Fathers Retreat Features Chicago Priest
Published: April 6, 2006
ATLANTA—The unique lessons shared by fathers and sons was the theme of the annual Atlanta Catholic Fathers Retreat hosted by Blessed Trinity High School, Roswell, and Marist School. More than 100 men gathered at Marist on Saturday, Feb. 4, for the event, which included an opening liturgy, the sacrament of reconciliation and a presentation by keynote speaker Father John Cusick.
Students and alumni from Blessed Trinity led the music at the opening celebration of the Eucharist, which was held in the Marist Chapel. There, the stage was set for the morning of prayer and reflection that focused on the commonality of all men as sons. “I wanted to weave together stories from my own relationship with my father, with the lessons Jesus teaches us in the Bible,” said Father Cusick, who drew valuable insights from his experience as the director of young adult ministry for the Archdiocese of Chicago. His work, which began with the creation of the ministry in 1977, has provided a unique perspective on the role of fathers and sons. Today Father Cusick leads a dynamic faith community at old St. Patrick’s Church in Chicago, where the Sunday Masses are often standing room only.
Throughout the retreat, Father Cusick captivated the audience of fathers by skillfully weaving his message around personal anecdotes. He emphasized the importance of “never being ordinary if you have the opportunity to be someone special.” Like Jesus calling ordinary men to be disciples, all men of faith are encouraged to allow Christ to operate through them so their children can become something special, said Father Cusick. He also discussed the importance of “never turning down an opportunity,” challenging the men to recognize and say “yes” to the countless chances for greatness that Jesus presents each person on their faith journey.
In small groups, the fathers discussed Father Cusick’s message, sharing their own stories and reflecting on the wisdom of his preaching.
“What Father Cusick said stirred thoughts and feelings that so many of us identified with,” said Ron Stokes, a Marist father of five. “The fellowship made the day a wonderful experience.”
“Father Cusick reminded us of our own father’s role in our lives, as well as the role we play to our children,” said Jack Dudley, a Blessed Trinity dad who helped coordinate this year’s retreat. “He spoke to us on such a personal level about his life growing up, and really reached everyone present. It is great to get all of these dads together each year to reconnect and share similar experiences.”
Drawing from the success of the retreat over the last several years, plans are already underway for the 2007 gathering, which is planned for Saturday, Feb. 3, at Blessed Trinity. Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory will be the keynote speaker for next year’s event, which will again welcome all fathers in the Atlanta Archdiocese for a morning of prayer and reflection.