Catholic Men's Fellowship Pittsburgh

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April 6, 2013  

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Catholic men gathering April 6

"Be Not Afraid": The choice is yours 

Pittsburgh Catholic Staff Report 

It's time for men in the Diocese of Pittsburgh to make a choice: continue to make excuses or "Be Not Afraid?"

As Jim Zern, chairman of this year's Gathering of Catholic Men, wrote in a recent promotional e-mail, the excuses often go something like "It's just not for me."  

"Men of Pittsburgh, it is time to extend yourselves out of your comfort zone and not think about what is or isn't for you," he said.

Perhaps it has to do with "listening to some thought-provoking talks that could potentially resonate inside of you and, in turn, make you a better man."

"If you feel the gathering just isn't for you, then maybe it is indeed for those you love. Extend yourself, step out of your comfort zone, attend the Gathering of Catholic Men on April 6 and, most of all, come because you care about those special people in your life," Zern said.

The hours are counting down for men to descend upon Duquesne University's A.J. Palumbo Center for the eighth annual gathering.

The all-day event will feature dynamic Catholic speakers centered on the theme of "Be Not Afraid."

The lineup includes author George Weigel, former Methodist minister Allen Hunt, clinical psychologist and author Ray Guarendi, and lay evangelist Mark Nehrbas, along with Bishop David Zubik and Father Joe Freedy, diocesan director of priestly vocations.

The day will begin when doors open at 8 a.m. and the program starts at 9. Besides the speakers, there will a Eucharistic holy hour, uplifting music and opportunities for the sacrament of penance. The day will close with a 4 p.m. Mass led by Bishop Zubik.

Tickets to the gathering are $40 in advance, $45 at the door; advance students $10. Another option is a Power of Three group ticket ($99 for three). Clergy will be admitted for free. A boxed lunch will be provided.

Fathers are encouraged to bring their sons to the gathering, and Catholic Men's Fellowship of Pittsburgh has created a special Fathers and Sons ticket ($45 for two, or $22.50 per person).

Tickets can be purchased on the CMF website (, from parish CMF members or by check through the mail (Catholic Men's Fellowship of Pittsburgh, P.O. Box 13235, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15243).

A 24-hour phone line (412-403-4831) is available to field questions and offer ticket information. 

'Living a free and full life'



Father Joe Freedy, director of priestly vocations for the diocese, is set to speak Saturday, April 6, at the Gathering of Catholic Men at Duquesne University's A.J. Palumbo Center. He recently answered questions about the eighth annual event.  

Could you tell us a bit about your talk coming up at the Gathering of Catholic Men?

 First of all, I want to say how humbled I am to have been asked to speak at the gathering. I spoke at it three years ago and have attended each year since then, and it's always an incredibly inspiring day to be a part of and to participate in.  

 The theme I've been given for my talk for this year could be summed up as "Freedom in Christ." The main point is that Jesus came so that we might have "life to the full," as he says in John 10:10. 

 One of the reasons we're not living life to the full, living in that freedom that Christ came to give us, is because of the many fears that hold us back —that hold us, in a sense, captive. Because of those fears (about our inadequacy, our worth, our masculinity) we often go through life trying to prove ourselves to ourselves and to everyone else around us. When we live that way, we end up driving ourselves deeper into slavery. 1 John 4:18 says that "perfect love casts out all fear"; I hope in my talk to speak about how receiving that perfect love is the key to living a full and free life.       

 Why do you think there is a need for ministry to Catholic men?

 There is a need for ministry to every Catholic, not just to Catholic men. However, in a society that seems to view religion for the most part as being something that is more for women, particular outreach to men is crucial so that the fire of the Gospel is not lost to them. The Gospel is attractive to men when Christ is encountered as the radically challenging, controversial, passionate God-man that he truly is.

 From your perspective, what have been the effects of the annual gathering among our local men?

 I've seen incredible fruit born in our diocese because of the gathering; guys' lives have been changed and their hearts set on fire through the CMF ministry. They've been connected with one another and found that they aren't alone on the journey, that this diocese is filled with men just like them trying to grow stronger in their faith and become better sons, brothers, husbands and fathers.   

 What one aspect of the gathering stands out for its life-changing impact?

 One aspect of the gathering that stands out for me every year is the passionate, authentic way that the speakers proclaim the Gospel. Their stories and teachings have inspired conversion in me, and I look forward to that again this year.  

 Another aspect is the brotherhood that takes place. What an encouragement it is to look around and see thousands of men desiring to grow deeper in their faith by encountering Christ. And, of course, as a priest the long lines for confession and the closing Mass with Bishop Zubik are powerful to witness. 

 The weekend of the Gathering of Catholic Men is definitely one of the highlights of my year.

 Watch a promotional video featuring Father Freedy at the Catholic Men's Fellowship of Pittsburgh website ( 

 Advance tickets to the gathering are $40, available through parish Captains for Christ, online at, or by calling the information and ticket hotline at 412-403-4831.

 Tickets at the door will be $45, advance student tickets (ages 13-21) are $10, group Power of Three tickets, $99.

Be not afraid 


On Saturday, April 6, Catholic Men's Fellowship of Pittsburgh hopes to convene 3,000 men for the eighth annual Gathering of Catholic Men at Duquesne University's A.J. Palumbo Center. This year's theme is "Be Not Afraid."

 Why did Jesus so often address the apostles with the words "Peace be with you" and "Do not be afraid?" Because he understood the fears that trouble our hearts.        Some of us fear that we cannot withstand the temptations of the secular culture around us, that we lack the strength to put Jesus first in our lives. Others are afraid that we are not instilling the love of Jesus and his church in our children. 

