Men’s public witness to Christ

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Mass was celebrated by Bishop Richard Umbers. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Mass was celebrated by Bishop Richard Umbers. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

The 2022 Camino of St Joseph, an overnight pilgrimage for men traversing Sydney’s spiritual landscape, drew 150 brave souls seeking a spiritual challenge – up by around 100 from last year’s journey.

The pilgrims met at St Jerome’s Punchbowl for adoration, confession and Mass on Friday, April 29 and walked through the night, arriving at St Michael’s Meadowbank on Saturday morning for Mass and a BBQ breakfast at 6am.

The pilgrims passed through St Felix’s Bankstown, Immaculate Heart of Mary Sefton, St Peter Chanel Berala, St Joachim’s Lidcombe and Sydney Olympic Park, meeting priests for reflections and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

“Having him exposed in the Blessed Sacrament it really silenced the men … there was a real sense of peace and quietness.”

“Jesus was there waiting, accompanied by the Priests,” said Life, Marriage and Family team leader Steve Buhagiar, who inspired the creation of the Camino.

“Having him exposed in the Blessed Sacrament it really silenced the men: from the movement on the streets, the cars passing, moving into the Church, there was a real sense of peace and quietness.”

Mr Buhagiar said there was great camaraderie among the participants, many of whom were up for a challenge and were motivated by a sense of “spiritual curiosity” to navigate the city at night bearing processional banners with the images of Christ and Our Lady.

Sydney Catholic men walk through the night on their second annual Camino of St Joseph. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Sydney Catholic men walk through the night on their second annual Camino of St Joseph. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Fr Joseph Gedeon, parish priest of St Jerome’s Punchbowl, said he was struck by the men’s “reverence for the Eucharist”.

“We started with adoration and confession. Confession was going like wildfire and the reverence for the Eucharist – to see 150 men kneeling before the Eucharist is just mindblowing,” Fr Gedeon said.

St Jerome’s has become a hub for men’s ministry, with Monday night men’s Masses that grew from an informal get-together on Fr Gedeon’s day off to events sometimes attracting hundreds.

“Men, adults, young men, even older, they lack a sense of direction in their lives … They want to be in the faith but don’t know how to express themselves.”

He told The Catholic Weekly that his interest in men’s ministry stemmed from finding a common struggle among men of all walks of life.

“Men, adults, young men, even older, they lack a sense of direction in their lives. They can be fathers, they can be single men, but there’s no direction,” Fr Gedeon said.

“They want to be in the faith but don’t know how to express themselves.”

When preaching to men, he said he tells them “to go after the heart of the Father, and be like Jesus and the Father”.

At stops along the way men of all ages prayed, availed themselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and adored the greatest man present in the Eucharist. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
At stops along the way, men of all ages prayed, availed themselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and adored the greatest man present in the Eucharist. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Mr Buhagiar said the Camino was an experience of “challenge and excitement, which in the main a lot of the men are attracted to”.

“But they are exposed to the tenderness of Christ, especially in those moments where they are silent in the Church.”

By witnessing to Christ publicly, men’s ministry helps men to be courageous and lead, which translates to spiritual leadership at home.

“They are exposed to the tenderness of Christ, especially in those moments where they are silent in the Church.”

“It’s OK to be a father, to lead your family on the path of God,” Mr Buhagiar said, saying that Christian men lead in the model of Ephesians 5: to sacrifice their lives.

“To lead by being on their knees.”

The Maximus men’s ministry is run by the Life, Marriage and Family team at the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation.

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