and as fathers for him. And we were encouraging him, “It’s never too late. You have begun. Keep going.”
As on the border between two countries, it was good to be there in the prison with those youth. To be there at the border that led into young lives we had just met. Our only Passport in was Jesus . . . and a little (a lot) of BBQ. While I can not imagine the road ahead for each of them, I could picture the plains, the mountains and the challenges ahead. Despite the seeming impossibility, I was surprised by the feeling of hope I felt being with them. Perhaps it was the words of the Gospel that came to mind, “When I was in prison, you visited me.”
I know as does the God Squad, Jesus is true to His Promises. Jesus will be with them through the good and bad times, the sickness and health, the wealth of experience and poverty for we know Jesus and we know from our own experience that He is true to His Word.
Where are you going? What is the purpose of your visit?
Fr. Jim Perkl
Pastor—Mary, Mother of the Church
Many of you have heard that I work with youth who are at risk of falling into gangs.
The approach we take is called a strength-based approach where we focus on their strengths and build on them so young people can celebrate successes.
The old way was to work on weaknesses – “Hey Sean, you’re fat and you need to lose weight to be all you can be.” This method unfortunately doesn’t work as effectively and tends to have people quit in despair.
The reason I bring this topic up is because I watch good Catholics and Christians post stuff on social media that doesn’t help move the needle when it comes to helping our faith.
I will use one example from a website often shared – Lifesite News. Here is a recent headline. “Christians must not allow this man to lead Alberta’s new conservative party.” The article goes on to say Brian Jean won’t allow those who believe in traditional marriage in his party and don’t belong in any party.
The writer then challenges people to watch the TV interview (about gay pride) to prove his point. I watched the video and nowhere does Brian Jean say that. He says those who spread hate don’t belong in his party. What does the Catechism of the Catholic Church say about treating homosexuals? “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”(2358) I highly recommend watching a video done by Jason Evert which is what I see as a better approach. https://youtu.be/bLrRfwpvERU
It’s always easier to tear something down than it is to build it up. It takes me a couple of hours to tear out an old deck and days to build a new one.
What were some of Jesus’s last words on earth? “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation.”
We have a beautiful faith to share with the world! We need to meet people where they are at and walk with them sharing our love for Christ by reflecting that love toward those around us. There is plenty of media out there that distorts what the church teaches but we can change that perception by sharing the strength and beauty of the church.
So if you are wondering why God Squad is not sharing a lot of the negative stories about how bad this government is, or that group is, I would rather share posts about this saint did this with their life or encourage prayer and feast days of the church.
Please help God Squad Canada build up men and families with faith and encouragement!
Children need faith training beginning at a young age
I am coaching rugby at a high school in Calgary, and for the last two years we have not had a junior program at the school due to the lack of a teacher sponsor.
The problem of not running a junior program is that I don’t have enough boys coming up with the knowledge and experience of playing the game. This year more than half of my starters at the beginning of the season had never played before. Unfortunately that shows on the field even when they are trying their best.
They don’t know all the rules and fine points of the game and to try and teach them this in a matter of weeks is very difficult.
The future is bright, though, because we do have a junior team with a large number of boys who played at high levels prior to entering high school. It is showing on the scoreboard as well. Later this week they will be competing in the city championships.
I’m sure by now you are saying that's very nice, but don’t you normally write about faith? Yes, I do and I wanted to use this as an analogy of raising our children in the faith. You have heard parents say I will wait until they are old enough to choose for themselves. The problem with that is they will not be ready when it is game time. They will not have the understanding of the faith when pressed or challenged. In those critical moments when they need God the most, they won’t feel they know how to reach out to Him. Faith equals resiliency, which is in short supply among our youth today.
It is never too late to work with your child on learning and making the faith their own. I know in Canada millions of kids get sent to hockey and soccer camps to help them have a better shot of making the best team. Make sure you invest in authentic Catholic camps where your children will be challenged to make the faith their own.
My children have all loved Our Lady of Victory Camp on Gull Lake and Youth for Truth. I have heard great things about Arcatheos Boys' Camp and Captivenia Girls' Camp south of Calgary. If you are travelling for vacation explore the church and history of where you are going.
Where do you start? I started by teaching my rugby team a prayer that most did not know, the St Michael prayer, that we said before every game.
We would like to share with you all a letter we received from the Vatican from Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Pontifical Council for Laity, Family, and Life. Click to view the letter Here.
