By Hayden Ross
St Michael’s Men’s Group
There is no telling where we (men) have been, or how we have fared mentally or spiritually for the past three years; however, because of the stringent national policies in reaction to the pandemic, many of us feel physically restrained and isolated.
As men, we resent being restrained or even being told to do something – perhaps because of our history and cultural make-up; but that is for another time and discussion.
The National Catholic Men’s Movement (NCMM) embarked on a mission to find and rescue men; to meet and refocus all men who have been wandering aimlessly in the desert. Men were asked to pick up and dust themselves off and join with other men at the Suburban Vicariate’s event aptly named ‘Just for Men’.
We met October 14, 2022, at Fatima RC Parish Hall, Curepe, and could not help but be drawn to the gaze in awe at the gifted statue of Our Virgin Mother and to ask for her intercession over the session. Our numbers, while encouraging, were reduced as compared to similar events held prior to Covid-19. Whether this was indicative of us returning to our shells and comfort zones after the vibrant launch and clarion call by the NCMM two years before, or a new fear of leaving home after having been cooped up at home!
Whatever the reason, we should recall that even the disciples at Jesus’ crucifixion ran away in fear and hid, only to be re-energised and convicted when the Holy Spirit fell on them in the Upper Room. Would we find our catalyst and our enabling spirit here?
We opened with an animated prayer which covered many aspects given the perceived low enthusiasm of men’s ministries across the Archdiocese. We were called to reflect, and urgently return to prayer, lift up God, to help mend our brokenness.
We were treated to a spirited cry from the music ministry which tried hard to lead by example – ensuring that they set the correct tone, pace, and pitch through their time of praise and worship. Men sombrely listened as if initially shell-shocked, but slowly warmed and seemed to accept the task(s) as laid out by the NCMM Rep Deacon Lennox Toussaint who deliberately laid bare the dire situation of men’s ministry and putting into context the reason for being there.
While the tasks sounded all too familiar, we know that these can only be achieved through our commitment, prayer and with God’s grace. Through Him the impossible and improbable are achievable.
The reality was brought home by a reflection given by Deacon Sheldon Narine – serious and poignant topics which were scripturally grounded. Excuses why we have failed, excuses why we have not attended, why we always focus on the negative aspects; somehow depicting us as slowly returning to darkness, and without hope. Throughout his presentation, he would bring us back to the light, pushing each one of us to think, to believe and to see the way forward.
Then there were testimonies which we know are messages shared with the community or those within earshot to hear the stories of God’s working in real situations, conversion of all ‘doubting Thomas’.
Examples were given by a convert, by someone who joined the Church through the RCIA programme, and one born in the faith.
The stories showed similar challenges with each story telling where each person was convinced God was at work in their lives, in their environment, or in those persons with whom they lived, the most important being their recognition of the power and love of God allowing them to start the journey to find him in earnest.
As men, we understand and are mandated to be inclusive of all persons – while understanding that there must be a place where we are able to bond and express fellowship, allowing us to resolve issues to better emerge with a plan, a conviction, to drive forward in the battle for His Kingdom.
We are called to play a key role as servant leaders which requires God’s grace to show us how to adapt and adopt to help grow in communion, participation, and love, bending to His will.