BY ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD, THE WESTERN KENTUCKY CATHOLIC
It has been a long and stressful year for families – but a new initiative hopes to encourage men across western Kentucky to foster the light of Christ in their hearts and in the hearts of their families during the Advent season.
The initiative is called Dadvent – a combination of “dad” and “Advent.” It’s a virtual gathering of husbands and fathers that will take place each Sunday night of Advent to reflect on the Sunday readings and share in a time of fellowship together via video conference.
“What we hope is that in this crazy year that is 2020, that we can slow down as dads and prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas,” said Wade Gaynor, whose family belongs to St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro, and who helped brainstorm for Dadvent.
Gaynor said it’s easy to wake up on December 26 and have “missed Christmas,” realizing that “I didn’t prepare my heart for any of this.”
Dadvent’s goal is to “provide a way for men to lead their families,” said Gaynor.
Aaron Carrico, whose family also attends St. Stephen Cathedral, helped organize Dadvent and looks forward to “men across the diocese being encouraged to be leaders.”
Carrico has been a teacher for 15 years and works with an at-risk population of young people. He called the crisis of fatherhood among these youth “an emergency – it’s a crisis that young people, especially boys, are being raised without a father and an active male role model in their life.”
“Church attendance is down – across denominations and the country – because dads are not involved, and definitely are not leading their families, especially with Christ and their faith,” he said.
Dadvent will pull themes from each of the Sunday readings, but the overall goal is to strengthen homes, families and marriages by focusing on the model of St. Joseph.
Danny May, director of the Diocese of Owensboro’s Office of Marriage and Family Life, has been working with Charlie Hardesty, director of the diocese’s Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry to promote Dadvent to parishes, men’s groups and Knights of Columbus councils.
May is also the one who coined the term “Dadvent” when discussing Advent opportunities with several coworkers.
He said Dadvent will begin promptly at 8 p.m. with a welcome and opening prayer, followed by a short reflection by a diocesan priest. Participants will then be broken into small discussion “rooms” and then gather back as a whole group for a guided, silent prayer before ending with a call to action for the upcoming week.
Keeping in mind the men’s family and time commitments, the goal will be for Dadvent to end within an hour.
Additionally, the virtual platform will make the initiative available to men across western Kentucky, not just limited to Owensboro.
“This is a way to involve the whole diocese,” said May, adding that the four priests who will be sharing scripture reflections are from the four corners of the diocese.
They are Fr. Brandon Williams (St. Leo Parish, Murray), Fr. John Thomas (Holy Spirit Parish, Bowling Green), Fr. Richard Meredith (Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Hopkinsville), and Fr. Randy Howard (St. Agnes Parish, Uniontown).
Carrico said he hopes Dadvent will inspire participants to start men’s groups of their own, or even join existing men’s groups at their parishes.
He added that it is called “Dadvent” but that he would invite “no matter your state in life, any man – we’re all called to be fathers whether we’re biological fathers or not.”
Join husbands and fathers from across the diocese for Dadvent 2020!
There is no cost, but organizers ask men to pre-register for Dadvent 2020 at https://bit.ly/3kTFfED so they can email the access link to participants for security reasons. For questions, contact Danny May in the Office of Marriage & Family Life, (270) 683-1545 or [email protected].
Originally printed in the December 2020 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.
Copyright © 2020 Diocese of Owensboro/The Western Kentucky Catholic