Catholic men called to spiritual leadership in their families

By Ed Hopfner

Nearly 150 Catholic men from as far away as Modesto  packed into the Parish Center at St Mark’s Church in San Mateo for the 6th Annual Bay Area Catholic Men’s conference, “Called to Lead.”  The keynote speaker was the ever-popular Jesse Romero, who was joined by Father Sebastian Carnazzo of St Elias Melkite Catholic Church in San Jose, and Dr. Scott French, an Emergency Room specialist from Idaho. 

Jesse, speaking with courage and conviction, began the day with the reality of spiritual battle.  The devil attacks us primarily by ‘projecting,’ sending thoughts and temptations into our minds like arrows (cf Eph 6:16).  Our prayers act as a counter to that, like ‘arrows’ that attack the evil one.  Jesse then provided a reflection on  the mysteries of the rosary, the most powerful prayer we have outside of the Mass, and he shared his thoughts on the importance of confession—“100 times more powerful than exorcism.” Six priests were available for confessions for the men.

Father Sebastian, a Melkite priest, seminary professor, and father of seven children, spoke of the importance of fathers in the family.  Studies have shown a direct correlation between the “religiosity” of the father of a family and that of his children. If he is a weekly church-goer, his children likely will be as well, if he rarely goes, the same for his children.  Mothers also have an influence on their children’s expression of faith, but the studies show a direct influence between fathers and their children’s faith. He noted that children “spell love differently than adults – they spell it T-I-M-E.”  The best way to show love to your children is to spend time with them – in daily activities, chores, playtime, and prayer.

In his homily, Archbishop Cordileone taught that the role of the father was to both establish authority through discipline and correction, but also to forgive.  Too often in society we see the lack of one or the other. We see either lack of discipline, which leads to anarchy, or lack of forgiveness, currently expressed as “cancel culture.” But both are necessary, and both are provided in God’s design through the father of the family.

Following lunch, Dr. Scott French presented modern scientific analysis of Eucharistic miracles, including some from this century (only 15 years ago).  In each case,  part of the consecrated host turned visibly into blood and cardiac tissue.  The blood was always type AB, and the tissue contained white blood cells, which are only found in cardiac tissue under great stress. The white blood cells, which can last only hours outside the body, remained as  living tissue, some after hundreds of years.  At least one sample under electron microscopy showed the cardiac muscle intertwined with the fibers of the consecrated host in a way that could not be explained or recreated, even with current technology, as if the host was visibly turning into flesh. Interestingly, the (male) DNA present in the samples has been unable to be sequenced.  Dr. French also presented evidence for the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin and near-death experiences that point to a life after death.

Jesse Romero rounded out the day with a call to the men to take spiritual leadership of their families – to bless their wives and children, and to bind demons; to pray the rosary and read Scripture daily, and go to monthly confession. Citing Ephesians 5, he spoke about the natural order of the family. The Church has said that “if the man is the head, the woman is the heart,” which demonstrates how the two sexes are designed to be complementary.

For those readers interested in the next Men’s Conference, it is scheduled to take place on March 15, 2025.

Ed Hopfner is the director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.