Tuesday, February 21, 2017

(185) Former POW in Vietnam Capt. Guy Gruters Featured Speaker at 2017 Steubenville Diocesan Men's Day of Renewal

Editor's Post Conference Note:  For a summary of Capt. Guy Gruters' talk and the 2017 Day of Renewal, go to

(132) Guy Gruters: Highlights of the 2017 Diocesan Men’s Day of Renewal


For the eighth consecutive year, the Diocese of Steubenville is sponsoring the Men's Day of Renewal on Saturday, March 18 from 9 am to 3:30 pm at St. Stephen’s Church in Caldwell off of I-77 Exit 25.  The patron of the Conference is St. Joseph, a model of a true man of God, to whose intercession we count upon for its success.

Prior to the official start of the conference there will be an optional half hour of prayer………specifically the Rosary and the Divine Chaplet at 8:30 am. 

The goal of the Men's Day of Renewal is to focus on the spiritual development of the men of our diocese. Having spiritually strong men of faith and character translates into more solid families, more dynamic parishes, and better communities. This is crucial to the Church and particularly our diocese, now and in the future. It is also critical for nurturing vocations.

          To complement the Mass presided by Bishop Monforton and Penance Service the featured speaker is Capt. Guy Gruters (USAF).  After graduation from the Air Force Academy with a B.S. in Engineering Science, Capt. Gruters flew more than 400 combat missions in Vietnam and received over 30 combat medals and awards.  He was shot down twice and captured the second time in 1967.  After leaving the Air Force, he captained DC-9s and Boeing 727s for Eastern Airlines until retiring in 1991.  Later Capt. Gruters was an account rep. for IBM and President of PC Software Systems.
In his morning talk Guy Gruters will reveal how his faith and trust in God carried him through the ordeal as a Prisoner of War in the notorious “Hanoi Hilton” and other camps for five years.  Since bitterness is self-destructing, he will share in the afternoon talk how he learned to show mercy and forgive his brutal captors who tortured him and deal with people in a business environment.  The participants will discover how they can apply mercy, forgiveness, faith, and trust to their daily lives as sources of strength in difficult times and a means to grow in holiness.  Capt. Gruters is a 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus.

 A Prison of War Camp in North Vietnam

Drawing from his diverse experience and being a father of seven children, he will also touch on “Leadership and Teamwork in the Family, Church, and the Community”.  An excellent and dynamic speaker, Mr. Gruters gives talks all over the country and is the author of the book, “Locked Up With God”.

          This background puts Capt. Gruters in a position to speak on the theme of this year’s Diocese of Steubenville Men’s Conference, “Mercy and Forgiveness, Faith and Trust……..Means of Developing Strength  and Holiness in Difficult Times".  That is through the power of faith rise up to be the spiritual leaders of their families, to do their part in renewing their parishes, be servant leaders in the community, and to make a difference for Christ by applying the social teachings of the Church to their professions.  

The fact, that travel time may be long and distance may be far for many, gives the conference a pilgrimage flavor.  Lent, of course, is all about sacrifice and spiritual growth.  Since St. Stephen Church in Caldwell is in the geographic center of our far flung diocese, the Steering Committee is hopeful that the men of Steubenville in the north and the men of Ironton and Chesapeake in the south will be able to participate.   Regardless of distance, this mini-pilgrimage is a Lenten sacrifice of early rising and a long trip with great fellowship in a van or bus as the men pray together, discuss the talks and other events of the Conference, and deepen friendships.  A bag lunch is provided. 

It should be a great day of enjoyable fellowship and spiritual invigoration. In each of the last seven years men returned reinvigorated, enthusiastic, and spiritually refreshed.  Expect the same this year.  It is awesome to hear the men lift up their voices in song and be moved by the beauty and power of the faith.  But mostly, through God’s grace, we will have more good spiritually strong men for the kingdom of God as well as for the battle against secularism and other evils that plague our society. We will have more men who put Christ into their professions. We will have men who will become more knowledgeable in their faith and better prepared for a joyful Easter and an eternal closeness to God.  The Men's Day of Renewal has grown into an annual event in our diocese, thus fulfilling a great need.

Promotional Help Needed.  Many if not most men will hardly notice the bulletin announcements, posters, and brochures, although they are indeed important and helpful.  What they can’t miss is the one-on-one personal selling by their peers, i.e., talking it up.  The most effective form of advertising or promotion is word of mouth.  Most effective is the witness of men who have gone to a previous Conference, especially the parish representative that we are asking the pastor to appoint or accept as a volunteer. 

