A diverse group gathered Dec. 5, 2020 at St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples to participate in the “No Man Left Behind Men’s Retreat.”
The retreat included participants from each of the three different men’s groups at the Parish. The groups are language-based (Creole, English and Spanish) and had never had the opportunity to gather for a retreat. Some 80 men participated in Adoration, Mass, dinner, a talk from Bishop Frank J. Dewane, as well as round-table discussions. Bishop Dewane celebrated the Parish Mass for the Second Sunday of Advent prior to joining the retreat.
The men were thrilled to have the Bishop present to address the different groups and to share his reflections on the role men play in society.
For a beginning, the Bishop cited the example of Pope St. John Paul II, stressing how the role of men is not only to DO things but to model their life on Christ and BE a witness for others.
“Be the witness by building a foundation in prayer,” Bishop Dewane continued. “Being a Catholic man living in the world today is not easy. Work to be a model for others to follow. In this time of moral and culture confusion, it is the role model that is needed. Sainthood follows later.”
Bishop Dewane noted that in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic, he consecrated the Diocese of Venice on March 19, 2020, to the protection of St. Joseph. A prayer card was provided for everyone and the Diocesan Prayer to St. Joseph was recited by the group.
“This foster-father of Jesus Christ is the Patriarch of the Universal Church,” Bishop Dewane said. “He is also guardian and protector of the Church and Her Faithful. St. Joseph is a figure who led by example, while also offering powerful prayer and protection. His example is something that can be followed by us all.”
When speaking of best practices for a Catholic man, Bishop Dewane cited a document written by Bishop Thomas J. Olsmsted of Phoenix, called “Into the Breach.”
This document was directed toward Catholic men in that Diocese, but Bishop Dewane said that the best practices offered were worth repeating. Best practices included praying every day, examining one’s conscience before going to sleep, attending daily Mass, reading the Bible and keeping the Sabbath. In addition, on a monthly basis they are encouraged to go to Confession while also focusing on the building of fraternity with other Catholic men.
“Each of these examples help to center you on your Faith,” Bishop Dewane said. “You are likely doing some of these already but strive to do more. These are easy steps on how to live one’s Faith and be the example.”
Following his talk, Bishop Dewane fielded a variety of questions. The first related to how one can encourage family/friends to return to their Faith. Bishop Dewane noted how this is question which often arises and how so much is dependent on a specific person on what is needed to bring ‘that individual’ back into the Faith.
“Much of what I have been speaking about, that is being the witness and magnifying the Light of Christ in the world is the most important thing you can DO.” Bishop Dewane went on to added, “Also, know your Faith and know the teachings of the Church; arm yourself with knowledge… Don’t ever judge or criticize, because there is likely more of a reason as to why they are away from the Church than what they might express. Be the light and love of Christ by being that example for others to follow.”
The retreat was organized by Father Franckel Fils Aime, Parochial Vicar at St. Peter the Apostle, and Moise Stael Dantes, Parish Communications and Youth Director. Group discussions and reflections were also shared.
Father Gerard Critch, Pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Parish, addressed the group and thanked the Bishop for addressing the retreat. Father Critch said it was wonderful to have all three men’s groups in one place and that they reflected the spiritual quote which served as a guidance for the retreat. “Where one alone may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12.
“We have the three-ply cord together in this room, and it is strong,” Father added.