Men encouraged to ‘stand on the power of God’
By Jerry Zufelt
Special to The Catholic Accent
GREENSBURG — Deacon Ralph Poyo exhorted men to stop being “pew potatoes” and show people how to encounter the living God in his closing talk at THE WELL: “Be Not Afraid,” the Diocesan men’s conference, March 25 at Christ Our Shepherd Center.
“We need to stand on the power of God, but we are not living by the Word of God,” he told the more than 200 participants. “The world sees no conviction in our faith in Jesus Christ. We give it lip service.”
He urged them to instead be “all in” in their commitment to Jesus Christ and the church.
“We have to turn everything over to the Lord,” said Deacon Poyo, founder of New Evangelization Ministries in Texas and a speaker at parish and diocesan events around the country.
In his keynote address in the day’s first session, he said many men have replaced fear of the Lord with fear of man and treat church like a country club.
Deacon Poyo said we need to cry out to God in humility.
“Nothing is stronger than his mercy; we need to ask for it,” he said. “God wants to dwell in us.”
In his Great Commission at the close of the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus reminds the disciples that he would be with them always, Deacon Poyo said.
“Be not afraid. Not because it isn’t scary but because Jesus is right here,” he said.
The day featured several other speakers.
Father Joseph Freedy, a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, told the men they need to be transformed.
“You cannot conform to this age because it has too much anger and lust; you need to take yourselves out of this age,” he said. “You have to want holiness and ask for holiness. Share your heart with God.”
Greg Wasinski, executive director of “Let Me Be …” Ministries near Cleveland, said men need to allow God in their lives the six days of the week after Sunday Mass.
“God’s plan is bigger than our plan,” he said. “He wants us to all journey together. He wants us to be everything he created us to be.”
Vincent Reilly, Managing Director of Faith, Family and Discipleship for the Diocese of Greensburg, presented an overview of the National Eucharistic Revival and emphasized how receiving the Eucharist is to participate in the divine life.
“The Eucharist is the place where Jesus comes into us,” he said. “God is God, and we are his instruments. True humility is taking the place assigned to us by God.”
Bishop Larry J. Kulick celebrated the closing Mass. In his homily about the Gospel account of the raising of Lazarus from the dead, the Bishop noted how Lazarus is obedient to Jesus.
“Jesus says, ‘Lazarus, come out,’ and Lazarus is obedient to the Word of God made flesh,” Bishop Kulick said.
“Listen and be obedient as Lazarus was,” he said. “Come out of the darkness into the light.”
Deacon Poyo’s presentations resonated with several participants, including parishioners of St. Anne Parish Tom Gregg and Homer Zucconi.
Zucconi said he also was inspired by the talk by Father John A. Moineau, who after many treatments for pancreatic cancer and the help of prayers is now cancer free.
Paul Rockar, a parishioner of Mother of Sorrows Parish, Murrysville, said the day was faith-filled and inspiring.
“It will help me inspire others to join ministries to be examples for the whole faith community,” Rockar said.
The other conference speakers were Capuchin Father Andrew Corriente, parochial vicar of St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish and St. Thomas More University Parish in Indiana; Deacon William Hisker, Director of the Permanent Diaconate for the Diocese of Greensburg and a professor at Saint Vincent College, Latrobe; Dr. Jason King and Dr. Michael Krom, both professors at Saint Vincent College; Benedictine Father Justin Matro, pastor of St. Bartholomew Parish, Crabtree, and a professor at Saint Vincent Seminary and Saint Vincent College; and Catholic author Mike Aquilina.