By Jordan Grantham
Young Men of God (YMG) is a popular and growing movement based on masculine Catholicism. The YMG Conference from 14-16 October 2016 at Stanwell Tops Event Centre gathered men from across the nation for a weekend of prayer, sport and mateship to grow in faith and brotherhood.
Nathan Tran grew up in the Diocese of Parramatta and is a client manager at Deloitte Australia. He was the conference lead for 2016. While there are many opportunities to learn about God, YMG is a unique opportunity to be with other men seeking and finding to live in the faith.
“When I was first invited to a YMG conference, I was already on the journey of finding my faith, but a mate, Ben, challenged me to go and take the next step up,” Nathan said. Word of mouth also spreads through girlfriends and wives, who often speak highly of the benefits YMG had on their relationships.
Witnessing other men practising the faith can lift a man’s faith and dedication to a new level.
“I saw guys packing out rooms bellowing out worship songs, battling it out on the soccer and touch footy field. I heard the thunder of footsteps of men walking to the Reconciliation line. It was there that I knew I was part of something much bigger than myself,” Nathan said.
YMG responds to a crisis among young men. It claims young men have been “rendered worthless” in the eyes of the world. Common causes include a carefree lifestyle, pornography, drug use, problem gambling and drinking to excess. Men’s dignity is reduced with distant or absent fathers, losing employment, or having unreliable friends.
Extended adolescence and obsolescence can cripple men’s fulfilment. Nathan argues men need a challenge to find fulfilment. “Without a challenge or that sense of adventure we lose direction and take the easy way of life. With no goal there is no achievement.”
Men find their ultimate fulfilment and challenge in the life of the Church.
“With no meaning, there is no purpose. With no relationship, there is no identity. In the life of the Church, we will find a challenge and call to action that will never end – the everlasting search for holiness and the drive to bring all peoples of the earth to God,” said.
Nathan believes men’s ministry in the Church creates a forum by which men can start talking about the real issues that are going on in their lives. Men often do not talk about ‘big-ticket items’, problems and fears; because men worry they will lose the respect of others by sharing any of these things.
YMG has helped Nathan learn about the power of brotherhood, the collective strength of men to improve each other, relating more with men and women and pushing himself to new challenges in service and leadership, in the Church and secular society.
Men from across the Diocese of Parramatta have benefitted from the YMG Conference, and a fortnightly men’s group has met in St Michael’s Parish, Baulkham Hills, for the past seven years. Approximately 100 men from the Diocese have participated in the activities of YMG over the years.
Former Bishop of Parramatta Anthony Fisher OP led a YMG event in 2011, ‘Big Men Big Words’. He shared a Bible reading (Acts 1:8) and led reflection on why this reading had such an impact on him. “He even joined the small group discussion and got into the banter between the lads,” Nathan said.
The annual conference at Stanwell Tops gathered more than 150 men from across Australia to hear from inspirational speakers, including Fr Rob Galea, Bruce Downes ‘The Catholic Guy’, Karen Doyle and Fr Ken Barker MGL.