Take up your vocation, Bishop urges men

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Answering the call: Archdiocese of Sydney staff Chris Da Silva, John Gresser, Benjamin Conolly, Peter Rosengren and Michael Mendietta are all looking forward to the National Catholic Men’s Gathering. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP is inviting Catholic lay men in Sydney and around Australia to consider a special program dedicated to inspiring them to take up their unique place in the Church and the world.

The National Catholic Men’s Gathering is an initiative of the country’s bishops to encourage men as they serve in their homes, workplaces, and parish and other communities.

Due to pandemic restrictions original plans for one national gathering were swapped for smaller localised events and an online option of four hours of pre-recorded sessions available from 15 August.

A man stands with his three sons in their parish church. Within the context of rediscovering the universal vocation to holiness, Australia’s bishops want men to take up their unique vocations as husbands, fathers, sons and brothers for the benefit of not only the Church but wider society as well. Photo: Lisa Johnston, St Louis Review

Sydney parishes to participate

In Sydney gatherings will held on the same day at the parishes of Bonnyrigg, Chatswood, Eastwood, Enfield, Menai, St Mary’s and Fairfield.

Each will include an opportunity for Mass, Eucharistic adoration and benediction, and small group discussions after the video presentations.

Archbishop Fisher encouraged all to register and attend in person if possible, “as we dive deep into the role of Catholic men for our world”.

A father holds his daughter during Mass. The National Men’s Gathering will be held beginning 15 August. Photo: CNS, Brad Birkholz

Addressing the absence of men

Director of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation Daniel Ang said the event will address the relative absence of men from “so many areas of the Church’s life”.

“To be honest, the faith lives and experiences of lay men in the Church are not often a focus of our Catholic conversations or high on the agenda in many forums and discussions of which I’ve been a part,” Mr Ang said.

“It’s also an important conversation to be having because we are losing so many men to suicide and addiction which I think are symptoms of an interior and existential crisis that must make a claim on our faith as Catholics.

Father and son share and enjoy life. The Church has a propblem with absent men, yet me are critical to its future. The National Men’s gathering is a chance for men to recover their identity and vocation.

The isolation of men

“The damaging and all too often fatal consequences of the isolation of men in our society, isolation not only from God and local communities like the Church but also from one another, has widespread impacts upon women, children, whole families and our broader social fabric.”

Life, Family and Marriage Officer Chris Da Silva said it was sometimes “disheartening” to belong to the fastest contracting cohort in the Church, men aged under 45.

“At least for me I know that one of the reasons God has allowed it is to wake up – to challenge – men like me who do still love Jesus and His Church to take on leadership and responsibility in leading others to the truth, beauty and goodness of Catholicism,” he said.

A different world

“Perhaps in previous generations men could drift along without striving for a robust spiritual life or heroic virtue, and still get by as leaders in the Church and the world.
“That has changed. Now, with a world and a Church in chaos, drifting along is no longer an option.”

The theme for the gathering is taken from Luke’s Acts: “They were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other Apostles, Brothers – what then must we do?”

Four video modules will be posted online on August 15 with prayer, music, presentations and follow-up discussion included in each.

Men need to affirm each other in their faith, one of the ways to help build up the Church and families – hence the importance of the National Men’s Gathering.

An invitation from Archbishop Fisher

Archbishop Fisher invites all Catholic men to either view the program individually or considering gathering “as a small group within your parish, men’s ministry group or friendship group.”

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