I had the privilege of traveling to Prairie Star Ranch in Williamsburg, Kansas to help out with the 2016 F.I.R.E. Men’s Retreat. I was invited to help out with confessions on Saturday evening, but I arrived there Saturday morning to participate in the activities and interact with the 90 men attending the retreat.
When I first arrived, the men had broken into their small group teams and were scattered across the beautiful camp. I was drawn to the cheers and words of encouragement shouted by those climbing the “Power Pole.” Wearing safety harnesses, men would pair up and climb the pole to get to the narrow platform at the top. While standing on the top platform, the pole would wobble a little from side to side.
Once at the top of the pole, with both partners standing side by side, they would make a synchronized leap to the trapeze looking horizontal bar, which was about 8 feet in front of them. Both partners tried to grab a hold of the bar at the same time.I had to change out of my monastic habit in order to suit up and try out this team challenge. I paired up with one of the staff members and we were able to climb to the top. I climbed first, with relative ease (I always liked climbing things). I climbed first and situated myself on the top of the pole platform. The pole shook as my teammate climbed to the top. Once we got ourselves balanced on the platform together, we made the countdown…1…2…3…JUMP! We leaped for the bar. I grabbed hold of it and held on, but my partner’s grip slipped and he was suspended in air by his harness.
Above: Two participates fail to make the leap
Below: A group of the men watch on.After lunch we went for a 2 hour hike, praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary along the way.
At one station, before the third mystery, the group was invited to make a crown of thorns and carry it with us.
We had Eucharistic Adoration and the opportunity for the priests and staff to pray over the men.Below: Archbishop Naumann made a special appearance and visited with the men in the evening.
Below: No, it wasn’t an angry mob of villagers. Real men do the Stations of the Cross with torches!