8th Anniversary of Croatian Men’s Breakfast
How great and good is our God! Who would have thought or believed that from mere humble beginnings such an abundance of good fruit would come from our monthly Croatian Men’s Group? What an honour it has been to watch this unfold, to meet amazing people, to see the hand of God working in people’s lives and to help others along the way.
It all began in early 2015 when the Knights decided to host monthly men’s breakfast’s aimed at bringing like-minded men together to develop friendships, grow in their Catholic faith and in turn create a positive impact in our families and society. This idea came to fruition in April of that same year, with the first meeting held in Zoki’s home. Subsequent meetings centred on a particular theme would then be held every last Sunday of each month. Starting off with breakfast together (the chef was really good back then) and prayer, we listened to inspirational talks and then held a group discussion. We had a collection every month where proceeds went to apostolic works and were distributed to those in dire need. After the meeting concluded with prayer, we would then leave to go to Sunday Holy Mass with our families in our own parishes.
The topic of that very first meeting was ‘Integrity’. At our second meeting, we raised $1,200 which went towards buying a cow for a very poor family in Croatia. This was one of the more memorable families that we have helped along the way. The theme of virtues then continued for almost another 3 years, well into 2018. We were averaging about 15 men per breakfast for those first fledgling years.
The year 2016 saw technology make its way into the group with the establishment of the first Whatsapp group to share information, prayers, good articles and inspirational stories. With a steady number of attendees, the time was ripe for making a change that would usher in the next step of growth for the group . After much prayer and discernment, it was decided to move the breakfast from “Zoki’s place” and bring it to the Croatian Church at Blacktown – “Fra Josip’s place”. The first meeting at the church was in Sept 2017. The number of attendees grew gradually over the next couple of years.
In the latter part of 2018, the Knights conceived another plan and brought their idea to the men attending the breakfast. The notion was put forward to the men that we hold a Croatian Men’s Conference, the first of its kind. The consensus was unanimous and the planning began for the first conference which was held in April 2019. This conference was clearly blessed by the Lord and each subsequent conference continues to be a source of much grace – we recently attended the fifth such conference – MC2023 “All in for Jesus”.
Since the advent of Croatian Men’s Conference, the number of people attending the breakfast has doubled. Men of all ages have been set on fire for the Lord and there was a lot of buzz going around about the gatherings. How great it was to have Our Lord in the centre of all our actions! The breakfast meeting room was getting too small so the group moved to the larger hall. Later that year we hosted special guests, notably General Glasnovic in October and some Vukovarski branitelji in November.
When the lock-downs hit, we did not allow them to stop us. We had to move three of our meetings to Zoom, which was somewhat unfortunate, but that quickly ended and we continued having our meetings in person. Before you knew it, it was 2020 and another great year was to be had. We launched the first Croatian Men’s EXODUS 90 initiative from 15 May 2020 – 13 Aug 2020, another blessing which has continued as a Lenten program each year since.
As a group, we consecrated ourselves to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in August 2020. We also launched the ‘Soldier of Christ Award’ and called for nominations for men who were living in Christ’s likeness. Svetko was our first recipient in 2020 for his gentleness and the inspirational manner in which he carries himself, followed in 2021 by father and son duo, Josip & Marko Furjanic, for their service to our Croatian Catholic Centre, and finally to Eddie Borovnjak in 2022, for always putting others first, especially in the final moments of his life on earth before he made his way towards Heaven. May he rest in eternal peace.
In January 2021 we launched the ‘Into the Breach – Knights of Colombus’ program which concluded in January 2022. In the September meeting, a picture was shown of men in Poland praying the rosary on their knees in public. Many posed the question – why don’t we do something similar?
The planning began and on Saturday 18th December 2021 the first Men’s Rosary Crusade was held outside of St Mary’s Cathedral. This prayer campaign has now continued to be held on the first Saturday of every month and the attendance numbers have been rising dramatically, with the largest one seeing approximately 400 men praying in formation on their knees. We had the joy of our Lord showering his blessings upon us with such great force that there was a torrential downpour that lasted the whole hour. The rain was so heavy at times that you could not hear the man next to you praying. The video of that day went viral around the world and inspired many more men to join us since.
2022 was a year of growth and further formation. The Rosary Crusade continued to flourish and the Men’s Breakfasts were seeing new members coming in, old and young alike. We had a memorable start with Charbel Raish as a guest speaker in Jan 2023 , and in Feb 2023 Father Damonn Sypher spoke on the theme ‘Carrying our Cross with Christ’. The funds raised from that day were to help a needy family in Croatia, Obitelj Krznarevic, and we managed to raise $2,105 at the breakfast. In addition, further donations were received after the breakfast, with the total raised AUD $4,025. This was sent directly to assist the family. At the time of writing this article, we humbly announce that we just received an anonymous donation in the amount of $10,000 which will also be sent to Obitelj Krznarevic and will assist them more than we could ever imagine.
This is the true meaning of what it means to be growing closer to Christ. It means nourishing ourselves with the Word of God, growing in our faith, being leaders in our communities, sharing with others what it means to be a man of God, and living this example in our daily lives. Helping others in whatever way we can, giving to the needy and poor, and providing spiritual guidance to all are also important elements of our witness as Catholic men. We do this not of ourselves, or for our own glory, but with the humility and docility that allow the Holy Spirit to work within us, for the love of God and the intention of both the material and spiritual good of our neighbour. Our Lord taught us that “where two or three are gathered together for my sake, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt 18: 20) – as a group with Christ at our centre, anything is possible and indeed, hope lives and miracles do happen. We just need to be open, trusting and willing. All we need is to say ‘yes’ when God calls us.
All praise and glory to God for our Men’s groups – see you at the next one!
Bog i Hrvati