Building the King’s Men

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The King's Men ministry began in 2004 when three men, Tony Luna, Damian Wargo and Mark Houck, talked about chastity after a Philadelphia Theology on Tap meeting. The topic of the evening was Pope John Paul II's "Theology of the Body," a series of talks given at weekly Vatican audiences.

The speaker for the evening was Catholic author Christopher West, and the men started a dialogue on men's accountability. Luna, Wargo and Houck continued to meet to discuss sexual integrity. The concept developed, and in 2006, the King's Men was founded and eventually grew nationwide and internationally.

Rick Crete is the man who keeps the King's Men group running at Sacred Heart Church in Manassas. The group, which meets in the chapel, has been active for almost three years and has a mailing list of 32. Between eight and 15 men will show up for the weekly Monday evening meeting.

There were eight men at the May 18 meeting: Crete, Jack Kapp, Mike Shea, Michael Hatheway, William Douglass, Joe Gilley, Jordan Thibodeaux and Mike Herrick. All are parishioners of Sacred Heart except Thibodeaux, a parishioner of All Saints Church in Manassas, and Hatheway, a parishioner of St. Mark Church in Vienna.

The meetings last about 90 minutes and always begin with the rosary. Men bring their own, or can take one from a hook by the chapel door.

After the rosary, the men discuss spiritual and life topics, generally picked from a Catholic book. For this meeting, Crete picked topics from Signposts: How to be a Catholic Man in the World Today by Tim Sullivan and Bill Bawden.

Questions are posed and discussed.

"Have you had a time when your Christian values have helped you in the workplace?"

Douglass said, "God is intimately involved in our lives," so there is opportunity to use your faith to help or guide.

"Is it OK to hold the truth from a person?"

That generated more questions than answers.

"Is it always good to speak your mind?"

"Sometimes we confuse truth with speaking our minds," said Thibodeaux.

"What do you do when your adult daughter comes home with her live-in boyfriend?"

The response was swift and unanimous - it's your house and they must show you respect.

Topics were personal.

The final part of the meeting was sharing progress with plans made from the previous meeting, and planning for the next.

Topics varied from success in reading and listening to spiritual books and CDs, to practicing a daily devotion and meeting with a spiritual director.

Hatheway summed up the group's hopes and plans.

"Listen to the word of God, and be diligent in your vocation as husband and father."

The common thread among the men was that this group would be a community of men who could share with each other.

"I get together with like-minded men to reinforce, share ideas and challenges and find solutions," said Shea.

Douglass said that he felt a need to build a community, and "the church thrives on small communities."

Douglass added that the men in this group are great models of Christian men.

When the meeting ended, the men left the chapel knowing that they had other men they could count on for spiritual and life guidance.

The King's Men is one of many groups in the Arlington Diocese. One of the largest is "That Man is You," with nine parishes hosting groups, including St. Veronica Church in Chantilly and Blessed Sacrament Church in Alexandria.

Many parishes have their own men's group that brings like-minded men into a community of prayer and spirituality.

Church of the Nativity in Burke has a Men's Prayer and Reflection group that meets weekly on Saturday morning at the church. Founder Greg LaNave said that there is a core group of about 10 men. He stresses that the group is not a study group, but a "camaraderie of guys," trying to grow deeper in their faith and who appreciate being around other men who have the same goal.

Holy Spirit Church in Annandale has a core group of about 10 men who meet on the third Saturday of the month. The group is facilitated by Deacon Nicholas J. LaDuca.

There are many more in the diocese, all trying to fulfill the need for a community of like-minded men.

Borowski can be reached at dborowski@catholicherald.com or on Twitter @DBorowskiACH.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015