On any given Saturday morning, you can find a group of men gathered in the Fireside Room at Saint Timothy Catholic Church in Laguna Niguel.
For nearly 35 years, “Manna4Men,” as the group is known, has been studying and discussing books and topics relevant to our Catholic faith.
St. Timothy parishioners Bill Kinsey and the late Gary Carlson started Manna4Men in 1988 with the intent
to create an environment that men can come to learn more about their faith and strengthen their spirituality and personal relationship with Jesus Christ, according to Kinsey.
“Like-minded men can meet to pray and learn about both their Catholic faith, prayer, study and Jesus as a friend and Savio,” he said.
In Proverbs 27:17, King Solomon tells us, “Iron is sharpened by iron; one person sharpens another.”
The first book studied by Manna4Men was “Joshua,” by the retired American priest and now full-time author, Fr. Joseph F. Girzone.
Kinsey estimates that nearly 60 books have been studied, discussed and examined since the group began. Recently, the scope has been expanded to include DVD studies, and even some musical interpretations.
Over the years, Manna4Men has read and examined books such as “The Universal Christ” by Richard Rohr; “Nothing is Impossible with God” by John Michael Talbot; “In His Spirit: A Guide to Today’s Spirituality” by Richard J. Hauser, S.J.; “Rediscover Jesus” and “Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly; as well as several of Bishop Robert Barron’s teaching series DVDs, including “The Mass,” about our encounter with Christ.
Additionally, the group has been engaging in the monastic practice of Lectio Divina (Latin for Divine Reading to study the upcoming Sunday’s Scriptures. Lectio Divina is a method of praying the Scriptures dating back to the sixth century when St. Benedict made it a regular practice in monasteries. Although it was originally intended for those in religious life, Lectio Divina is now widely used by lay persons.
The method involves reading a passage from Scripture and re-reading it again and again. Then there is a time for reflection on its meaning. This is then followed by prayer and a time for contemplation on the Word of God.
DAVID MEYERS, RIGHT, SMILES DURING A MEN’S PRAYER GROUP AT THE ST. TIMOTHY CATHOLIC CHURCH IN LAGUNA NIGUEL ON SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2022. PHOTO BY DREW KELLEY/DIOCESE OF ORANGE
Msgr. John Urell was pastor at St. Timothy from 2008 until his retirement this past July. During that time, he engaged with Manna4Men in many levels.
“I was privileged to be there as a brother in the Lord, as pastor of the parish, and as one trying to deepen my faith in fellowship with the men of the parish,” Msgr. Urell said. “I always saw myself in that role. Sometimes I would lead the group but most of all, I met with the group, discussed with the group, prayed with the group and was part of the group.”
Manna4Men has been credited with many instances of change, transformation and healing.
“This group has seen many men have dramatic changes of heart, ‘metanoia’ and healings of life,” Kinsey said.
This has come about through numerous “breakthrough encounters.”
“One man said, ‘I finally understand who the Holy Spirit is and wept,’” recounted Kinsey.
“Another shared, ‘Finally I have male friends now that I trust that I can express my faith openly without judgement. That has made me a better man.’”
“One man’s wife told me, ‘What have you done to my husband? He has let go of his anger and our marriage is so much better now.’”
“I replied that I did nothing to your husband, God is the one who invites us into growth and change. Manna4Men just showed him how to listen.”
Currently, Manna4Men has been studying “What Does it All Mean?: A Guide to Being More Faithful, Hopeful and Loving” by the Australian Jesuit priest, author, educator and film critic, Fr. Richard Leonard, SJ.
The book was at the recommendation of Msgr. Urell before his retirement.
“I suggested Fr. Richard Leonard’s book because our women’s spirituality group had read it and enjoyed it,” said Msgr. Urell. “He is a very engaging writer, putting many issues into perspective so they can be easily discussed.”
When asked what he hopes readers will gain from his book, Fr. Leonard said, “I hope that people who read it will think more deeply about their own faith, and how the way they live their lives of hope, faith and love can be signs of amazing grace active here and now.”
For more information on Manna4Men, go to https://www.st-timsrc.org/adults/ or email [email protected].