Bishop calls men to leadership during annual Mass
By Burnie Cook
On the warm morning of July 20, a congregation of more than 300 met at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin where Bishop Joe Vásquez celebrated the fifth annual Men’s Mass. Singing was led by the Compline Choir of St. Louis King of France Parish in Austin, directed by Father Larry Covington with Chris Oelkers accompanying on the organ.
The Mass was sponsored by the Central Texas Fellowship of Catholic Men (CTFCM).
The readings came from the Book of Exodus (12:37-42) and the Gospel of Matthew (12:14-21). In Exodus we heard about how the “children of Israel” left Egypt; in the Gospel the Pharisees are beginning to plot against Jesus and “He withdrew from that place … to fulfill Isaiah the prophet.”
In his homily the bishop recognized the new pontificate of Pope Francis and shared some personal reflection. Pope Francis’ papacy began on the feast of St. Joseph, who has very special affiliation with fathers for he is the father figure of the Holy Family.
“He’s also a Joe,” Bishop Vásquez joked.
Ken Ciani, vice president of Central Texas Fellowship of Catholic Men, as well as a parishioner of St. John Neumann Parish in Austin, said he appreciated that Bishop Vásquez brought positive attention to fathers who brought their sons to the Mass. There was also applause for the 1988 deacon class who was in attendance with wives.
Ciani especially liked the bishop’s point that we need to be living our faith in church but also in our daily lives. He said it is important to remember that we are called to imitate Jesus. We must let our actions speak, without shouting, and we must not be afraid to let the Spirit guide us, he said.
Jonathan Herrera, a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Austin, felt challenged to be more of a leader in his parish and in his home. He hopes he and his wife, working together as a partnership, can continue to have a positive impact on their son and daughter.
Vince Cortez, a parishioner of Emmaus Parish in Lakeway, says that he and his wife are both active in the church. They have children who are 11, 5, 2 and 6 months.
“To follow God [is] to find his purpose in life,” he said. We should also not lose sight that we can “be in communion with God through prayer [and the] Mass.”
There was also a reception after the Mass, which allowed men to visit with one another. Dennis Daniel, who with his wife attends St. John Vianney Parish in Round Rock, was a special guest at the reception. Daniel wrote a book entitled “Man Up!: A Practical Guide to Being a Dad,” which was published last March. He has been married for 34 years, and had three grown children and one grandson.
Daniel is a proponent of “quiet leadership and let your actions speak louder than words.” As a member of Knights of Columbus, he also supports the bishop’s remark for men needing to be leaders.
The mission of Central Texas Fellowship of Catholic Men (CTFCM) is “to encourage and empower men to deepen their relationship with Christ, their family, their community, other Catholic men and to live their faith in everyday life.” They also feel an important Bible verse for men to know is Proverbs 27:17; that reads “as iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another.” CTFCM spreads their mission through three steps: conversion (results in committed followers), transformation (activates laborers for evangelization) and mobilization (develops growing, serving Christians).
The second annual Austin Catholic Men’s Conference will be Feb. 22. The theme will be “Man to Man.” For more information, visit