Anita Draper
Catholic Herald staff

The Diocese of Superior 2022 men’s retreat had a strong turnout and an inspiring message, diocesan officials said.

Forty-nine men joined the retreat Feb. 5-6 at Heartwood Resort in Trego, up from 33 men in 2020. The 2021 retreat was initially delayed, then canceled, due to the pandemic.

This year’s attendees came from across the diocese and beyond. Parishes represented included Medford, Merrill, Rice Lake, Ashland, Washburn, Superior, Rhinelander, Woodruff, Somerset, Hudson, Hayward, Birchwood, New Richmond and Three Lakes. They were joined by two men from outside the diocese.

“Redeeming Masculinity: Christ’s Urgent Call to Authentic Manliness” was the weekend’s theme; Peter Andrastek, the presenter, is an adult formation leader in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

“We have been doing these retreats for several years and we have had some terrific fruits – but there was something different about this one,” said organizer Chris Hurtubise, director of the Office of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship. “The way that Peter talked about our role in the mission of the church was super inspiring to the guys.”

Hurtubise added, “There was one quote in particular that has come up several times since the retreat. He said, ‘Your post in the world is your post in the church; to leave your post in the world is to leave your post in the church.’ That really struck a nerve and was inspiring and liberating. So many of these guys are raising families and trying to build a career and they feel this pressure that if they love the Lord they need to show that by being more and more active in parish life, but there just isn’t margin for it.

“Peter’s message was that as men we are called to be active and generous with our time in serving our parish, but as husbands our primary outlets for carrying out the church’s mission is our family and our secondary outlets are our career and our community,” he continued. “Many men are working 40, 50, 60 hours a week … that time cannot be compartmentalized. Jesus doesn’t just want the handful of hours we can be at church. He wants it all. That’s what it means to call him ‘Lord.’ Peter gave us some beautiful tools to do that. So I would say it was deeply liberating, but also deeply convicting!”

Dcn. Brian McCaffery, who serves parishes in Hayward and Cable, was one of four deacons in attendance. He called the it “the best retreat I’ve been on this century.”

“Peter emphasized Vatican II’s teaching about the role of the laity,” Dcn. McCaffery explained. “As he put it, the layman’s ‘post’ is in the world, for the secular arena is where the laity is called to witness to Christ.  If one trades his post in the world for a post ‘in the church,’ then he has actually lost his post in the church.

“In other words,” the deacon summarized, “it’s all right to participate in ‘churchy things’ (Peter’s term) in the parish, but that is not the primary role of the laity.

“In that vein, Peter also called the retreatants to excel in their secular lives and their secular vocations, for ‘your prestige is your platform,’” Dcn. McCaffery said. “In other words, excellence in the secular arena provides you with a platform — a hearing — from which you can then more effectively evangelize.”

Andrastek also talked about how to evangelize, the deacon said.

“Peter noted that, for most of us, evangelization won’t involve going down the street knocking on doors. Rather, it requires us to build relationships out in the secular world, and then strategically create opportunities for witnessing to those who need to hear the good news.”

The retreats are also a great opportunity for building friendships and fraternity among the men of the diocese, Hurtubise observed, citing “the great blessing of time around the table at meals and around a fire during the social hour.”

“It’s such a gift to the guys to be able to dive deeper into Christ-centered friendship with each other,” he added. “It has been so edifying to see how the Lord continues to strengthen our diocesan church through building up these bonds of Christian friendship. As this retreat continues to grow each year those fruits just become more and more abundant.”

Brett Jones, Superior, who went on the retreat, commented, “The retreat offered a perfect blend of prayer, liturgy, challenging presentations, and fellowship. I gleaned some very practical ideas of ways to grow in holiness in my daily life at work and home and am already putting some of these concepts into practice.”