Men find faith, fellowship in parish groups

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OLOL_mens_club_super_bowl_party_063By Jennika Baines
Sun Assoc. Editor

Men’s groups in the Syracuse Diocese are as diverse as the men within them. Yet they all share one defining characteristic: the opportunity for men to come together in faith and fellowship.

The group at Our Lady of Lourdes in Utica is service-based. They serve meals at Hope House, help with parish dinners and deliver food to families in need during the holidays. “They’re primarily here to serve the needs of the parish,” said Larry Hagan, director of outreach ministry for the parish.

The group has about 55 members and meets monthly from September through May. There are also other service-based events when the men meet during the month.

But it’s not all service for this men’s group. On Super Bowl Sunday about 45 men showed up at the de Paul room of the parish’s Seton Center to watch the game, play cards and eat some traditional Super Bowl fare. Hagan said socializing is an important part of the group and helps to build a sense of community in the parish. The evening was also an opportunity to recruit men to attend the Ignite 2011 conference.

In March the group will help with a fund-raising pasta dinner. “The proceeds will go to whatever Father says,” Hagan said. In previous years, the money was used to buy a large oven and a large-screen TV for the common area in the parish.

But while the group at Our Lady of Lourdes is service-based, the men’s group at St. John’s Church in Liverpool focuses on fostering a personal relationship with God through reflection and prayer.

Len Gass helps to run the group. He said that men spend their lives working, taking care of the family, taking care of the house. “This is time for men to do for themselves,” Gass said. “Everybody needs a little time to spend with God to keep God in the center of their lives.”

The group meets every Saturday morning and considers readings and reflections that Gass e-mails to the members during the week. “It’s about asking how can I as a man of faith put these words in action in my life,” Gass said. Attendance isn’t mandatory, and members can speak up only when they feel like it.

The meeting is an opportunity to share experiences and learn from one another, Gass said. “We all have concerns. You have issues with your kids, issues with your spouse,” he said. “When I stumble and I fall, that’s when I find myself struggling the most to get things in order and feel good about myself. But when I put Jesus in the center of my life everything really does fall into place.”

The group has been such a success that it has helped to get similar groups up and running at St. Daniel in Syracuse, Holy Family in Fairmount and Immaculate Conception in Fayetteville. Gass said the men’s group is also helping a women’s group get started at St. John’s.

The men’s group at St. Augustine’s Parish in Baldwinsville has a similar focus on reflection. Deacon John Pedrotti said it offers a chance to connect with other men and learn from their experiences. There are themes to the meetings, such as “Faith in the workplace,” and facilitators help to foster a conversation among the men.

“We always try to have something set up for the guys, but they can go anywhere they want to go,” Deacon Pedrotti said.

The group averages about 20 members per meeting, and Deacon Pedrotti said this is due in large part to the willingness the members have to “sell it” in the parish through bulletin announcements and personal invitations.

“What it is ultimately doing is building community and building relationships. It encourages ownership of the parish,” Deacon Pedrotti said.

“It’s something I wish that each parish in the diocese would look at and try to form. In men’s day-to-day lives we just don’t get the chance to reserve time for ourselves and our spirituality,” he said. “And it’s just so valuable.”

Below are a list of Parish groups:

Holy Cross, DeWitt
Men’s group meets every other
Thursday at 7 a.m. at the church.
Contact gunner721@gmail.com
for more information.

Our Lady of Pompei
St. Peters, Syracuse
Holy Name Society meets once a month.  For information, contact
Peter Scalzo at the parish office
(315) 422-7163.

St. Augustine’s, Baldwinsville
Men’s Spirituality Group
First Saturday of the month between
October and June, 8:30 a.m.
to 10:30 a.m., Pastoral Center.
Contact Neil LaBrake at nlabrake@twcny.rr.com for more
information.

St. James, Johnson City
Men’s prayer group meets every
Saturday at 7:30 a.m.
For more information contact
Michael Washington at
(607) 427-5822 or
mwashing@stny.rr.com

Immaculate Conception, Fayetteville
Catholic Men’s Fellowship Group
Meets Saturdays from
7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
Call the Parish Office for information, (315) 637-9846.

Holy Rosary, Maine
Men’s Group, meets third Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Parish Hall.
Contact Matt Karp at (607) 760-2748
for information.

St. John’s, Liverpool
Men’s group meets every Saturday at
7 a.m. Contact Len Gass at
(315) 622-0736 for more information.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Utica
Meets first Saturday of the month with
8 a.m. Mass then breakfast. Contact Larry Hagan at (315) 724-3155 for more
information.

St. Daniel Church, Syracuse
Meets every Saturday after the 8 a.m. Mass in the religious education building.
Call (315) 454-4946 for more
information.

St. Stephen’s, Phoenix
Men’s group meets Saturday
morning at 8 a.m. in the parish hall.
Contact Ed Wilcox at (315) 668-2793 or call the parish office at (315)  695-4531 for more information.

St. James Church, Syracuse
Men’s group meets every other week on Saturday mornings from
7:30 am to 8:30 a.m.
Coordinators are Peter Tassini and Steve Kenyon. For more information, call the parish office at (315) 469-7789 or
visit www.stjamessyr.org.

Holy Family Church, Fairmount
Meets at 7 a.m. Saturdays every week in the church basement.
Call Robert Fangio for information, (315) 488-4022.

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