In November of 2004, Chuck Gura and I tried to form a men’s small faith group (patterned after the St. Joseph’s Covenant Keepers) in our parish and it failed. Year after year some guy would come up to me after Mass and ask me when we were going to bring back the “Joseph’s group.” I smiled nicely and said “we’ll see,” knowing well I was not interested in another failure. Finally in the Spring of 2009, I relented and invited some of the male leaders in our church to discuss revamping the group. (This idea was founded on John Maxwell’s Law of Explosive Growth). We kicked around format ideas and settled on a new name – Joe Catholic. We got the idea from Joe the Plumber in the recent presidential election. We also liked the name because we wanted to promote that we were just ordinary guys trying to learn our faith. The name also still gave us a link to our patron, St. Joseph.
Joe Catholic now meets the First and Third Saturday of each month, bright and early at 7:00 AM in the Family Formation building at St. Catherine of Siena in Carrollton, TX. A core group of over fifty men regularly attend the workshops and we consistently have 20+ men at workshop.
We have settled on a three prong format: Catholic Toolbox, Saint Talk and FAQ of Faith. Each session lasts about 15-20 minutes and they are non-sequential by design. The Catholic Toolbox is normally a catechetical talk, focusing on primary teachings of the Church. Saint Talk covers the life of a saint whose feast we will celebrate during the month we are meeting. We focus on the lessons we can learn from their lives, both before and after their encounters with Christ. FAQ of Faith takes an apologetic approach to questions Catholics are often asked by their non-Catholic friends and family.
We maintain a casual environment encouraging men to show up late if they have to and leave early when they need. The bottom line is that we want to help men grow in their Catholic faith.
Blessing from Our Bishop
Bishop Kevin Vann, who was our bishop at the time, invited us to the Fort Worth cathedral (St. Patrick) to celebrate mass with him and subsequently to present one of our meetings to him. He subsequently took an interest in our little group and wrote a blog post about another visit we had with him. Here’s a video of our second meeting with Bishop Vann in 2011.
This blog began as a supplement to the gatherings with resources for deeper study of the topics covered in the gathering. Now, we hope it will be an instrument to promote the apostolate on a wider scale, casting the net into deeper waters. We pray that it be a tool to help those seeking to answer God’s call to universal holiness.
NOTE ON THE LOGO: The artisan’s toolbox represents that we are all working men living ordinary lives. The green book is the Catechism of the Catholic Church representing that we are loyal to the Church’s teachings. The black book is the Holy Bible to represent that we are men of the Word of God. The Rosary represents that we are men of prayer. The hammer and rule are representative of the traditional symbols of St. Joseph – the original Joe Catholic and our patron saint.
If you are interested in starting a men’s formation group in your parish and would like to model Joe Catholic, contact Don Gonzalez at firstname.lastname@example.org