There is a unique and powerful dynamic when men gather together for spiritual enrichment.
The 3rd Annual Men’s Conference for the Cluster of Chaguanas, Couva and Carapichaima took place March 10 at Presentation College, Chaguanas with this theme: Give the Lord permission in your life. Over 100 men gathered for spiritual food and did not leave disappointed!
Cluster moderator Fr Derek Anton opened the conference and gave the welcome urging them to “give the Lord permission in their lives” so that they become the catalyst for change in their families. This set the tone for the day’s proceedings as each talk and presentation challenged the men to raise the bar in becoming true men of God.
The first challenge, from presenter Allan Julien was for men to take responsibility for the widespread and deeply rooted “man/father crisis” in the home, church and society.
A key point made was the absence of men in the church has resulted in women being the majority of catechists. This has caused the faith to be communicated mostly in a feminine manner, thus lacking the masculine attraction for our young men; the result being the perception that church is “a woman thing” and boys just as their fathers, once they are confirmed, find “more manly” attractions on a weekend instead of attending Mass.
These 100 plus men were challenged to be “real” and admit if they were comfortable with their sons becoming them and their daughters marrying men like them. The statistics clearly show that most boys become like their father, and girls marry a man like their dad.
Fathers were encouraged to confront the reality of their relationships with their children and decide on that very day to make a new start at reconciliation and forgiveness. They were told that in order to save the next generation fathers had to commit to engage and connect with their children emotionally and spiritually. They had to become the spiritual heads of their homes through God’s grace and allow the Lord full permission in their lives.
Deacon Derek Walcott admitted to never speaking to so many men gathered in one place. He quickly pointed out that the only way to Heaven was by and through the cross and we all must pick up our cross daily and follow Jesus. He challenged the men gathered to surrender to God’s will, and light the fire in Trinidad and Tobago so that our families and nation could be one of peace.
Deacon Walcott’s message pointed to the fact that the only way we can have true fulfilment and happiness is to surrender to God’s will for us every day. Our day must start with prayer he said, acknowledging our Creator first before doing anything else; this will set the tone for our day.
Following Deacon Walcott, testimonies were given by Joel Joseph and Jason Jackman who were living examples of giving the Lord permission in their lives and the transformation it brought and continues to bring to them and their families.
Keith Patrick spoke of the reality of sin and how it affects a man’s life and the life of his entire family. He asked all present if they were reflecting the Lordship of Christ to their families in their daily lives.
He challenged men to become a saviour in their homes; to be the one who will go after the son or daughter who goes astray and bring them back home to a life in God.
This talk was filled with real-life examples of the daily things which needed repentance. Patrick ended quoting Psalm 95: ‘Today if you would listen to His voice, harden not your hearts’.
This energising day ended with the Eucharist. Mass was celebrated by Fr Anton and this mountain top experience came to its conclusion. The cluster continues the formation with an all-men Life in the Spirit seminar which began April 11. – Allan Julien, Conference committee