The Men's Breakfast originated at St. Michael's more than 25 years ago (1987), when a group of men from the School Father's Club participated in a weekend retreat led by Father Lew Papera. The retreat was beneficial and the men wanted to continue on a monthly basis. Since that simple beginning, the Men’s Breakfast has met faithfully, year-round, the first Saturday of each month in the Parish Center following Mass (8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m.).
The purpose of the group is to provide fellowship and an opportunity to discuss matters of faith. Men rarely get the opportunity for this type of discussion and sharing. Jon Falkowski, who has been attending the breakfast for about 4 years, said “I have taken something spiritual from every meeting; some very profound…I love the atmosphere of being around other people that share my spiritual values -- that is rare in life.”
Each month, about a week before the meeting, simple reading material and a discussion question are sent out. Publications such as Catholic Digest, The Word Among Us, Spirit and Life, Catholic Update, Pecos Benedictine and occasional books are used. On numerous occasions outside speakers have presented a variety of faith-related topics. Bill Prendergast, a St. Michael’s parishioner who has been attending Men's Breakfasts since about 1994, says “This is a group that has diverse opinions; but where you always find out something new or get a different perspective.” Homer Brawley, a long-time parishioner of St. Michaels’s and a “founding” participant in the Men’s Breakfast, has said “The Men's breakfast provides a forum to share our lives with one another and to continue to grow spiritually. The group is very diverse and you learn that you have to be very open, patient and understanding of one another.” Homer passed away in 2013 and is very much missed by our group.
Most recently articles and information available on the internet have been provided and discussed. The aim is not to teach, but to encourage openness and sharing of perspectives on the challenges confronting men trying to live a Christian Life. In fact, Lou Brigando, who currently coordinates the meetings and, said: “Over the years more than 600 men have participated or received articles from our group. We meet every first Saturday in the same place throughout the year, rain or shine. Even men who haven’t joined us for many months come back and know we can be found same time, same place each month. An atmosphere of stability, and acceptance has helped us survive these many years."
A small-group format is used so that everyone feels comfortable. Spiritual support is provided for our group by our Parish Priests or other priests who have attended. The meetings are informal and fun. In past years some of our group have participated in weekend retreats at Loyola in Morristown and Weston Priory in Vermont. Our members have also been active in Cornerstone and many other areas of service to our Parish Community. Rich Bingham, a parishioner of St. John the Apostle and active participant since 1989, sums it up: “Many have come through in the past 25+ years, with a common thread being openness and willingness to share diverse opinions…we leave as friends to return the next month for another round of sharing.” He recounts a quote heard at one meeting: “Darkness can’t stand the light, but the light has no problem shining in the dark.”
More than a dozen men from the Men’s Breakfast represented St. Michaels at the 2013 Archdiocese of Newark Men’s Conference along with more than 3000 men from all Parishes within the Archdiocese. Men who were part of our first meeting in 1987 joined in prayer, song and fellowship. At this point the group has stood the test of time and the format is useful for men at any stage of spiritual development and walk of life. U.S. Army Chaplain, Father Steve Brosk, visited our group at one of our meetings and was pleased to tell us that he has modeled several groups in the military overseas after ours. Further information may be obtained by calling the Parish Center.
When: First Saturday of the month, following morning mass
Contact: Lou Brigando 908 276-2499