Thus one or two men are urgently needed in each parish to assure the success of this event. To ease the burden on our pastors, we are depending upon our men to offer their assistance as parish representatives to mobilize the men with good one on one personal selling, register them, and organize van pools.  Word-of-mouth advertising is essential to maximize the promotion of the Men’s Day of Renewal throughout each parish. We ask participants of past years to tell their friends about this awesome opportunity for spiritual renewal.  If there is no parish representative in your parish, please consider volunteering by informing your pastor and by e-mail “Don Coen - Chair Diocesan Men's Day of Renewal” <donandmargcoen@yahoo.com>. 
Equally important, women can be most valuable in encouraging their husbands, sons (including teens), fathers, fiancés, etc., to attend. This is a very important part of the new evangelization.” 

Father and son can make this day an unforgettable shared experience in which they become closer to each other.  If the pastor accompanies the men, he would have an opportunity to know the men better and thus solidify the parish.  The Men’s Day of Renewal needs confessors.

 The local Knights of Columbus council can be most valuable since the spiritual formation of their men is part of their mission.  They are asked to mobilize their men to attend and organize a van pool.  Traveling together can build friendships, solidify the Council, and provide opportunities to tell about the Knights, thus making the Conference a recruiting tool.    .  

Each prospective parish representative is asked to make his availability and contact information known to the Chair of the Steering Committee, Don Coen at (740)264-0155, (740)632-1565, or donandmargcoen@yahoo.com.  Men may register individually or the parish representative may collect the registration forms with payment and send them as a package to Roger Huck; %Men’s Day of Renewal, P.O. Box 54; Beverly, OH 45715.  This would save considerable time waiting at the door.  Checks for the Registration cost of $25.00 per person are to be made payable to the Diocese of Steubenville with “Men's Day of Renewal” written on the memo line of the check.   

Transportation Needs. A carpool, vanpool, or bus saves on fuel costs and gives an opportunity for fellowship while traveling to and from the event—especially for those traveling greater distances. Please invite other men and assist with the organization of transportation for those attending in your parish.

Donations Needed. It is very expensive to put on a conference of this magnitude and feature nationally known  top speakers. While the Steering Committee does its best to minimize the cost for each participant, we are seeking donations from businesses, parish organizations, the Knights of Columbus, and individuals. Please send donations to Roger Huck as shown above. 

Ads in the Program Brochure.  Details on placing the ad for a business or community organization, or Knights of Columbus Council are in the Conference Blog or call Roger Huck at 740-984-2234 or 740-336-9128.
More information is available from your pastor, from Don Coen above, or Paul Sebastian at (740) 245-9404 or paulrsebastian@yahoo.com. The latter will provide the address to the Men's Conference Blog, which has a wealth of promotional materials for use at the parish level…….1) Overview & Poster, 2) Ad Form, 3) Press Releases, 4) Possible Bulletin Blurbs, 5) Pulpit Announcements, 6) Promotional Ideas, 7) Functions of the Parish Rep, 8) Sign-Up Sheet, 9) Sample Bulletin Insert, and 10) a Possible Talk By One of the Men after Mass.  There are also interesting articles on men’s spirituality, past conference highlights, etc.  After the Conference and throughout the year, articles will be added to help the men keep in good spiritual shape.  Clergy, Religious, and knowledgeable layman are invited to submit articles.

Please submit your registration as soon as possible. Registration will be accepted at the door; however, doing so in advance makes our planning more efficient and also helps to minimize waiting at the conference entrance.  

 Get you into good spiritual shape
 Have a great day of enjoyable fellowship and spiritual invigoration with fellow parishioners and participants at the conference, resulting in deeper friendships and parish cohesion
Develop ourselves as men of character and spiritual strength as we obtain the graces to cope with problems and conquer problematic issues that trouble our society
Be an effective spiritual leader to your family as a better husband and father
Prepare our hearts for the great feast of Easter as we become closer to God
Become more knowledgeable about our Catholic faith and grow in Christian maturity
Become a more effective soldier of Christ, and help strengthen His kingdom on earth

Visit http://diosteubmen.blogspot.com for additional resources to help promote the Men's Day of Renewal.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

(184) Lourdes, France: the Appearances of Our Lady as Described by St. Marie Bernadette Soubirous in Her Own Words

St. Bernadette after Mary’s appearance and message to her at age 14 in 1858. 

St. Bernadette died in 1879 at the age of 35.  You can see her body incorrupt in her convent chapel in Nevers in east central France along the Loire River.  When I visited the convent in 1962, a few hours drive from my army base in Orleans, I was awestruck.  It seemed as though she just died!  True, they did coat her face with a thin coat of wax since it got scratched while cleaning it.  See my blog #133 at paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com on Lourdes and the Mystery of the Value of Suffering. 
St. Bernadette's Own Account of the Apparitions of Our Lady

        “I had gone down one day with two other girls to the bank of the river Gave when suddenly I heard a kind of rustling sound. I turned my head toward the field by the side of the river, but the trees seemed quite still and the noise was evidently not from them. Then I looked up and caught sight of the cave where I saw a lady wearing a lovely white dress with a bright belt. On top of each of her feet was a pale yellow rose, the same color as her rosary beads.

