Men learn importance of sowing seeds of grace

CHAPIN—”Building the Domestic Church” is a calling for Catholic men to grow in their faith, develop a closer relationship with Christ and strive to be better fathers, husbands and men. And the first place to an­swer the call is in the home.

That was the challenge put forth to nearly 400 men gathered at Our Lady of the Lake Church recently for the S.C. Catholic Men’s Conference.

“The only way we can really affect positive change is one family at a time, one domestic church at a time,” said Knights of Columbus State Dep­uty Mike Allen. “Take what you’ve learned here today; take it back to your families and use it wisely. Be a positive role model for the kids and be a leader in the domestic Church.”

The all-day event was one of fel­lowship and guest speakers, with a morning Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone.

Speaking on the topic “Seeds of Grace,” Gus Lloyd, host of the daily radio show “Seize The Day”, shared stories on the seeds in his life and encouraged the audience to become planters in the lives of others.

“We don’t know many times when those seeds are dropped in our lives,” Lloyd said. “Every time you receive a sacrament, that’s a seed of grace that’s planted in your life.”

Lloyd’s personal story took many twists and turns, from his days as a fallen-away Catholic seeking fame and fortune as a radio personality, to the near collapse of his marriage and the resurrection of his radio career after a 10-year hiatus.

But it was the day his daughter, who was 2½ years old at the time, nearly drowned in a neighbor’s swimming pool that the idea of “Seeds of Grace” began to take root.

“I made a bargain with God in that swimming pool that day,” Lloyd recalled. “I cried out to the Lord, and I said, ‘God, if you will give my daughter her life back, you can take my life.’ Little did I know that God had every intention of taking me up on that deal and that’s why I’m here today.”

Years of soul-searching and in­tense study of the Scriptures even­tually led Lloyd and his wife back to the Catholic Church. Today, he broadcasts his radio show from his home, is a frequent guest speaker in the field of Catholic Apologetics, and has a number of publications to his credit.

Meanwhile, Lloyd’s daughter suf­fered no ill effects from the accident and is now the mother of two chil­dren herself.

“I believe that a seed of grace is being planted today,” Lloyd said at the conference. “There will be many seeds of grace planted today as we join in brotherhood and get to know one another a little bit better. Those are seeds of grace that God is plant­ing into your life.”

The conference also received an extra bit of grace with the last-minute addition of guest speaker Matt Allner, founder of Leadership & Legacy, a Colorado-based leadership training ministry.

Conference organizers learned the night before the event that the sched­uled guest speaker was stranded in New York and would not be able to attend. A call was placed to Allner and on a moment’s notice, he agreed to come and speak.

“I knew what God wanted me to do,” Allner said. “That’s what I’m doing here today. I’m playing a role. I wasn’t the lead speaker coming into today, but I was called. And within three hours, I had a flight booked.”

Allner spent 17 years as a science teacher and was a NASA Astronaut finalist while work­ing as a research scientist. He founded his ministry amidst growing concerns for society, ranging from the erosion of the church and the family to a burgeon­ing teen suicide crisis.

Speaking on those issues and on the Consecration of Mary, Allner de­scribed how he received his calling after God spoke to him three years ago.

“I was in the wrong place and I al­ways learned to trust God, so I said, ‘OK, I’ll do [what you ask],’” Allner recalled.

His struggles at that time were complicated by personal issues, in­cluding several delays in relocating to a new home, but he and his family overcame them. Since 2015, his min­istry has grown steadily as a leading resource for leadership training.

“So often when we pray, we pray for things we want. We don’t pray for the things we need or what God knows we need,” Allner said. “Con­secration is very unselfish. Mary comes down to advocate for those she knows are in most need of those prayers.”

Through his ministry, Allner is an outspoken advocate for protecting children and the family structure, the Church and our country.

Allner said that the role of hus­band and father, and member of the Catholic Church, has to be balanced with the roles a man also serves by living in this country and society.

“As soon as we think that one of those areas doesn’t need our time and our attention, [or] our talents and some of our financial support, these areas suffer and they’re all going to be broken because they all protect our Church,” he said.

Miscellany/Chip Lupo: Matt Allner speaks to participants at the S.C. Catholic Men’s Conference held in Chapin on March 3.