By Dave Jolivet, Anchor Editor
ASSONET, Mass. — There is a group of men from St. Bernard’s Parish in Assonet who, last weekend decided to ramp things up a bit.
The Men of St. Bernard’s is a fledgling parish organization that took flight only this past summer. One of the founders, Mike Faria, a former Grand Knight of the parish’s Knights of Columbus Council, told The Anchor that he and some other Knights were concerned about the four-year span between when a young man makes his Confirmation and age 18 when he can become a member of the Knights.
“We wanted these young men to have something to be a part of right after they make their Confirmation,” Faria said. “Since the parish has no youth group, and the Knights are a few years off, we asked our pastor, Father Mike Racine, if we could establish a new group for men from post-Confirmation age on. He was on board right away.
“Almost immediately, we had a core group of 30 individuals, including several teens who had recently been confirmed.”
The group meets monthly and the mission is to provide an organization for men of the parish, committed to the collective Spiritual growth and support of the parish.
“Mike Faria and some others approached me with this idea and I gave my blessing right away,” Father Racine told The Anchor. “It’s a nice group that is parish-oriented that wants to do social, Spiritual and communal outreach. It’s worked out well. There is a variety of men and young men, and it’s great to have the young people with us. Our last meeting was one of reflection, business and socializing.”
Last weekend was the group’s first official project. Knowing of an elderly gentleman in New Bedford who was in dire need of a handicap ramp for his home, the group became involved. On Saturday, several members of the Men of St. Bernard’s made the trek to the Whaling City to install a ramp to open up new opportunities for the gentleman.
“We had absolutely no money, but one of our members had a contact at a local lumber yard and was able to set up an account for us to pay the debt back within 30 days,” added Faria. “That’s why on the same day as the project, we held our first fund-raiser, strictly to raise money for the lumber used in the project.”
The fund-raiser was a meat pie supper at St. Bernard’s parish hall that evening. In another stroke of good fortune, one of the group’s member is a former culinary arts teacher, and he baked the meat pies.
“When we started the group, we didn’t want it to be about money,” Faria told The Anchor. “It was to have a group for post-Confirmation young men and up to gather together to assist the parish and build up our faith.”
“The group is not out to fill its treasury,” added Father Racine. “It wants to undertake projects to make life better for others, not for the recognition, but for what we’re called to do — be servants of Christ.”
“The main goal was to include the youth of our parish,” Faria told The Anchor. “We have a 19-year-old college freshman, Mark Mello, who has taken on the responsibility of becoming the group’s youth director. We would like to eventually see enough young men join the group that a new youth group can spawn from this.”
While some of the members of the Men of St. Bernard’s are Knights, it is not affiliated with the organization.
“We’re not in competition with the Knights,” said Faria, who himself is still a Knight. “We are a group that can work together with the Knights, and other parish groups to help support the pastor, parish and parishioners.
“It is great to have a post-Confirmation organization to provide the male youth of our parish an opportunity to remain involved in their Church.”
“This is a group of men with gifts and talents that can help the parish and others,” said Father Racine. “This will work out well. There’s a lot of good out there.”