More than any phrase in the Scriptures, I can identify with this one on my daily walk. I have been a priest for over 35 years and while I love the ministry, as an introvert, I am pushed out from my comfort zone all the time. I serve almost 5,000 of the greatest people at Notre Dame and I am humbled to be with them. As I have come to know them, I find a number who are searching for support and strength as men. I pray before I converse and ask for the Spirit to guide us. At times I have been nudged to ask them if they ever considered being part of a men’s group. Most have never heard of such a group, but I share that we have one on campus that meets once a month for 90 minutes or so.
This gathering I share has changed my life and allowed me to open up and be vulnerable. It allows one to look at issues within a trusting, compassionate atmosphere. It is not a fixing or problem solving group, but one that listens and is affirming. The staff is a diverse population, and I like a men’s group that is also.
We are young and seniors, blacks and white, and of all creeds and backgrounds. After I make the invitation, I put the rest in God’s hands and give them my card so they can contact me if they have questions or would like to go to the next gathering. I often will meet the men and walk over to the sessions with them. Some men come a few times and don’t come back and that is OK. It is not for everyone.
I hope this article will encourage us all to invite men to join the groups. If I as an introvert and filled with rejection concerns can be a voice of invitation, it is something we can all do. Maybe the person is next to us at work, a neighbor, a stranger, or a person at church, but be not afraid to welcome them to new ways of being brothers on the journey.
Fr. Jim Bracke