While research shows women still make up more than half of a congregation at any given Sunday Mass, in Sydney there are signs that lay men are increasingly fired up to grow and share their faith with others.
This month around 250 men joined the monthly Sydney Men’s Rosary Crusade in front of St Mary’s Cathedral, supported by the archdiocese’s Sydney Centre for Evangelisation and inspired by an international movement.
And now in its third year, the Arete Centre for Missionary Leadership reports a growing number of men year on year taking part in its flagship course, Foundations of Missionary Leadership.
Glenn McLachlan a parishioner at St Joseph’s in Oatley and the director of System Stewardship at Sydney Catholic Schools, is halfway through the year-long commitment and said he thinks it’s already improved personal and professional relationships in his life as well as his relationship with God.
“I haven’t asked my kids or my wife yet, but yeah I do think this experience is permeating my whole life,” he laughed. “I saw the course as an opportunity to learn more about what it means in terms of missionary discipleship and weave that into what we’re doing in Sydney Catholic Schools.
“At the parish level it provides motivation to create opportunities for further renewal efforts. Personally, the exposure it’s given me to a deeper understanding of the Scriptures has been amazing and the way in which the Holy Spirit is so active throughout this whole experience has been a revelation for me.”
Centre director Fr Chris Ryan MGL said it was exciting to have around 100 people come through the course in its first three years. “I think there’s a deep recognition of the need that we really do need leaders who are equipped with the theological awareness and the skills to evangelise and to really engage in the work of parishes, youth ministry and all the places were evangelisation is required,” he said.
“One of the things that seemed to come out of the Plenary Council was the very important role of women in the Church.
“But adult lay men in the Church are almost kind of a rare species, so to have them stepping up to exercise leadership in parishes and other communities is exciting because we need the model and witness of married men and other lay men so guys who aren’t called to priesthood can say ‘I want to serve as well’.
“To see them to come to us at different ages and from all works of life has been really encouraging and I hope to see that continue.”
The Arete Centre will host a virtual open night event with special guest Fr James Mallon, author of Divine Renovations on 1 September, who will speak on the topic “Unless the Lord builds the house in vain do the builders labour” (Psalm 127:1).
Register at www.aretecentre.org