The 2011 Men’s Ministry Retreat was a great chance for members of our ministry to get away from Raleigh and go deeper in our relationship with Christ and grow in fellowship with one another. We headed up to St Francis Springs Prayer Center in Stoneville, NC, on October 7-9, and have come back encouraged and energized to worship and live out our life of faith.  We’re looking forward to the next Men’s Retreat on the weekend of October 20-21, 2012. If you are interested in planning or participating in the 2012 retreat, contact Jason Lillis at 847-8205 x244.

Our facilitator for the weekend was Fr. Emmet Murphy, OFM, leading us in reflection on the theme, “Go, Therefore, And Invite to the Feast Whomever you Find,” drawn from the Gospel reading for the 28th Sunday in ordinary time. Fr. Emmet chose 4 topics for us to guide our reflections:

1) Christ Sets the Banquet For Us – Fr Emmet kicked off our retreat by reselling for us the amazing love of God and how Christ invites each of us to always draw closer in our relationship with him and our faith community. We broke into our first small group discussion of the weekend, and I was very blessed throughout our retreat to share in the experience and wisdom of the fellow men in my group.

2) Allowing Ourselves to be fed by Christ – Christ does set the banquet for us, though sometimes we let our actions, our thoughts, or our habits get in the way of receiving fully. We have a hard time receiving blessings when we feel unworthy to do so! Fr. Emmet encouraged us to consider how we might get past those things which keep us from a deeper relationship with Christ. After our next meal, three of our members shared of their experiences of being in far flung places, and finding ways to celebrate feasts even in strange lands.

3) Celebrating the Wedding Feast – Once we get past that which keeps us from Christ, how can we participate in the feast? Fr. Emmet reminded us of the importance of celebrating the Eucharist, and joining in community and fellowship with one another after returning home. Steve Levesque, one of the Men’s Ministry’s foundling members, shared a witness to the love and grace of God in his life, blessing him and bringing him into times of feast, and helping him through times of fast, in his life of faith.

4) Feeding the Body of Christ – So fed and nourished, how can we take what we have received and go out to share with others in our community? We have many opportunities and ministries through which we can serve St Francis and those who are here. Fr. Emmet shared of his experiences at St Francis Inn in Philadelphia, and Tom Byrnes shared a witness on how husbands might use the stories and lessons from Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages” to better love our spouses.