Diocesan News

Men ‘Take the Lead’ March 26 at Annual Conference

LINCOLN (SNR) - All men in the state are invited to enjoy a day of inspiring talks, good food and fun at the fifth annual Catholic men’s spiritual conference hosted by St. Joseph Parish in Lincoln.

"Take the Lead: Godly Families, Ungodly Times" begins at 9 a.m. and features speakers Steve Wood, Father Peter Casey and Blake Fosdick.

The agenda includes Mass celebrated by Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz and opportunities for adoration and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Lunch will be catered by Lincoln’s popular Valentino’s restaurant.

Matt Hecker, who coordinates the conference, wants other guys to know that this conference was created by laymen, for laymen.

"Church can bee seen as a ‘mushy’ thing," he admitted. "We want to get away from that."

Saint Joseph parishioner Chris Raun, who also helps with the conference, said it’s a place where guys can just be themselves as they get tips for living out their vocations as husband and fathers.

"These are times that call for men to be men and stand up to be the spiritual leader for their families," he said.

Mr. Raun and his wife Theresa have been raising their family of boys to keep their faith as a focal point.

"We try to make it as natural as we can around here," he said. "Our discussions around the home and around the table… We want them to feel like it’s normal [to be a man of faith]."

Steve Wood hosts Faith and Family Live broadcasts on EWTN radio and The Carpenter Shop, an EWTN television program for men.

He is a convert to the Catholic faith who served as an Evangelical protestant pastor for 10 years. In 1992, he responded to Pope John Paul II’s urging to strengthen families by starting the Family Life Center International, a source for faith-driven resources that are meant to deepen a family’s love and knowledge of their faith.

Mr. Wood is particularly interested in helping fathers fulfill their vocations as spiritual leaders of their families. His website, www.familylifecenter.net, offers many helpful suggestions for building marriages, parenting teenagers and more.

"He is really the national Catholic authority on family life," Mr. Hecker said. "He speaks in ways that men understand and relate to."

Father Peter Casey hails from County Caven, Ireland. A graduate of St. Patrick’s College – Maynooth Seminary, the Pontifical Irish College in Rome and the Pontifical Lateran University, Father Casey was ordained in 1971 and has spent much of his live ministering to fathers and families.

Each year, Father Casey leads an annual pilgrimage to Fanore in Ireland’s North County Clare. Families join him on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean for a focused time of prayer and reflection.

While in Lincoln to lead a parish retreat, he’s agreed to address the men’s conference about the spirituality of fatherhood.

"It’s easy to forget, but marriage is a vocation," Mr. Hecker noted. "Our job is what we do to make money, but our vocation is marriage."

FOCUS minister Blake Fosdick will address, "Technology and its Effect on Families."

Born and raised in Lincoln, Mr. Fosdick was not particularly active in his faith until a Bible study at his fraternity changed his life. He initially tried a few Protestant churches before returning to the Catholic Church in earnest.

Having ministered to college students for seven years, Mr. Fosdick also serves as director of technology for FOCUS Headquarters while he completes a master’s degree in information technology.

Mr. Fosdick will focus on the temptations of smart phones, internet, cable television and other technologies and how they compete with family time.

"We don’t have time to listen to the voice of God, because we’ve surrounded ourselves with noise," Mr. Raun said. "Technology has made that very easy to do."

The St. Joseph men’s fellowship is a loosely organized group that presents various events to encourage community and spiritual growth among men. There is a Bible study, sports leagues, community service opportunities, a quarterly breakfast featuring an interesting speaker, etc.

The annual conference is open to men of all parishes who wish to further their understanding of their roles as spiritual leaders in their homes, on the job, in their parishes and in the community at large.

Organizers intentionally plan the conference to give "regular guys" the opportunity to bolster their faith in a setting that they find appealing. Speakers are selected for their ability to inspire men and provide productive breakout sessions. Even the choice of caterer was based on a desire to serve the meal (and quantities) that men enjoy.

The pre-registration cost is $25 per adult, $40 for fathers and sons. Tickets at the door cost $5 more. This fee includes a buffet lunch and snacks catered by Valentino’s.

"We want this to be affordable," Mr. Raun said.

Men who would like to attend the conference can pre-register by contacting Ken Knaus at 432-3571 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or by completing an on-line form at www.stjosephlnk.org.

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