FORT MILL—Becoming a better Catholic man involves a simple change of direction away from sin and the secular world and toward Christ.
Hundreds heard that message at the second annual South Carolina Catholic Men’s Conference held March 7 at St. Philip Neri Church in Fort Mill. The event was sponsored by the South Carolina State Council of the Knights of Columbus with support from the Diocese of Charleston.
Men of all ages listened to two priests and a former football coach who laid out effective guidelines for incorporating God into every facet of their lives.
The day also included time for worship and prayer, with Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament led by Father Gregory Wilson, and the chance to go to confession.
Franciscan Father Paul M. Williams talked about St. Joseph and how he sets a good example for today’s men of faith. Father Williams served as pastor at three parishes in his 26 years in South Carolina before being sent to his current assignment as pastor of St. Joseph Church in Wilmington, Del.
Father Williams said Joseph “must have been awesome…a man of prayer, a man of dignity” because he was chosen by God to protect Mary and Jesus.
“He was chosen to protect and provide for the Holy Family, and you, men of the world who have chosen to marry and have children, you are their provider and protector,” he said. “You are to be their St. Joseph. You and I are called, like him, to be humble men who embrace humility. This world is a valley of tears and the only way it’s going to change is if you and I preach the Gospel through our way of living.”
Father Williams urged the men to commit themselves to being better spouses and fathers, and rely on God to help them overcome sin, especially the temptation of pornography.
Father James Farfaglia, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Corpus Christ, Tex., has gained a reputation nationwide for his no-nonsense, frank approach to guiding the faithful to greater holiness, especially through books such as “Get Serious: A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics.”
Farfaglia told the men a lot what is wrong with today’s culture and today’s Catholics on an epidemic of mediocrity, which allows people to get by with doing just the bare minimum, whether at work, home or in the pews.
“I tell people if you just want to come in to church and sit in the pew and drool on Sundays and go home, I’m not the priest for you,” Farfaglia said. “I tell people we need to be evangelical Catholics on fire for the Lord. Simply attending Sunday Mass is not going to cut it. If you are not convinced of the Gospel, you will not survive and the Church will not survive…the narrow road of the Gospel is difficult to live, but living the Gospel is the only road to salvation.”
He said men can avoid sliding into spiritual mediocrity by developing a strong spiritual life governed by the same kind of professional discipline they might use at their jobs.
“Be a man of prayer, take holiness seriously and make serious use of the sacrament of confession,” he said. “Only by being disciples on fire for Christ will you truly be able to live in peace.”
Joseph Hyland, a former pro football player in Europe and coach at Eastern Michigan University, recommitted himself to his faith after his athletic career ended and became a Christian counselor. He is a coach at St. Joseph Catholic School in Greenville and runs Kolbe Counseling, which focuses especially on men and families dealing with sexual addictions, including pornography.
Hyland said many men don’t commit themselves to true Catholic living because they think they are not strong enough or “too far gone to get help” from God. He used the example of the prodigal son from the day’s Gospel reading as a reminder that nobody is ever out of reach of God’s love and forgiveness.
He said the secular culture leads too many people to believe they can take a “minimalist’ approach to faith.
“We’re afraid of being great, afraid of our destiny, afraid of getting in touch with how God really made us,” he said. “We’ve stepped off the lap of God our Father and like the prodigal son we’re not listening to His voice anymore…we need to go before God and beg for His grace.”