May 19, 2006

Go and Make Disciples / John Valenti

Men reconnect with God at
Christ Renews His Parish weekend

It’s hard to get a group of men together, much less to set aside a weekend to talk about God.

Most guys I know spend their time reflecting on about making money or getting lost in sports instead of reflecting on where God is in their lives.

St. Barnabas Parish on the south side of Indianapolis recently hosted their 21st Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) weekend and also celebrated their 10-year anniversary with a program in April.

In the movie Jerry McGuire, Tom Cruise tries to apologize and profess his love to his wife, and goes on and on pontificating until she finally interrupts and says, “You had me at hello.”

From the opening session of the men’s CRHP retreat at St. Barnabas, in which I was a participant, “they had me at hello,” but then kept pouring it on and on and on.

At one point, I lamented, “My cup runneth over,” but they kept pouring it on. I told facilitator Joe Beiriger, one of the weekend leaders, “I feel like I’m drowning!”

He responded, “Yes, in Christ’s love.”

“We [men] are notorious for thinking that somehow ‘we’ are in control, and some are actually out of control,” said speaker Mike Chaney.

At some point, the Holy Spirit takes over, he said. “Grace alone, that amazing kind of grace, helps us realize where we have gone wrong.”

Father James Farrell, St. Barnabas pastor, said, “Sometimes there is a need for multiple acts of forgiveness stemming from one sinful act.”

The unexpected love and merciful forgiveness that Christ extends overwhelms us.

“Most people do not feel worthy and have difficulty receiving love,” Father Farrell continued, “but most surprisingly, Christ just keeps pouring it on.”

Joe Mennel, who recruits for the program, said, “I suppose we are each called at some point to respond to the promptings of our fellow parishioners to participate in a CRHP weekend.”

Half of the participants in our group admitted they wished they would have responded sooner. Mennel was very persistent. He even said a novena to St. Jude and got his 12 disciples!

Participant Matt Maddox said the weekend gave him an opportunity to grow and deepen his understanding of God’s love.

Echoing that message, Tom Bruno said, “CRHP was an opportunity to learn, practice and share our Christian witness. It’s important to find ways to share that faith with one another.”

CRHP is a gift the Holy Spirit has given to our Church.

Speaker Jim Rairden emphasized, “We can’t do anything without the Holy Spirit, who renews our faith in Christ.”

Facilitator Joe Beiriger said, “This has been the most important weekend of my life.… Friendship, honesty, a place of trust with these men.… We love this parish!”

Participant Greg Daeger said, “These are men who love Jesus Christ and each other, and aren’t afraid to admit it!”

Pat Cherry, who took part in the weekend, added, “I have been blessed.”

As we learn through Scripture, “So put on the new self, created in God’s way, in righteousness and holiness in truth” (Eph 4:7).

Make doing that a priority.

(John Valenti is associate director of evangelization and faith formation for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.) †


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