By Kaelanne Jordan, firstname.lastname@example.org
AN effort to get men involved in the life of the Church and create disciples for Christ in the 21st century, were the catalysts for seven Catholic men led by Deacons Lennox Toussaint and Derek Walcott to endorse the launch of a National Catholic Men’s Ministry.
The launch takes place Tuesday, March 19 (St Joseph’s Day) with Mass by Archbishop Jason Gordon at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain at 5 p.m.
In an interview with Catholic News, Leonard Birmingham, said that the team noticed that between 14 and 17 per cent of Catholics are currently practising their faith. Birmingham and his fellow members including Kyle Dardaine and Matthew Hall of the Companions of the Transfigured Christ (CTC); Episcopal Delegate for Evangelisation, Peter Timothy; and Allan Julien, a Chaguanas’ men’s ministry leader also observed that 70–80 per cent of practising Catholics are women.
“So, we are rallying men now to return to the practice of their faith and so that we can build family life; we can foster vocation to the priesthood; and we can join in the whole work of transforming the Church and the society,” Birmingham said via phone.
Thus far, the team has reached out to men across the Archdiocese from Cedros to Toco, Manzanilla, Mayaro, north Port of Spain, Central and “the response has been tremendous”. Birmingham said the plan is to evangelise and catechise men through get-togethers on a “regular basis”.
“We’re going to have centres of activity in each vicariate so that men can get together with their sons and other men for Christian fellowship, for indoor and outdoor sporting activity, for supporting current Church ministries [such as] the Society of St Vincent de Paul and prison ministry.”
Commenting on the importance of men involved in prison ministry, Birmingham said that the team has observed that the crimes are being committed not only by males who did not have “proper” role models in the homes, but by young Catholic men.
“Too many young Catholic men are being lost…. If men feel the Church is only for women, where are you getting your priests?” he asked. He also drew reference to girls who did not have a male figure in the household. To this end, Birmingham said, “We have to come now and set up some models of what a husband, [and] father should look like,” he said.
Other activities include a hike into Maracas with sons and fathers, a 5K in June, musical celebrations and concerts across the Archdiocese for young men and women as well.
Cognisant of single mothers raising sons and the question of whether the launch is also an invitation to women, Birmingham responded: “On the 19th [March], you can’t say to a man ‘I want you to come to the launch but don’t bring your wife’. That’s ridiculous,” he said.
“Women are included…. We’re not saying forget women…. A number of women will bring their husbands. If you reach out to women too, you will find a lot of them will encourage their husbands to come. You can’t exclude women; they’re very much a part of the Church,” he said.
Birmingham again reiterated that the launch is an “outreach” to families with a focus on men—a demographic the Church desperately needs. Deacon Toussaint added that this particular team came together enthusiastically recognising that “something had to be done now, if not sooner”.
He commented that the launch’s date, March 19 is fitting as it is in observance of St Joseph, the patron saint of many things, including fathers. Ultimately, he believed the society as a whole will benefit when men take their “rightful” place.
The National Catholic Men’s Ministry will be launched on the Feast of St Joseph.