Diocesan office pilots father-son retreat

An outdoor Mass was celebrated during a pilot GRIT weekend of fathers and sons Saturday and Sunday, April 20-21, at Elderslie Farm north of Wichita. (Advance photo)

A diocesan program to help boys understand what it means to be a man was piloted Saturday and Sunday, April 20-21.

Jake Samour said the program is an encounter between fathers and their adolescent sons to help the boys learn what it means to be a man, how to become a man, the challenges men face, and their call to greatness.

“That greatness comes from being a man for God, men of service, and men for others,” he said.
The program is named GRIT, an acronym for gather, relate, initiate, and transform.

Samour, the director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life, said the pilot was held at Elderslie Farm, located about four miles north of Park City. The facility has a cabin where the boys bunked and a refurbished barn where the men stayed. Activities included a hike, fishing, campfires, and games – including shooting slingshots reminiscent of David fighting the Philistine.

The challenges of becoming a man

“We talked about the challenge of becoming a man, what true masculinity is juxtaposed to what the world says,” he said. “We spoke about how God calls us to this great standard of becoming men for others and even though we may fail we have God’s forgiveness and mercy.”

The eight fathers and eight teenaged sons discussed several Bible stories of father-son relationships such as King David and his father Jesse, whose duty was to anoint a new king to replace Saul. The Lord didn’t choose the oldest son, Eliab, but instead chose David, the youngest.

A call to greatness

“Even his own father didn’t know about the mission that David had been called to be king, to be the anointed,” Samour said. “Sometimes as dads we may not see and our boys may not realize that they are called to greatness.”

David tells the Philistine in 1 Samuel 17, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands… .”

The fathers pointed out to their sons during the weekend that, they although David’s weapon was the Lord himself, David was not a perfect leader and grievously sinned against God many times. The group also talked about the relationship David had with his son Absalom who killed his half-brother Amon.
One of the highlights of the retreat was a blessing the fathers gave to their sons after which the boys received rosaries from their fathers.

Future retreats planned

Samour said he hopes to develop an outline with presentations and activities including time for journaling for future GRIT retreats.

“The hope is to have this structure made up with different options and to promote it in parishes and men’s groups throughout the diocese,” he said. “They can pick the place. Our hope is to duplicate it throughout the diocese and to keep going at the diocesan level so people can come to experience it, and then take it to their parishes.”