It was a joyful task to ask Bishop Fred Henry for his support of the 20th annual God Squad Men’s Conference. To hear of his retirement left me with a sense of loss. However, it was with a truly heavy heart that I observed the media’s field day describing him and his actions over the years with words that did not fit who we know he is and what he has done for the Calgary Diocese.
I reflected on what a great leader Bishop Henry has been for Calgarians and the whole Catholic community. He truly was a shepherd and a father to us. What the media had maligned him for was what I loved him for. They just didn’t understand that he was protecting us with warnings that if we take a certain path, we are putting ourselves at risk. He was a warning sign to our society of hazards ahead, like a police officer giving out tickets for speeding to reduce traffic accidents and deaths. Even if you are upset with the officer, he may have just prevented an accident, and the other cars driving by also get the message to slow down.
Bishop Henry was a friend to the God Squad right from the beginning. Installed on March 19, 1998 (the feast of St. Joseph), he opened our first conference with a blessing on the following day, even though he had family in the car waiting for him to go out for dinner. Over the years, he celebrated masses and given talks and wrote letters of support for our conferences.
I remember after one conference our keynote speakers were amazed at how Bishop Henry had this large group of men enthralled with a story about a toad! He truly is a gifted communicator. I cannot help but think of the correlation between he and St. Joseph, who also protected his family, day in and day out, without thought for himself. I believe that, like St. Joseph, he did the will of the Lord with humility and grace.
This year’s conference theme is a simple celebration of our 20th Annual Men’s Conference under the patronage of St. Joseph. Please help us celebrate this milestone by sharing your past stories of how the conference has made a difference in your life and by bringing someone new with you. Email stories or pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org. Go to godsquad.ca to register, see ad on page 19 or come to the door on March 17/18. All men ages 14 years and up are invited.