Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • May
  • 17

Speakers encourage men to act

Posted By May 17, 2012 | 1:19 pm | Lead Story #2

By Margaret M. Russell

WESTBOROUGH – Bishop Reilly and the Gospel of John set the tone for the day at this year’s Diocesan Men’s Breakfas,t Saturday, at St. Luke Parish where the men were encouraged to put their faith into action to counteract a secularized society.
The bishop, and later, speaker Joe McClane, called the men to speak out in a world that is just as Jesus described it more than 2,000 years ago. In John, Chapter 15:18-21, which was read at the morning Mass, “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. … If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.’”
“It is not an easy world we live in,” retired Bishop Reilly said in his homily. “There is a spirit in the world that is very difficult. … It pushes God aside.”
“It is a very dangerous thing to see what our government is trying to do,” Bishop Reilly said.
“Today we face a blatant disregard for our religious freedom,” he said citing as an example the healthcare mandate that would force Catholics to violate their consciences and pay for abortion-causing contraception.
“We must remind our fellow Americans that religious liberty is guaranteed in the First Amendment, it was essential to our Founding Fathers … and we should be astounded at what is happening,” Bishop Reilly said. He said he has been a priest for more than 60 years and has never had to speak this way before. (Bishop Reilly was celebrating his 84th birthday Saturday, too.)
Christians are easily tempted to conform themselves to the spirit of the age, the Bishop said. The spirit of our age is profoundly secular – worldly. But our religion makes us other-worldly, he said.
We are proud to be both Catholics and Americans, he said, “but we should not have to choose one over the other.”
Bishop Reilly said the challenge today is to bring to the forefront a reawakening of Christianity. He told the men (and women) not to be afraid to let people know what they believe – to be happy to be part of the great living tradition of the Church.
“The truth of the Catholic Church is beautiful. The beauty, truth and goodness of the Catholic faith will always bring peace and joy,” he said. And we have to share that with others.
Vic Melfa, a businessman and parishioner at St. Luke’s who organized this year’s breakfast, introduced McClane with a call-to-action of his own. Mr. Melfa invited men and women to inform themselves, preceding the November elections, about the issues and about pro-life, pro-family candidates.
“Our role as told to us by our bishop and by our pope is: We must get active in the public place,” Melfa said.
McClane, a national speaker who calls himself “The Catholic Hack,” repeatedly called all the men to be martyrs – or witnesses – for the faith. Through baptism, he said, we are obliged to spread the faith. Echoing Bishop Reilly’s call for sharing the faith with others, McClane called it having a “zeal for souls.”
He told stories of “our family history” citing Bible stories that illustrated that where man has failed (ie: Adam, David) the Son of Man succeeds.
Having a zeal for souls, he said, is to have love for the person. In that love, “we must lead them to the truth. And Truth is a person – Jesus Christ,” he said.
“Being light in a dark world requires divine grace. … God knows you can’t do this on your own,” he said.
Using his background as a Marine, McClane told how the military trains its forces to respond in life threatening situations. “The Marine Corps knows that you can’t wait for the moment of contact with the enemy” to figure out what you’re going to do, he said. So you train. “You make up your mind; make a decision for your life. If you don’t, you’re a dead man,” he said. “You get up and assault the enemy with everything you’ve got.”
How does this apply to a life of faith?
“The devil’s coming for you. How many will hug the ground … or stand up and fight” he asked. The training you must have is to know your faith and to share it with others.
Joseph Klinker of Boston was at the breakfast. A lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard, he puts his faith in to action with a website called He said “prayer” is one action men could take to witness to Christ.
Chris Poirier of St. Mary Parish in North Grafton, who brought his son Matthew to the breakfast, said he thought Bishop Reilly’s comments at Mass were very pertinent to what is going on in the country today. He said he felt it was the Holy Spirit that drew him to the gathering.
Many of the nearly 90 men at the breakfast had attended the annual Diocesan Men’s Conference, including Al Russo of Immaculate Conception Parish in Lancaster and Fred Davis of St. Mary in Jefferson.
Russo said he attended the breakfast to make contact with other men of faith and to continue learning about his faith.