Tim Storino coaches high school sports, and his players work hard to get ready for games. He figures, why should it be any different in practicing our Catholic faith?
“We don’t just show up and play the game,” Storino said. “The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.”
Storino, a member of St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin Parish in Whitehall, is one of thousands of men whose lives have been transformed by the annual Gathering of Catholic Men in Pittsburgh. Described as an awakening encounter and conversion experience, the event nourishes the faith of practicing Catholic men and sends them back to help renew their parishes.
The volunteer board of Our Campaign for The Church Alive!, Inc. has awarded a grant to the Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Pittsburgh (CMF) to help promote the Gathering and continue to grow the number of parish-based men’s groups.
Founded a decade ago by Deacon Jeff Ludwikowski and Pat Molyneaux, CMF helps men form and strengthen personal relationships with Jesus Christ. The Gathering has brought hundreds of inactive Catholic men back to Reconciliation and Holy Communion through a day-long program of sacraments, speakers and songs.
“The guys are really on fire when they leave, and we don’t want the flames to go out,” said Pete Diulus, CMF’s chairman and a member of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Pleasant Hills.
The volunteer-led organization helps promote men’s groups, which have grown from 55 parishes to 80 since 2013, with the goal of increasing to 125 within three years.
Chad Ficocelli attends the CMF group at Holy Trinity Parish in Robinson and tries not to miss the Gathering of Catholic Men.
“To see so many men in one place engaging in their Catholic faith, waiting in long lines for confession, to realize the amount of mercy and healing, it’s something that brings me such joy,” Ficocelli said.
Mark Joseph, vice chairman of CMF, initially kept declining invitations to attend.
“Anything was more important than my relationship with the Lord,” Joseph said. “Then I heard the CD’s of the talks and couldn’t believe what I had missed. Now CMF and the Gathering are an important part of my ongoing formation.
“Studies show that as goes the faith of the husband and father, so goes the faith of the family,” Joseph said. “Catholic Men’s Fellowship wants to play a role in helping to build the Church of Pittsburgh.”
The campaign grant will allow CMF to better promote the Gathering, bring in more prominent Catholic speakers, and provide training in discipleship.
Storino also helps lead a program on male spirituality called Behold the Man, held at St. Paul Seminary in Crafton and eight parishes across the diocese.
“I wish I had known about all this in college,” Storino said. “Guys who are busy and believe they don’t have time for Jesus need it even more.”
The next Gathering of Catholic Men is scheduled for Nov. 12, 2016 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.