SALEM — A Catholic men’s faith movement is continuing in western Oregon, with St. Joseph Parish here as headquarters.
“Men need to be called out from their spiritual sleep and wake up to see what is going on around them,” says James Thurman, a 40-year-old army veteran who leads adult faith formation at St. Joseph. He began a monthly men’s Holy Hour and an annual men’s conference.
Thurman says men have shirked their duty as spiritual leaders of their families and parishes. Men, he explains, are having trouble in an overly secularized world that is full of TV sports, pornography and other self-indulgences.
Thurman’s response is a call to chivalry.
“We need to be knights standing up in a post-Christian world,” he says. “We like to know our marching orders. Men like to know and be practical and know what to do and how to do it.”
Paul Matich, 52, attends every men’s Holy Hour at St. Joseph and helps with Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults at the parish. A native of New Zealand, he says he spent 20 years “in the spiritual wilderness” before returning to the church at age 35.
He notes that American men have an independent streak that does not serve them well in the spiritual life, which requires surrender to the Almighty.
Matich, a property tax appraiser for the state, appreciates the men’s spirituality movement because it allows room for men to do what they do — use reason and logic to try to figure things out.
But Matich remembers what Archbishop Alexander Sample said at the 2016 men’s conference: Faith must be rooted in a personal relationship with Jesus.
Matich can comprehend that. He knows what it’s like to be in a church full of men singing in adoration of the exposed Eucharist.
“It doesn’t hit you in a rational sense,” he says. “It’s a kind of encounter.”
Matich thinks Catholic men need to approach faith with minds and hearts.
“Unless men really get engaged, the church is really going to struggle in every age,” he says.
The next Holy League Men’s Conference is set for Oct. 20-21 in Salem.
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