Last year, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted called men of the diocese to action with his apostolic exhortation, “Into the Breach.” Since then, this movement has spread throughout the diocese and beyond.
“Into the Breach,” published on Sept. 29, 2015, not coincidentally the Feast of the Archangels, called attention to various breaches in the culture, as well as breaches in the family and interior breaches, and challenged men of faith to band together as brothers and step into those breaches.
Into the Breach
Click here for more information on BishopThomas J. Olmsted’s apostolic exhortation.
Click here for other resources, including a free download of “Forward! Into the Breach,” a workbook and study guide to the “Into the Breach.”
“I’ve been amazed by the enthusiastic reception that it’s received in our own diocese, but also beyond our diocese and even beyond the United States, so there’s something that the Holy Spirit is doing right now in the Church that seems to be articulated in that document,” said Bishop Olmsted. “I think the Holy Spirit is asking us to move into a deeper appreciation that we’re involved in a real spiritual battle and that men are called to engage this battle with the help of God with confidence, with trust in God’s grace, but also with courage, and together with other men.”
Locally, parish groups have studied the document and organized retreats based on it, said Mike Phelan, director of the diocesan Office of Marriage and Respect Life, who worked closely with Bishop Olmsted in drafting the exhortation.
Michael Garibaldi, director of evangelization and catechesis for St. Joan of Arc Parish, organized one of those retreats several months ago for a group of 35-40 men. Talks were given based off of the different sections of the exhortation. Garibaldi said he wanted the retreat to address “what it means to be a man and explain this idea of what a man needs spiritually and how a man can affect those in his family and his parish.”
“If the men are evangelized and challenged as apostles and disciples, then it’s likely that the families will follow,” Garibaldi said. “I’ve seen certain men step up more as a result of this program.”
At the retreat, participants were separated into “platoons,” and after the retreat ended, each platoon was assigned to pray and fast for one day a week for something specific in the culture. For example, one platoon would pray on Mondays for those addicted to pornography, while another prayed on Thursdays for rampant fatherlessness.
Additionally, the annual diocesan men’s conference used it as a theme this past year and will continue the theme for two more. For his part, Phelan personally gives a copy to Catholic men coming to him for marriage preparation.
“While we were asking the men to focus on the interior breach the first year, where the devil’s attacking them in their spiritual lives, the next conference is going to be focused on the next level of breach, which is marriage, family and the parish, and all the breaches we experience there,” said Phelan. “The third year of the conference will focus on the cultural breaches, the breaches that are all around us, and thinking about ways that we as Catholic men can really engage and deal with some of those.”
Beyond the diocese, the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council republished “Into the Breach” as part of its “Veritas” catechetical series and is promoting it among its 1.9 million members worldwide. They’ve also translated it into every language spoken in countries with Knights. The King’s Men has incorporated it as part of its program and the Knights of the Immaculate are distributing it among their members, too.
Excitement for the exhortation has spread to the Archdiocese of Washington, where Tony Castellano, the volunteer men’s coordinator at his parish, wrote a study guide to accompany the exhortation called “Forward! Into the Breach.”
His pastor asked him to create an appropriate follow up to the parish’s That Man Is You spring session.
“I was in prayer asking what to do. The Lord laid on my heart, ‘What are you complaining about? Bishop Olmsted did all the work; all you have to do is to put it in a way that men will receive it,”
He divided it into 13 sections, reflected on what the bishop wrote and wrote questions for each section. He also added text boxes with tidbits of related information. After receiving approval from the Diocese of Phoenix to write the study guide, Bishop Olmsted wrote the foreword.
“It was the final touch and approval,” Castellano said.
The study guide is now available as a free download, along with an accompanying seminar presentation.
“We really wanted it to be something that called men to action — to not just have good thoughts, but to take decisive action first of all in their own daily lives, with daily prayer, with prayer in their families, weekly Sunday Mass, regular examination of your conscience every day and regular confession, just kind of practical things,” said Bishop Olmsted. “But to take action in that way, because if we’re doing that every day, we’ll be ready for bigger battles because we’re fighting the daily battle of trying to put aside things that are not of God and to really live in Christ.”
Bishop Olmsted also emphasized his call that men find “bands of brothers” to help them in that journey. “It’s confirming that exhortation to not try to do this by yourself, but to believe that iron sharpens iron, that we do help sharpen one another’s understanding of who we are as beloved sons of God and encouraging one another to live that reality.”