 Some of us are filled with pain at the loss or sickness of a loved one, and we fear that God does not hear our prayers for comfort. Others are afraid to confess sins committed long ago and relegated ever since to the dark recesses of our hearts. 

 Some of us are fearful to seek reconciliation with someone who has hurt us, so we hold a grudge. We are afraid that person will reject our peacemaking effort and make us feel weak and foolish. Others of us have discarded "organized religion" in our lives, only to realize that we need divine help to face our mortality. 

 We all are afraid of the judgment that we know will come someday. All of us are afraid we are not big enough, tough enough, handsome enough, smart enough, rich enough. 

 The gathering is a day-long dose of peace that calms our fears. Surrounded by other men who face the same doubts, we gain strength. Kneeling before the monstrance containing the body of Jesus Christ, we sense the Savior's love washing over us. Kneeling in confession, we feel the healing power of forgiveness. Inspired by eloquent Catholic speakers, we understand the power of our church to transform the world. Worshipping in song, we join the angels in praise of the Father. And celebrating Mass with Bishop Zubik, we hear Jesus whisper to us, "Do this in memory of me," and realize that we are joined with 2,000 years of his followers.

 Those who have attended the gathering experience an intangible bond because we have all had the same fears, and we have all found the same relief in Jesus. We each leave our bag of troubles outside the door and find it easier to carry when we depart, eight hours later. We feel a bond because we are all struggling to put God first in our lives while being surrounded by a culture that rejects his laws. We feel a bond because the Holy Spirit works the room during the gathering, bringing love to every open heart. 

 Brother, if you have not attended the gathering before, be not afraid. If you have not attended Mass in 20 years, do not worry. If you are afraid you won't know anybody, relax. You will be welcomed. 

 Doors open for the eighth annual Gathering of Catholic Men at 8 a.m. The program begins at 9, and the day comes to a fitting close with 4 p.m. Mass. For details and online registration, see Solid Catholics, fallen-away Catholics, non-Catholics, men of no faith at all: Join us. All are welcome. Come and explore God's place in your life. Be not afraid!

Tupi, an attorney and member of St. Louise de Marillac in Upper St. Clair, is vice president of Catholic Men's Fellowship of Pittsburgh.

 Men's gathering offers answers to big questions 

Speakers will address the "Be Not Afraid" theme April 6   

By William Cone


Does God really answer prayers? Are we alone in this world? Why is it important to be Catholic?

Men looking for answers to these and other questions, big and small, are encouraged to attend the eighth annual Gathering of Catholic Men on Saturday, April 6, at Duquesne University's A.J. Palumbo Center. The doors will open at 8 a.m. with the program starting at 9.

A roster of dynamic, faithful Catholic speakers is scheduled to present messages centered on the event's theme, "Be Not Afraid."

The lineup of enthusiastic speakers includes:

-- Theologian George Weigel, author of "Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II" and many other books;

-- Former Methodist minister Allen Hunt, author of "Confessions of a Mega-Church Pastor: How I Discovered the Hidden Treasures of the Catholic Church";

-- Clinical psychologist Ray Guarendi, an author, public speaker and nationally syndicated radio host; and

-- Lay evangelist Mark Nehrbas, a popular presenter and director of development at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

They will join Bishop David Zubik and Father Joe Freedy, diocesan director of vocations, during the day, which will also feature a Eucharistic holy hour, uplifting music and opportunities for the sacrament of penance. The day will close with a 4 p.m. Mass with Bishop Zubik.

Tickets to the gathering are $40 in advance (through March 22), $45 at the door; advance students $10; father-son tickets $45 ($22.50 each). Clergy will be admitted for free. A boxed lunch will be provided.

The CMF website ( has been completely updated, and tickets can be purchased at the site. They also can be purchased from parish CMF members or by check through the mail (Catholic Men's Fellowship of Pittsburgh, P.O. Box 13235, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15243).

CMF of Pittsburgh, organizer of the gathering, has upgraded its outreach to attract more men to reach a goal of 3,000. 

"This year's theme, 'Be Not Afraid,' reaches out to Catholics, fallen-away Catholics, Christians of all denominations and all men, including those who may have no faith at all but have an interest in learning if God has a place in their lives," said Bob Sill of St. Thomas More Parish in Bethel Park.

CMF held boot camps in all four vicariates of the diocese in January to build excitement, talk about the upcoming event and discuss the future. 

Men in the diocese have been enlisted as "Captains for Christ" to spread the word about CMF's mission of conversion, formation and evangelization. 

"If it's a battle we are waging against Satan and his work, we need an army of Captains for Christ to take back this country in the name of Christ," Sill said.

One of the main promotional tools this year is the use of more than 120,000 Be Not Afraid wallet cards that are being handed out throughout the area. The cards contain the theme, an invitation to attend the gathering and contact information.

Organizers also are utilizing a concept modeled after the Trinity called the "power of three," urging men to invite two others and receive a discounted ticket price ($33 each). 

"There is also an outreach to all youth ministries in the diocese -- CCD, high schools, colleges and universities -- all are invited to become Captains for Christ to promote and to attend the event," he said.

One of Bishop Zubik's goals is reaching out to Catholic men who have, for whatever reason, stopped practicing their faith. He has directed all parish Captains for Christ to submit names of men who will receive free tickets in a personal appeal from the bishop.

A 24-hour phone line (412-403-4831) has been established to field questions and offer ticket information.

Most importantly, men are invited to pray a St. Joseph novena for the success of the 2013 gathering. The novena prayers are on the CMF website.

No matter their level of familiarity with the Catholic faith, those attending the gathering will be among friends and eager to have their big questions answered.