By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Catholic lay men in Australia are invited to consider a special program dedicated to inspiring them in their Christian faith and their role in the Church and the world.
The National Catholic Men’s Gathering 2020, an initiative of the Australian Bishops' Conference (ACBC) aims to “inspire and encourage men with a vision for personal discipleship, service and mission in the family, parish/diocese and the world," reads a statement on the event website.
The programme also hopes to “reinforce that it is important to gather as men in the faith environment of the Church and be challenged to ensure the Gospel is alive in our homes, parishes/dioceses and our communities.”
Due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, original plans for a national gathering have been modified in favor of smaller local events. There is also an online option of four video modules of approximately one hour in length available from 15 August.
The theme for the program is: “They were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other Apostles, 'Brothers – what then must we do?' ” (Acts 2:37).
Addressing the challenges of men
“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,” said Daniel Ang, Director of the Parish 2020 initiative for the Sydney Archdiocese.
“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,” Ang added.
Another important issue to be examined during the gathering is the isolation of men.
According to Life, Family and Marriage Officer, Chris Da Silva, the gathering challenges men "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."
“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," Da Silva said.
Parishes in Sydney set to participate
Speaking about the program, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP of the Archdiocese of Sydney encouraged men to register and attend as “we dive deep into the role of Catholic men for our world.” He also invited all Catholic men to consider gathering as a small group (following social distancing norms) within their “parish, men’s ministry group or friendship group.”
Gatherings will be held on August 15 in the Archdiocese of Sydney at the parishes in Bonnyrigg, Chatswood, Eastwood, Enfield, Menai, St Mary’s and Fairfield. Each gathering will include Mass, Eucharistic adoration and benediction, as well as group discussions after the video presentations.
Those interested in the free online program can register here.