Wayne Wellmeier is a Catholic in more than religious affiliation. He answered God’s call in 2009 to do something more in his faith and founded, with Glen Vega and John Ryan, the Men of Christ.
Already a member of the Men of MIR which promotes the Blessed Mother, Wellmeier said he and Vega had an inkling, while on a 2009 pilgrimage with Vega and the Sojourners to Medjugorje, that they deepen their faith even more.
“We both had a clear direction that the Lord would use us in a special direction when we got home,” Wellmeier said.
At that time, Wellmeier said he already was on a faith walk: praying the rosary, being a weekly adorer at St. Clement’s adoration chapel and a member of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement.
"Glen and I thought we were going to Medjugorje and would come back on fire for Men of MIR,” he said. “I heard pretty clearly in my heart that ‘when you get back home, you are going to have to go to daily Mass.’” He said those who did this “would have clear direction.”
As they became daily communicants, Wellmeier and Vega began seeing that they were in a different spiritual place than others. While on fire for the Lord, they were unclear where to go with their enthusiasm.
“I prayed about it … and was told that Glen was going to have to figure out what direction to take it,” Wellmeier said. “Glen thought of saving marriages and men’s woundedness from all of their relationships and how it affects the way we react to one another.”
Wellmeier knew there was something to this idea of men and woundedness and loving unconditionally. Vega searched for a priest who would guide their new ministry.
As fate would have it, Vega’s truck broke down in front of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in south Kenner, and he talked to Father Richard Miles, pastor, who agreed men needed this and encouraged them to start the ministry.
“He was supportive from the beginning,” Wellmeier said of Father Miles, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help became the home of the Men of Christ.
At the group’s first meeting in February 2010, more than 25 men attended.
“We were founded for the woundedness of men,” Wellmeier said. “Men need to talk about those wounds and heal those wounds.”
After a few weeks, the group realized wounds could only be discussed for so long before it becomes a pity party.
“Everybody is in a different place in their spiritual walk,” Wellmeier said. “You have to make a personal commitment to sacrifice and prayer and changing how you do things.”
Bible lessons were added to weekly meetings along with prayers to open and close meetings, and differences between the Catholics and non-Catholics in the group began causing roadblocks to prayer. The group soon became the Catholic Men of Christ prayer group and had a more scriptural base.
“To be a man of Christ you have to live the example, not just talk it,” Wellmeier said.
Readings at weekly meetings began being based on the themes of the Church’s daily Mass schedule.
“There’s always a message in it that strikes you,” Wellmeier said.
The group added service opportunities and has held healing services led by its spiritual director – Father Robert-Joel Cruz, a priest with the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux.
Vega, before he died in 2012, thought healing services were critical for men to receive the “power of the Holy Spirit.” Through the services, group members can cite individual graces from participating.
“One of the guys said it absolutely saved his marriage,” Wellmeier said. “A lot of guys have gone into a deeper phase of their faith.”
The Holy Spirit was at work at the Catholic Men of Christ Feb. 21 healing service at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. It was the first one opened to women, and the church was packed and participating joyfully in praise and worship before Father Cruz celebrated Mass, and he and his Pax Christi Healing Team conducted the healing service.
Wellmeier said the focus of the group is to help lead men of all ages back to Christ for healing using pillars of strength that include adherence to the sacraments, Scriptures, fasting and the rosary.
“We definitely hold each other accountable as Men of Christ,” member Ronnie Buras said. He started going to the group when he was separated from his wife and children, and he said it turned him around.
“I know I was broken and not seeing things correctly,” he said. “This gives me something to go to every week, to stay plugged in with Jesus on the right path. It has been a journey.”
Catholic Men of Christ men’s prayer group meets every Thursday at 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help’s Yenni Room, 1908 Short St., Kenner. A Men of Christ Lay Apostle ministry meets the first Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. to pray the luminous mysteries at St. Christopher the Martyr’s adoration chapel, 5900 Derbigny St., Metairie. Details: 650-6869. www.menofchrist.info.
Christine Bordelon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.