It is with a heavy heart that I am writing this letter. We are busy preparing for the 20th annual God Squad conference and just had a meeting to make sure all was on track. One of my tasks was to contact Bishop Fred Henry only to hear the news on the way into work that he had resigned. The media had a field day describing him and his actions over the years with words that did not fit who he is and what he has done for the Calgary diocese.
I was reflecting on what a great leader Bishop Henry was for Calgarians and the Catholic community at large. He truly was a shepherd and a father to us. What the media had maligned him for was what I loved him for. They just didn’t understand what he was doing. He was protecting us with warnings that if we take a certain path we are putting ourselves at risk. He was a warning sign of hazard ahead like a police officer giving out ticket for speeding to reduce traffic accidents and deaths. You don’t like the officer but he may have prevented an accident, and all the other cars driving by get the message to slow down.
Bishop Henry was a friend to the God Squad right from the beginning. He was installed on March 19, 1998 (the feast of St. Joseph) and opened our first conference with a blessing the next day, eventhough he had family waiting in the car to go out for dinner. Over the years, he celebrated Masses and gave talks and wrote letters of support for our conferences.
I remember after one conference having dinner with two of our keynote speakers discussing Bishop Henry and both were amazed how he had all these men enthralled telling a story about a toad. He truly is a gifted communicator. As I reflect on St. Joseph, I cannot help but notice the correlation between him and Bishop Henry. St. Joseph, too, protected his family – day in and day out without thought for himself. I could go on and on listing all the great things Bishop Henry did for Calgary. I believe like St. Joseph he did the will of the Lord in humility and grace.
This year’s theme for our annual conference is simply celebrating our 20th annual conference under the patronage of St Joseph. It will take place March 17-18 at St. Mary’s Cathedral with keynote speakers Steve Wood (founder of St. Joseph’s Covenant Keepers) and Damon Owens (Joy To Be and former executive director of TOB institute). The youth talk will be given by Jon Courchene and music by Revra.
Please help us celebrate this milestone by sharing your past stories of how the conference has made a difference in your life and bringing someone new with you this year. (Email stories or pictures of past conferences to firstname.lastname@example.org)
May God bless you and your families!