As I walked around the Cathedral of St. Paul at the annual archdiocesan men’s conference on Saturday, it was hard to ignore the large crowd of men gathered in the pews. In fact, I did not spot one empty spot, much less one empty pew. From front to back, from side to side, the Cathedral was jam packed.
I believe we can thank Father Bill Baer for that. He is doing a marvelous job as the chaplain of the new men’s apostolate, and the numbers show his success. He announced that 1,800 men came, which was 200 more than organizers had planned for.
A guy I went to grade school with, Kelly Scott of St. Charles Borromeo, came in after it started with his son, Luke. They looked high and low for a spot to sit, and apparently didn’t find one, as I saw them standing later on.
The big draw this year was featured speaker Matthew Kelly. According to his website, he was born in Sydney, Australia and began speaking and writing there in 1993. Since then, he has written 12 books and traveled to more than 50 countries to deliver a message centered on helping people become the best versions of themselves. Among his titles is a book on the Catholic faith entitled, “Rediscovering Catholicism.”
His talk was dynamic, and he both energized and challenged the men to be better Catholics and better versions of themselves. Be sure to watch next week’s edition of The Catholic Spirit for more on his talk and the conference.
For now, let me say that I found myself energized by Kelly. I have never heard him speak before, and only recently found out about his books. I walked away wanting to read at least one of them. For that, I can thank some of the guys I met who are huge Matthew Kelly fans. One of them owns all 12 books.
If anyone doubts that much is going on with men spiritually in our culture and our church, the men’s conference is proof that God is at work in the hearts and lives of men. I was very encouraged by what I saw. So, also, was Archbishop John Nienstedt, who celebrated Mass, gave a brief talk and delivered the final blessing at the end. I’m sure he is very pleased to see such a gathering of men at the Cathedral.
If Father Baer keeps this up – and I have every confidence he will – it’s only going to get better. The nice part for me is I get to document good news like this. And, meet lots of good men in the process.