Among the conference speakers was Rich Donnelly, a Steubenville native and one-time coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Donnelly described his vibrant Catholic childhood that included being an altar boy and holding pretend Masses with Italian bread. But, he later hid his faith, even going to great lengths to ensure his teammates didn't discover that he went to Mass during spring training.
He spoke of how his life was impacted by the death of his daughter, Amy, at the age of 17 from a brain tumor. (For chills, read this story about Amy's saying "The chicken runs at midnight.")
Donnelly recalled that he once refused to go outside and play ball with Amy while he was watching a game on television. Noting how that moment came back to haunt him the night of Amy's death, he urged the men to spend more time with their children.
I went to the conference's closing liturgy in the high school auditorium. It was the vigil Mass for the Fourth Sunday of Easter or "Good Shepherd Sunday." (This Sunday is also World Day of Prayer for Vocations.)
The Gospel proclaimed at Mass was a short passage from John Chapter 10 that includes these reassuring words of Jesus:
“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish."
For background and reflections on this Sunday's scripture readings, visit A Concord Pastor, Blue Eyed Ennis, Fran and Deacon Greg.
Flashbacks: Fourth Sundays of Easter 2009, 2008 and 2007.
The image above is "The Good Shepherd" or "Le Bon Pasteur" by James Tissot. It's from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum of Art.