Abramowicz drawn to give back what he received

It’s been more than 40 years since Danny Abramowicz caught a pass for the New Orleans Saints – think back to 1973, President Richard Nixon and a 62-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons – but he has maintained his youthful exuberance as a Catholic evangelist.

Abramowicz, who lives with his wife Claudia in a suburb of Chicago, just turned 69 last week. Following a deep, personal conversion, Abramowicz has spent most of last three decades encouraging Catholic men to become better fathers and spiritual role models.

“Men need to change,” said Abramowicz, who with Father Joe Krafft will lead a three-day Holy Spirit Men’s Retreat July 25-27 at Lumen Christi in Schriever, La., located in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. “That’s the problem today – male spirituality. If the Lord can change my life, anybody has a chance.”

Life in the fast lane
Abramowicz said he was raised in a great Catholic family and “knew right from wrong,” but his hard-earned athletic success triggered bad decisions and drinking binges that negatively affected his wife and three children.

“I was living in the fast and furious lane,” Abramowicz said. “Finally, on Dec. 15, 1981, and I woke up and was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I just asked the Lord, ‘Please help me.’ When you make that prayer, he will answer your prayer. I went to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) that evening, and I’ve never looked back since.”

Called to evangelize men
At first, Abramowicz said he was “sober but not serene.” But as he continued in his faith journey, he joined the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of New Orleans and helped found the Monday Night Disciples prayer group.

“My ministry is mainly to men,” Abramowicz said. “The Lord spoke to me, ‘Once you straighten out your life, I want you to evangelize Catholic men.’ It’s an ongoing process. It’s not just one conversion experience. There are multiple conversions that take place the rest of your life.”

In prayer and conversation with other Catholic men, Abramowicz felt drawn to share his joy and “to take it out to the world.”

“This pope is trying to tell us that,” Abramowicz said. “You have to get out with the people. It’s not so much what you say but what you do. It’s how you live your life. Do we have a smile for others, or do we have a stone face? How do we treat one another – with respect and dignity? We want to change this world. But you have to change individually before you can change collectively.”

Global reach
For the last five years, Abramowicz has shared his faith internationally through EWTN’s program, “Crossing the Goal.” The program also provides resources such as DVDs and study guides for men to use in small-group settings in their parishes. The information is available through www.crossingthegoal.com.

“It’s growing all over,” Abramowicz said.

For information on the retreat, which is sponsored by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of New Orleans, contact www.ccrno.org or call 828-1368.

Peter Finney Jr. can be reached at pfinney@clarionherald.org.

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