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The Mackay Men’s Dinner Club

22 July, 2021

Reports of the Mackay Men’s Dinner Club have featured in these e-newsletters from the beginning.  Faithfully each month (except for the time of Covid), Graham Featherstone has sent in his report along with photos.  Nathan Harding, from the Bishop’s Office was last month’s speaker and was very impressed with the men he met that night.  His report is a moving testament to this group of friends, this band of brothers.  Graham’s regular report follows.

Nathan Harding’s account of his time with the Mackay Men’s Dinner Club

Longevity, friendship and fellowship. That’s what I encountered when I joined the Mackay Men’s Dinner Club last month. These men have been meeting for dinner on the last Monday of every month for almost three decades. They have been meeting for almost as long as I‘ve been alive. What do you say to a room full of men who have walked this earth for nearly twice or three times the amount you have? How would I be received?

Well, the reception, as soon as I walked into the room, I was greeted with warmth, acceptance and immediately brought into each table’s conversation as I made my way around the room. I realised this is not a room with pretence but one of openness, warmth and fellowship for all who walk in. This is family, our family. It is one of the riches of our Diocese that we are one body with many geographical parts.

Graham Featherstone, one of the key leaders of the group, invited me to speak on any topic that I wanted to. Pope Francis having declared 2021 as the Year dedicated to Saint Joseph, I decided to speak about family heritage, what is passed down from a father to a son, one specific thing I caught from my father about what it meant to be a man, which was reinforced by two men I met while travelling in Iraq some years ago.

In his proclamation of the Year of Saint Joseph in his Apostolic Letter Patris Corde Pope Francis said:

“our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked. People who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines, or on the latest television show … How many are praying, making sacrifices and interceding for the good of all”. Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble. Saint Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation. A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them all”.

These dignifying words fit the men I met in that room and indeed all of us in many ways. In fact, for all of us, how we have chosen to live out our lives have been subtly directed or put on a course from the small everyday habits of our father, mother and those other primary carer givers who impact our impressionable years.

I wondered with the men at the dinner what it was that Jesus had picked up from St Joseph about what it meant to be a man. Pope Francis gives us a list of such things. One such example is he,’ had the courage to become the legal father of Jesus’ and take on all the responsibility that would come with this despite that Jesus was not biologically speaking, his natural responsibility.

This is what I saw in my father, that to be a man meant to take on responsibility for oneself and then as you learn to take responsibility for yourself you will be equipped take on more responsibility in life and then for others and for those whose vocation calls for it, a family.

I described the story of a Priest I had met in Iraq. He demonstrated taking on the responsibilities of a spiritual father for his parishioners. This he continued to do even when that responsibility saw him face the possibility of death at the hands of ISIS.

The last reflection at the end of the talk was musing about how the life of St Joseph had impacted Christ’s life. Surely Saint Joseph’s impact on the life of Christ must have had some part to play in how Christ took on the responsibility of not just his own life, but in how he took on the weight of the responsibility for the sin of the world.

Graham Featherstone, Fr Jayanthi, Fr Alex, Fr Sijo and Nathan Harding

Graham’s Report

Our members gathered for the Monthly dinner on Monday 28th June. Kevin our chairman opened the dinner with the prayer to Mary McKillop and Fr Alex said grace. Our secretary Rex gave his usual informative message for the reflection. Nathan Harding from the Diocesan office was our guest speaker. He gave an excellent description of various events in his life that inspired him, including a trip to Iraq. Many questions were asked by members. Members enjoyed talking personally to Nathan before and after the dinner. Above is a full description of his talk.

Our next dinner is on Monday 30th August. Our guest speaker is Father Alex Varghese, Walkerston Parish Priest. Visitors are always welcome also guest speakers.