Bishop stresses need for prayer, reflection at Men’s Mass

By David Myers
Correspondent

Several hundred men gathered from around the Diocese of Austin for the seventh annual Men’s Mass at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin on July 18. Sponsored by the Central Texas Fellowship of Catholic Men, the main celebrant for the Mass was Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Garcia of the Diocese of Austin. 
Father Albert LaForet, pastor of St. Mary Cathedral; Father Hai Nguyen, associate pastor of the Cathedral; Father James Misko, pastor of St. Louis Parish in Austin; Missionary of St. Paul Father Daniel Ihunnia of Nigeria, a visiting priest; and Msgr. Donald J. Sawyer, pastor of Our Lady’s Maronite Parish in Austin concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Garcia. Members of the Knights of Columbus and the Knights of Peter Claver from around the diocese formed an honor guard for the Mass. 
In his homily, Bishop Garcia said it was important for Catholic men to learn the value of “withdrawing” in order to pray, reflect and reconnect with God and with others.
“This is not an easy thing to do,” he said. “In our modern society we always want to be about doing things. We have expectations to fulfill. But if we consider St. Joseph, we remember that it was in rest that God spoke to him. It was in a dream that the angel revealed God’s plan to him.”
Though Scripture doesn’t record any words that Joseph spoke, Bishop Garcia pointed out how Joseph’s life speaks to believers today. 
“God chose Joseph to be the foster-father of Jesus, to make a home for Jesus and provide for him. Like Joseph, we should make a home for Jesus in our lives, first and foremost in our prayers. We should also call on St. Joseph’s intercession for us as fathers, as men of faith,” he said.
Bishop Garcia emphasized that men are called to make a positive impact in the world.
“When we hear God’s voice, we must arise from our slumber as Joseph did. Faith draws us into the world. The holy Eucharist enables us to continue building up the kingdom of God in our world.”
Joe Paul Garza, a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Parish in San Marcos, has attended the Men’s Mass for the past several years. His desire to deepen his experience of the Catholic faith and his desire to share that faith with his family, led him to attend the Masses.
“I had a conversion experience at age 44,” Garza said. “I was married in the Catholic Church, and my wife, Esther, was a practicing Catholic, but it was at this time in my life that it all came together. I discovered so many treasures in the church and I wanted to pass that on to my children and grandchildren.”
Garza’s son, John Paul, attended the Men’s Mass with him. Also a parishioner at St. John the Evangelist, John Paul said this was his second year to attend and it was something he wanted to share with his father.
Evandro Menezes, a parishioner of St. William Parish in Round Rock, was attending the Men’s Mass for the first time.
“It is good to have the church set aside a Mass just for men. It helps men to affirm their faith in the church as men,” Menezes said.
After the Mass, men were invited to participate in fellowship in the Bishop’s Hall. The Central Texas Catholic Fellowship of Men distributed prayer books to all men who came to the reception, and men were invited to join that organization, which hosts an annual men’s conference in February. The 2016 conference will be held Feb. 20 at San José Parish in Austin and will include Mass celebrated by Bishop Joe Vásquez. More information on this and other upcoming events can be found at www.ctfcatholicmen.org.