Special Message From Father John

I have found that as you get older there are few things left in this world that live up to the “hype” that surrounds them. I arrived in the Diocese of Lake Charles on June 1st, for the first time, and immediately as I got to St. Theodore in Moss Bluff I started hearing about this thing called ACTS. They even had a trailer in their parking lot devoted to it. As I filled in at the parish for just that month, I discovered that many of the active parishioners had been on an ACTS retreat. (I thought they were saying Axe at first like, “Aks me no questions and I will tell you no lies.” – or like the body spray.) They liked to talk about how it changed their lives and yet no details. “What exactly was an ACTS retreat?” I thought to myself. “What are they hiding anyways?”
Well in just that month I met a lot of committed Catholics who swore that these retreats were amazing Then, I came to our Beloved St. John Vianney Parish and it started all over again. Some of the first people who were intent on welcoming me to the parish had attended ACTS retreats. They were extremely nice, the kind of nice that makes you say to yourself “what’s this guy on?” I was reticent at first but then I gave into their kindness and persistence. They kept giving me hugs and saying how much they appreciated me. They gave words of encouragement. I was thinking at times, “They sure are laying it on thick.” [Remember I'm also a judge at the tribunal and have been trained to be somewhat skeptical at times of the emotional.] I thought “What do they want from me?” My protection mechanisms were kicking in.
But I was duped O Lord and my, how did you dupe me! I had to let my guard down because of these guys’ persistence and genuine Christ like attitudes. So, I gave in and said to myself, “If this is important to the men of this parish, then it is important to me, their pastor.” “It's my responsibility to see to their spiritual wellbeing and so I'd better find out what it's all about.” So I filled out the application and accepted their warm invitation. I resigned myself to it and went along with the ‘Programme.’ I was tired as I walked up to St. Raphael with my suitcase, towel and pillow and I was none too excited that another whole weekend would be gone, a weekend when I had so much to do back at home. So I dragged my feet in there and said to myself “ok just give it a try.” What would unfold over those days I can't explain but I gave my will over to it if the Lord wanted it. So much happened in that weekend it reminded me of the scripture: “There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written” John 21:25.
So fast-forward, Saturday evening before we go home from the retreat. I'm lying there so excited I can't go to sleep; I must've prayed 20 rosaries that night. It was like the sensation I had on Christmas Eve as a child, the expectation of something big, that magic of wonder, He is being born into the world. As I aged some of the magic faded and I didn't think it would ever return; but that night was different, my spirit was praying even though I wasn't aware of sleeping. I was praying for all the guys and their needs. I woke the next morning and knew something had happened on this retreat. Yes, I was exhausted on one hand but energized on the other. I was filled up, by the guys, by their prayers, by the Lord himself. Something very special had happened because those guys were persistent. They blessed me. I blessed them in turn. We continue to bless each other.
When brothers (or sisters, for that matter) get together for the Lord – Wow! What a powerful thing that is! Now I know there’s a bunch of guys out there who “Got my back” spiritually, and fraternally. Isn't this what every man (and woman) needs? The hype was real; they just didn't have the words to explain it. Really, neither do I. Except that it's a personal experience of Jesus Christ. I encourage everyone to sign up to be chosen for an ACTS retreat. Hey women, even sign up your husbands, your boyfriends. Guys, sign up your brothers and fathers. They will not be disappointed.