Reinforcing faith

Christian men of the Peace Country gather for conference at St. Joseph’s

“Men without a purpose are like ships without a rudder.”

This central message pierced the hearts of the 77 Christian men gathered for the Peace River Region Men’s Conference on March 11th.

It’s an apt metaphor for Catholic men in the secular society of today, because a ship without a rudder is at the mercy of the tides of the sea – the ship will go along with whatever the surrounding waters decide for it. In turn, faith becomes the rudder by which we can steer and direct our ships independently of the influences of the surrounding tides. It brings to mind the Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton’s similar axiom, that: “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”

Pat DeLuca gave this metaphor during his opening talk at the Peace River Region Men’s Conference, held at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Grande Prairie. The day brought together Christian men young and old from across the Peace Country – from as far as Peace River, Girouxville, McLennan and Dawson Creek. The central talks and music of the conference were provided by Catholic men and Knights of Columbus of the Grande Prairie area.

Pat DeLuca gives the opening talk at the Peace River Region Men’s Conference.

The talks – rooted in Scripture, Church teaching, and the book The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren – called on attendees to seek out God’s purpose in their lives, and to do their part in reinvigorating their own faith and the faith life of their families and parishes.

The conference’s central purpose, said Dulca, is to reinvigorate the men of the Church, so that they will help grow their local parish, fill the pews, and find their life’s purpose and share it with others.

“Your purpose in life starts with what you do,” said Pat. “And you have to be willing to wear your heart on your sleeve and proclaim the Word.

“The Bible says it’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are looking for. God led you down your path to get you where you are today. He is the one who has chosen us for our purpose.”

This conference has been a long fermenting goal of DeLuca’s. During the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic and dealing with the recent loss of his mother, DeLuca happened to discover Rick Warren’s book in 2020, at a time when he was in need of guidance. For Pat the book soon became the foundation for a potential men’s conference, one that would call on men to rejuvenate the Church after the pandemic.

Kevin Walker

Now nearly three years later, with the help of Knights of Columbus council #3421 (Grande Prairie), he’s been able to bring his vision to fruition.

DeLuca summarized the conference’s purpose further by reiterating two questions from God we should prepare for at our life’s end: “What did you do with my son Jesus Christ?” and “In what manner did you accept Him as your Lord and Saviour?” These questions summarize the purpose of life for a Christian believer. He reminded participants that Cain’s punishment in Genesis was to be a restless wanderer of the earth, and we too face a similar fate when we lose sight of this higher purpose and instead let sin rule over our lives, which always paralyzes us with a debilitating guilt and a lack of direction.

This is why Lent is such a vital time for reorienting our lives away from sin and towards the end God calls us to.

“Noah was transformed in 40 days. Moses was transformed in 40 days on Mount Zion. David was transformed by challenging Goliath. Elijah was transformed by one meal. Jesus was empowered through his 40 days in the wilderness. Think what you do in 40 days,” DeLuca said, referencing the 40 days of Lenten penance.

The drive for discovering life’s purpose through faith was at the centre of every talk of the conference.

Daniel Jodoin

Daniel Jodoin reminded the gathered men that, in eternity, all that you will take with you is your character. Thus the driving force of Daniel’s talk was the need to preserve good character – through self discipline, responsibility and being strong-willed in the face of life’s challenges.

Weak men are fodder for the malicious and easily taken advantage of,” he said. “Strong men are trained, disciplined; they aim for the good. They get involved and do what is right.

“Mass is also essential for a Catholic man to build character. In the Mass, he is entering heaven on earth.”

Kevin Walker understands intimately the importance of being strong-willed in the face of life’s greatest trials. He told of his own story battling cancer, at a time when his son was preparing for marriage. Kevin was worried he would not live to see this wedding, to enjoy his retirement years and his life as a grandfather. But through enduring and overcoming this battle with cancer, he achieved a new sense of spiritual maturity. In other words – he achieved holiness.

He told the men gathered there that this spiritual maturity is precisely what they all need to strive towards.

This is only an excerpt. Read the full story in the April 2023 edition of Northern Light