National Leader’s Report – July 2012

Greetings everyone.  

Well here we are half way through the year and the business end of winter is kicking in with a vengeance. It’s hard to believe the shortest day has passed already. By the time you read this, God willing, I will be enjoying an English summer holiday, swanning around in shorts and a tee shirt basking in the warm sunny Northumberland climate (he said somewhat hopefully) getting used to the somewhat hopefully) getting used to the idea of being a grandfather.

Wilma and I have been anticipating this with great excitement for many months now. Please pray that all goes well with our trip and for the safe arrival of our first grandchild.   They say there is only one constant in life….change. We tend to cruise along in life, seldom thinking that things are going to change, especially when we are onto a good thing, and then all of a sudden are faced with something that will take us down a different road.

So it is with Joshua; as we find ourselves rather reluctantly accepting Fr Bruce McGill’s decision to step down from the role of Joshua Catholic Men’s Fellowship National Chaplain.

Recent changes have meant that Fr Bruce has now taken up the role of Parish Priest at Mother of Perpetual Help, Glendowie as well as continuing his role as Formation Director for the Redemptorist Order. This has been one of the main reasons for his decision and clearly, the additional workload he is now carrying is making him very busy indeed.   Many years ago Fr Bruce accepted the NLT’s invitation to take up the position of National Chaplain for an initial 3-year term and he has faithfully served us in that capacity ever since. In fact we struck gold. We have all benefited from Fr Bruce’s wisdom, enthusiasm and generosity over these many years.

 In particular, his faithfulness to the commitment he made all those years ago to write a monthly article for our newsletter has been outstanding. They have always been spot on, and so inspirational. Many men have commented to me over the years that these articles have spoken to them at a time they have needed it; so we know it is indeed the Holy Spirit who has been speaking through Fr Bruce in this way.   We have also been greatly blessed by his priestly ministry and engaging preaching style at so many Joshua retreats, Life in the Spirit Seminars, discernment days and the like during his time as chaplain. We will surely miss him but I’m sure you will all join me in wishing him well and continue to support him in prayer.

 Fr Bruce, we say to you, “well done, good and faithful servant”. We now begin the task of finding another National Chaplain who will have some pretty big shoes to fill.  

In last month’s newsletter, we published Part 1 of what was to be a 2-part excerpt from the Poem of the Man-God.  It has come to our attention however that the circulation and publication of this particular piece of literature does not come with the blessing and encouragement of the Catholic Church, which had at one time in fact banned it completely.

When made aware of this, we sought the advice of our chaplain and as a result have decided not to publish Part 2. It is one of those awkward things where we know that some have been touched by what they have read in Part 1. There are others who know of the contentious nature of this particular work and the church’s attitude to it who were surprised to see it included in a Joshua publication.  On behalf of the NLT I apologise for not having done our homework thoroughly before publishing the first part last month, but we must respect the views the Catholic Church has regarding this.  

Lastly, preparations are progressing well for our two retreats later this year. Many have noticed that we have decided to call these retreats “Recharge Catholic Men’s Retreat”.

The annual retreats that Joshua has organised and run over the years have always attracted some men who do not attend Joshua meetings throughout the year and we always try to promote these retreats as being for all men, not just Joshua attendees. However, we believe that there are men out there who still regard our retreats as a “Joshua retreat” and do not register because they don’t feel they belong.

 Our decision to give the retreats a new identity from this year forward is to appeal to a wider body and age range of men. It is our vision that “Recharge Catholic Men’s Retreat” will become recognisable in the same way that “Hearts Aflame”, “Jesus 4 Real” and other similar events are known.

Joshua will be the driving force behind these retreats and we make no secret about that, but we also want to ensure that men do not feel when they read of the retreats that they are coming along to a Joshua recruitment drive. That is not the purpose of the retreats, although traditionally we have always gained a few men each year as a result. That will still continue I’m sure.

Each retreat will still have a particular theme. This year the theme is to be “I am the vine, you are the branches” and we have been very fortunate that Bishop Colin Campbell is to present both retreats for us. A new website is being developed to promote the retreats and registrations will be open shortly.  I hope to see many of you there.

God bless—Mike