The Birth of Joshua Catholic Men’s Fellowship
Testimony of Maurice Schischka
During June I985 along with my wife and eldest daughter I attended a Life in the Spirit Seminar on Auckland’s North Shore. I had always belonged to the Catholic Church and had been active in church affairs, parish council, works committee, planned giving and various others for many years. But the Charismatic activities during the seminar, the singing, praising, joy, and the fellowship were all new and enjoyable experiences to me.
On the fifth night (the laying on of hands) I was baptised in the Holy Spirit and experienced a peace and love like I had never felt before. It was like my heavenly Father held me tenderly in His arms.
However, I did not seem to have received any of the gifts that we had been told about, not even tongues. My wife and daughter had each been blest with a number of the gifts, but not me. I was disappointed. I felt like a plane circling a busy airport waiting to land. Just waiting and waiting.
People that I spoke to afterwards said this was quite normal, as not all seemed to receive gifts immediately. “Keep praying and practicing your tongues” I was told.
As I used to travel to and from work on my own in my van, there was plenty of time to practice tongues, pray and sing out loud, often saying “when Lord, when?”
Coming home one night, just after turning into our street, and praying aloud, I found myself saying these words:
” I believe that thou art the Christ, the son of the living God. I believe all the sacred truths which the Holy Catholic Church believes and teaches”. I was puzzled by these words that had poured out. I seemed to recognise them, but why did they seem so familiar?
The following week at the prayer meeting, which we were attending, my wife spoke these words:
“Blessed be God”
“Blessed be His holy name”
‘Blessed be Jesus Christ true God and true man”
“Blessed be the name of Jesus”
Then she stopped.
I knew that these words were the first of the divine praises, we used to say them at Benediction. I then thought no more about them.
It was while working in the garden a few days later that the pieces suddenly fell into place and I laughed out aloud at the wonder of God.
The four blessings that my wife had spoken out were at the start of the old Holy Name Society pledge. The words that I had spoken out in the van were part of the continuation of that pledge. This pledge used to be recited by the men as a group once a month after Mass on a Sunday.
I had belonged to the Holy Name Society in my youth and as a young man. I had not spoken those words for some thirty years ……………
But what did all this mean?
I spoke to an old friend Atholl Metcalfe. “I think you should tell Fred Webb about it” he said.
“I don’t know Fred”
‘If the Lord wants you to tell Fred, He will arrange it” Atholl replied.
At the end of November, Dove fellowship, (which is a Catholic fellowship for women), were having their final function for the year in St. Ben’s crypt in Auckland, and as my wife belonged to Dove and husbands were invited, I went along. Just inside the entrance, two men stood talking. One was standing side on and the other was facing towards the door. On this man’s name tag was written Fred Webb. Later after sharing my experience with him, Fred said “I believe that the Lord is calling men together in some way”.
And so starting in January I986, a small number of men came together each month with numbers slowly growing to pray and wait on the Lord for direction. During this time two readings were received which became very important to the group. Both were from the book of Joshua. One of them “Have I not told you, be strong and stand firm”, Jos. 1: 9, and the other, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” Jos. 24:15. These two readings became motto’s and JOSHUA was decided as the fellowship name.
A vision of a J and its symbolism was also received. It represented a shepherds crook, a fish hook, an anchor and a cross, open ended for living water to flow into the dry desert, slowly moistening, nourishing, soaking in and then moving on.
It was decided that a twenty four hour retreat be held at the Franciscan friary in Auckland and invite Bishop Denis Browne to be our spiritual director. It appeared like a coincidence, but I’m sure the Lord had it planned; there was a cancellation at the friary on the only Saturday that the Bishop had free, so on August I5th I986 some 30 men came together to pray.
As a result of that day together, Joshua Catholic Men’s Fellowship was born.
Since that time there has been a steady growth with branches forming in other areas of New Zealand.