Diocesan men’s conference teaches men that God loves them unconditionally

by Paul Braun | New Earth

The younger generation was well represented at the conference. (Father Kyle Metzger | Diocese of Fargo)

Two-hundred-sixty men gathered at the Delta Hotel in Fargo on March 30, not to watch a sporting event or attend a sports game, but to gather as Catholic men and know that they are loved by God. This was a key objective of the Men’s Redeemed 2019 Made for Greatness Conference.

“The goal of the conference was to help men better understand their foundational identity as beloved sons of God and for them to realize that this is not something we accomplish or achieve,” said Brad Gray, Director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life at the Fargo Diocese and organizer of the conference. “We don’t need to be different to be loved by God; we are his, no matter what. Our sins, mistakes, and failures do not take away our dignity and our identity.”

The event was a chance for Catholic men, representing 50 parishes from across the diocese, to meet other men, renew old friendships, and discover more about themselves as Catholic men. Several men brought their sons, and there were plenty of college-age men from Newman Centers at North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota.

Keynote speaker Father Sean Kilcawley, Director of Family Life for the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., spoke of “their common woundedness as men,” according to diocesan Vocations Director Father Kyle Metzger, who attended the event. Father Metzger said that Father Kilcawley touched on “how men misunderstand their relationship with God. Men attempt to earn God’s love rather than simply recognize that he has always loved them as sons, and that there’s nothing to earn.”

Keynote Speaker Father Sean Kilcawley, Director of Family Life for the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., addresses those gathered at the Redeemed 2019 Made for Greatness Men’s conference. (Father Kyle Metzger | Diocese of Fargo)

When surveyed, attendees had the following responses as to what they took away from the conference:

• “I was inspired to be a better husband and father, and have told my wife ‘you’re a gift to me’ several times since the conference.”

• “I left the talk motivated to put down my phone whenever one of my kids wants my attention and to purposefully seek purity.”

• “I think more men need to hear the things presented.”

• “This conference was a real game changer for me, and exactly what I needed at this time in my life.”

When asked what the most valuable thing men took away from the conference, attendees said:

• “Being with like-minded men and hearing the words of encouragement from the speakers.”

• “Realizing that in all my sin I am a beloved son of God.”

• “I need not be ashamed of being a male.”

• “That I am a beloved son of God and that we, as men, have some work to do.”

• “I’m not alone in my thoughts and actions.”

• “That I can be better in my prayer life. I also took many tools to help be a better husband.”

Attendees were also given an opportunity to take part in the RISE 30 Day Men’s Challenge that began as a conference follow-up on April 8. RISE is an international movement created by Chris Stefanick, host of EWTN’s “Real Life Catholic,” and Bill Donaghy, a curriculum specialist at Theology of the Body Institute and another keynote speaker for the conference.

“RISE has been helping to transform the way men relate to God, their wives, their children, and the men around them,” said Brad Gray. “This is a way for men to bring the conference home and gather a group of men in their area to continue to go deeper. Seventy-five percent of those who attended the conference said they were either planning on or considering joining in the RISE Challenge.”

Gray added when one man was asked a week into the challenge if it was helping to revitalize his Lent, he responded, “It’s revitalizing my life!”