Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Members come and go, but Men’s Bible Study continues at Assumption

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the July 3, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)

A men’s study group at Assumption Parish in Spokane has been meeting weekly for 18 years. The numbers have fluctuated, pastors have come and gone and one of the group’s founders has died. But the men continue to meet, to learn about their Christian faith and to share their lives in the process.

The group began in 1985 with Dan Carney and the late Bill Holefelder who would meet to “share God’s word.” Their hope was to reach the men of the parish and to “better understand the Bible.” Soon five or 10 men met early in the morning in the teachers’ lunchroom at Assumption School. They would watch a video that explained the readings for each Sunday’s Mass and then discuss the readings and how it was pertinent to their lives.

The men decided to study the Bible and Carney asked Bishop Lawrence Welsh how best to begin. The bishop recommended they start with the Gospel of Luke and gave them a book with explanations of the readings and discussion questions. What was important, Carney said, was that the readings were related to help participants “see their relevance to the events of today.”

That has been the pattern for the group’s sessions ever since. They usually alternate study of the Old and New Testaments and appreciate those members who “study a lot and can offer many insights.”

They prefer to study Scripture and have gone through the books of the Bible twice, but occasionally they study other works. Last May the men used Poor Clare Sister Patricia Proctor’s book, 101 Stories of the Rosary. They read and discussed the stories and then prayed the rosary to end the meeting. Currently they are studying the book of Jeremiah.

The men also make annual retreats. Their first was in 1989, at the home of Deacon Hugh Polensky in Usk, with a theme of “God sees our goodness no matter what.” Deacon Polensky, now director of chaplaincy services at Sacred Heart Medical Center, was a member of the group for several years.

Their retreat this year was held at St. Joseph Family Center. Father Mike Savelesky, Assump-tion’s pastor, was retreat master. He spoke on the theme “The Holy Spirit and how we call the Holy Spirit into our lives,” which Carney said they found to be of great benefit. Bishop William Skylstad gave a retreat for the group in 1996. From 20-25 men attend the retreats.

Eventually social outreach became a part of the group’s activities. In 1992 Carney met a Religious Sister from Uganda, and he invited her to give a talk to the group. She ran an orphanage in Uganda and said any money the men could give “would greatly help” them.

The men agreed to lend assistance, and since that talk, have donated over $700 to the orphanage. They have also given Christmas presents to the less fortunate in such places as St. Vincent de Paul and the House of Charity.

There is an ecumenical aspect to the group as they host speakers from other faiths. Carney said that members of the Jewish community have given talks to their group, which “we really enjoyed,” he said.

Most important, though, is that the men share their lives through their study, which “deepens their faith and their love as Christ’s people.” Currently there are about 28 members with attendance at the weekly sessions ranging from 17 to 19 men.

Membership has changed as people moved from the parish, sometimes to their heavenly home. Founding member Holefelder died of cancer in 1989, and other members have also died. Nevertheless, the Bible study has become an important part of the men’s spiritual growth and interest remains strong.

All interested men are welcome to attend the Bible study which continues to meet at Assumption on Saturday mornings. To be Catholic is not required; occasionally Protestant men join the group. Call Carney at (509) 327-2047 for more information.

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