Viri Dei: Spreading message as ‘Men of God’
“There’s no strong leadership at home,” he said. “They won’t get it at school. The dad needs to be the leader in the family and this will help these kids on the right path.”
In 2015, he started holding group meetings for local men, which steadily drew about 12 members. When he expanded the invitation to the West Bank this summer to the meetings, 65 men attended the first meeting that led to a steady 45 members.
Called Viri Dei (Men of God), Fabre said the group was apparently addressing a need so much so that they are expanding the invitation parishwide.
The group meets every Friday at 5:30 a.m. – 7 a.m. at the St. Anthony’s church. The meeting begins with group discussion, prayer, an instructional video based on the “That Man is You” Program and breakout groups.
When they complete the program on Dec. 14 in Luling, they’ll start their next semester in January at Holy Family Catholic Church.
Fabre said they plan on rotating the program’s location per semester at other Catholic churches in the parish to “take it on the road and offer it to as many churches on the West Bank that we can get to.”
Expanding their reach isn’t the only focus of Viri Dei.
“I don’t want to just be meeting and going home,” Fabre said. “I want them to be seen in the community as part of evangelization as a church. That is one of the major goals with the church … is to evangelize.”
As a founding member of the group, Charlie Bush of Luling agreed with Fabre’s concerns about today’s societal problems.
“We’re in ‘culture death,’” Bush said. “We actually believe that breakdown of the family is the problem with our society today and, consequently, that’s why we formed this group.”
As an example, he singled out too many single mothers lacking father figures.
But Bush welcomes Viri Dei’s leadership program, which he also feels is timely for building leadership in men.
“The group has grown tremendously and we invite all the men of St. Charles Parish,” he said.
Member Michael Madere said Father Anthony Odiong’s spiritual guidance brought him to the group.
“I have learned that when you encounter a faithful and courageous deciple of Jesus, you take every opportunity available to learn from that person. It is also a great opportunity to be encouraged in my faith by praying with other men who hold each other accountable as we strive to grow in virtue and holiness.”
Madere quoted scripture, “Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
Also agreeing with the need noted by Fabre and Bush, Madere pointed to a lack of male spiritual leadership in the community and the world as reason for forming Viri Dei.
“We are often so preoccupied with our work, hobbies and other pursuits that we fail to commit to forming our families and community in faith, and thus families and marriages are suffering.”
Madere said he views Viri Dei’s role as one that helps men recommit to Christ and to making God and his church the first priority.
Don Montgomery, also of Luling, joined the group on Bush’s urging because he also agreed with the need.
“It looked like you need something for men, more on the spiritual line, and this program is excellent to make men think, act like men and, instead of sitting back, becoming a leader,” Montgomery said. “The family unit is deteriorating. The men either don’t go to church or let women do all of it. This says, ‘Be a man and do your part.’”