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November 19, 2019

Hombres de Dios “Our duty is to Love” by Silvia Vega

This past Saturday, November 16 2019, over 300 men gathered at St. Michael Catholic Church for the first Hombres de Dios (Men Of God) Retreat, with one mission in common; to have a one on one encounter with Jesus. With the guidance and direction of Father Benjamin Bradshaw, a group of about 20 men formed a team dedicated to bring Hispanic men closer to God and to make new disciples of Christ in their native language.

Three years ago Fr. Ben Bradshaw had a conversation with his friend Patricia Roca, parishioner from St. Francis of Assisi Memphis, after she experience the Annual Women’s Morning Of Spirituality held here in Memphis. She absolutely loved it but did notice the lack of Hispanic women involved even though they offered simultaneous translation via earphones. Patricia expressed to Fr.Ben what a wonderful idea it would be to have the same kind of experience for women but in Spanish. Thanks be to God the Mujeres de Dios (Women Of God) Retreat has been going strong for three years now, hosting anywhere from 800 to 1200 Hispanic women from all around the Diocese of Memphis every year.

Seeing the impact the women’s retreat had on all participants, Patricia’s husband Alberto Roca and Fr. Ben knew they had to do the same for men. A Hombres de Dios team was created and was led by Hispanic men from all different parishes in the Diocese of Memphis. The team members took it upon themselves to bring men to this event. They went to all the parishes that have spanish mass in our Diocese and invited men to the retreat. It was a true act of discipleship and the fruits of their labor paid off. Nearly 350 Hispanic men gathered that morning, and it was a beautiful view.

This year the theme for Hombres de Dios was “A Men’s True Dignity/St.Joseph Our Silent Model”. The guest speakers were Fr. Benjamin Bradshaw, Fr. Geraldo Azike, Roberto Gonzalez, HOMBRES DE DIOS RETREAT 1 Dr. Leonardo Acosta, and Raúl Mercado, with special guest Fr. Rafael Capo, Papal Missionary of Mercy from the Diocese of Miami and Director of the US Catholic Bishops Southeast Regional Office for Hispanic Ministry. The day was filled with beautiful worship songs that enhanced each of the talks and led the men in prayer. During the Adoration Hour of the Holy Eucharist, all the men were gifted rosaries and they all prayed it together. At that same time the men also had the opportunity to go to confession, which was a true gift because many of them admitted that they had not gone to confession in years.

At the half way point of the retreat the men were served lunch non other than by the Mujeres de Dios (Women Of God) team. It was a special moment to see. To end the day the men attended a beautiful mass celebrated by Fr. Francisco Franquiz parochial vicar of St. Michael and co-celebrated by Fr. Benjamin Bradshaw and Fr. Rafael Capo. As the closing hymn began, all the men in the church pews hugged ach other, swung side to side, smiled big and began singing together. If there was a moment where you could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, it was then. What a way to send forth the men to become disciples of Jesus.

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