Thank you to all those to came out to this year's conference
The God Squad Team
In order to understand the importance of this year's God Squad conference and to look back at the impact that the conference has had on thousands of men, we asked some former speakers to share their experience of the Men's Conference.
Their responses are below:
My experience of the God Squad conference was something of a personal renewal for me. It was a great consolation to meet Sean and to spend time with men who are given entirely to discipleship to Jesus Christ – without reserve and with great courage! I left more committed to the mission of loving Christ and, frankly, willing to risk more for the Kingdom. May God continue to bless all of you and add to your numbers. We need the God Squad more than ever at this moment in history: A light for the Church and the world! Thank you for having me those many years ago.
Dr. Jonathan Reyes
Executive Director Department of Justice,
Peace, and Human Development USCCB
St Joseph, the patron saint of workers and fathers, is our recourse to an ideal mentor and saint for men! The God Squad conferences have blessed men and their families for over 20 years! I praise God that in some small way, I and Catholics Come Home could serve your wonderful apostolate in 2016. Remember to do your part in the New Evangelization by helping to spread the Good News of Jesus, and love someone to heaven!
TV Host Catholics Come Home
As men we need to be reminded just how important it is that we strive to be world-changers. Our faith in Christ compels us to bring mercy and healing to our broken world. I have been blessed to attend several God Squad conferences over the past two decades. I can think of no better way to spend your time then to gather with great Catholic men and encourage one another to live more boldly and more generously for Christ. And congratulations to the God Squad Conference on their 20th anniversary!!
Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS)–Founder
For the past 6 months I was going to send to you a story of my life and the past 20 years. Being part of the God Squad has inspired and has rooted so many blessings to me and provided direction into my life to serve the lord. This has then been extended to my 3 sons, a daughter, our extended families, my farm, my business and my commitment to serve others. I seem to speak at a number of functions every year and many of these are about our farm business, but at the end of the day it is all centered around how do we build strong Christian faith filled families.
Last year I missed the 2016 mens conference. I was speaking at a conference called Global Agriculture Summit in Iowa. It was a large gathering of Christian people who are teaching and inspiring others to build a better world. I believe that I would not have been able to do this with out the yearly direction the mens conference has given to me each year.
I was blessed to have God's pull in my life to be at the very first event along with my oldest son Greg. As the years went along all three of my sons followed and we attend as a family. Close family friends also come with many of these years, and we strengthened our commitments to each other. Unfortunately I missed two years but what a blessing to make the other 18 events.
For me, it is a great importunity to join many men who are striving to again build and live strong dedicated Christian lives. This weekend makes us commit more time out of a hectic life, to be on our knees in prayer and I am thankful of this blessing that I cherish. As a Christian man the vision of the God Squad 20 years ago has been more than I am able to thank anyone for. Thanks be to God!!
The God Squad members have been a great example to Calgary Catholic men and have not only put their faith into practice in their work lives but in every aspect of their lives. Their events have been of great help to my spiritual development and I strongly recommend them.
Deacon Paul Heffernan,
Holy Spirit Parish,
Diocese of Calgary.
God Squad Conference
March 17th and 18th, 2017
Location: St. Mary's Cathedral
Hi There! My name is Father Jonathan Gibson. I am the Chaplain for this year's God Squad conference to be held at St. Mary's cathedral March 17th and 18th.
This year, we are delighted that Calgary's new Bishop, William McGrattan, will be with us for the kick-off mass on the Friday evening.
Then through the rest of that evening and into Saturday we will have the opportunity through talks, and opportunities to talk with one another, to think about what it means to be men of courage and conviction in our day.
St. Paul said in Second Timothy, "God has not given us a Spirit of Timidity, but a Spirit of Power, of Love and of Self-Control."
Power, Love and Self-Control are three virtues that can help men to live courageously today. In a world where so many men shy away from lasting commitments and responsibilities. God Squad is a place where we want to encourage one-another to be men of integrity and men of commitment.
I would especially like to invite younger men to join us for this year's God Squad conference. Just as you need the right tools in order to do the right job, so too to grow in Godliness is not something that just "happens", but you need the right tools so that you can be equipped for the job at hand.
St. Joseph is our role model. He knew he had to be equipped with the skills and tools so as to lead the Holy Family.
Please join us for God Squad 2017, as together we are equipped with the Skills and Tools of Power, Love and Self-Control.
Fr. Jonathan Gibson,
God Squad Chaplain
20th Annual Men's Conference
St. Peter's Cathedral
March 17th and 18th