        At this I rubbed my eyes, thinking I was seeing things, and I put my hands into the fold of my dress where my rosary was. I wanted to make the sign of the cross, but for the life of me I couldn’t manage it, and my hand just fell down. Then the lady made the sign of the cross herself, and at the second attempt I managed to do the same, though my hands were trembling.  Then I began to say the rosary while the lady let her beads clip through her fingers, without moving her lips. When I stopped saying the Hail Mary, she immediately vanished.

        I asked my two companions if they had noticed anything, but they said no. Of course, they wanted to know what I was doing, and I told them that I had seen a lady wearing a nice white dress, though I didn’t know who she was.  I told them not to say anything about it, and they said I was silly to have anything to do with it. I said they were wrong, and I came back next Sunday, feeling myself drawn to the place…

A close-up of the statue of Mary as she looked above the Grotto in Lourdes, France, where she appeared to the 14 year old St. Bernadette in 1858.  When asked her name, Mary replied: "Je suis l'Immaculée Conception" or in English, "I am the Immaculate Conception."

        The third time I went, the lady spoke to me and asked me to come every day for fifteen days. I said I would and then she said that she wanted me to tell the priests to build a chapel there. She also told me to drink from the stream.   I went to the Gave, the only stream I could see. Then she made me realize she was not speaking of the Gave, and she indicated a little trickle of water close by.   When I got to it I could only find a few drops, mostly mud. I cupped my hands to catch some liquid without success, and then I started to scrape the ground. I managed to find a few drops of water, but only at the fourth attempt was there sufficient for any kind of a drink.  The lady then vanished and I went back home.

        I went back each day for fifteen days, and each time, except one Monday and one Friday, the lady appeared and told me to look for a stream and wash in it and to see that the priests build a chapel there. I must also pray, she said, for the conversion of sinners.  I asked her many times what she meant by that, but she only smiled.  Finally, with outstretched arms and eyes looking up to heaven, she told me she was the Immaculate Conception

        During the fifteen days she told me three secrets, but I was not to speak about them to anyone, and so far I have not.” 

(From a letter by St. Bernadette in 1861, three years after the apparitions)

Quotes from St. Bernadette Soubirous

        “Mary sacrificed all to God; she needed Him alone. From this day forward, I shall follow her example: the Lord alone will be my portion. Why have I come here if not to love Our Lord with all my heart. As proof of my love for him, I must suffer and generously sacrifice everything to him, as Mary did. Courage, my soul, through prayer we can do all that is asked of us. The heart of Jesus is there: let us knock.”

        “O Jesus, teach me to understand the holy Jealousy of heavenly Love! Free me from earthly attachments and raise all my affections up to you. May my crucified heart be forever lost in your own and hidden away in the mysterious wound made by the spear.”

        “O Immaculate Mary! O glorious Saint Joseph! And you, Saint John, beloved disciple of the Divine Heart, teach me the great science of love! May it draw me powerfully! May I soar at last, may I take flight and hasten to lose myself, unite myself and disappear with you in the adorable heart of Jesus, and Jesus Crucified, the divine heart of Charity, purity, self-denial and perfect submission.”

        “I must die to myself continually and accept trials without complaining. I work, I suffer and I love with no other witness than His Heart. Anyone who is not prepared to suffer all for the Beloved and to do His will in all things is not worthy of the sweet name of Friend, for here below, Love without suffering does not exist.”

        “I shall spend every moment loving. One who loves does not notice her trials; or perhaps more accurately, she is able to love them.”

       “Why must we suffer? Because here below pure Love cannot exist without suffering. O Jesus, Jesus, I no longer feel my cross when I think of yours.”

Links of Possible Interest to Articles, Videos, and Photos

http://catholicexchange.com/gods-transforming-power-song-bernadette - Reflections on the classic 1943 Hollywood movie, “The Song of Bernadette”.  I saw it when I was 7 years old at Holy Trinity School. 

https://www.amazon.com/Holy-Life-Writings-Bernadette-Lourdes/dp/158617116X - Books on St. Bernadette, including her writings and the classic movie, “The Song of Bernadette” for as low as $1.46.

http://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/bernbody.htm - Research by Andre Ravier, S.J. on St. Bernadette’s incorrupt body.

http://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/BERNADET.htm - the historical story of the apparitions to St. Bernadette.

http://www.medjugorjeusa.org/lourdes.htm - Details of the 18 apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes.

http://www.bernadette-of-lourdes.co.uk/bernadette-of-lourdes.htm – “The Song of Bernadette” a biography with a photo of her parents.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lourdes_Medical_Bureau - Authenticated miracles at Lourdes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernadette_Soubirous - details on her story and life.