Pillars of Christ do God’s work at dawn

GREENVILLE — The sky was just beginning to lighten downtown as 30 men trooped into St. Mary Church on Friday morning, May 6. The men are the Pillars of Christ, a parish ministry first suggested by parishioner John C. Heuser.

“John’s vision was that men, particularly fathers, need guidance, a spiritual life of their own. We meet in the morning to accommodate their families,” said Deacon George Tierney.

The Pillars of Christ have been meeting and praying and reading the Bible together for more than a year.

“Our day-to-day lives are so hectic, it’s important to keep things in perspective,” Member Harry deJong said. “This allows us to share life experiences with other men of the Catholic faith. It always makes my day better.”

Each meeting consists of a Scripture reading and discussion questions. About every sixth week, as on May 6, the meeting involves a presentation by an expert. The group viewed a videotaped presentation by theologian Chris West about Pope John Paul’s encyclical “Theology of the Body.” West is a seminary professor, writer and lecturer.

Chris Stansberry arranged West’s presentation. He appreciates the diversity of the men who make up the Pillars of Christ and the common attention to spiritual matters among the participants.

“This is a real interesting group. We have laborers, professionals, lawyers, surgeons, entrepreneurs, civil employees, professors — a real melting pot,” Stansberry said. “While our background is diverse, we’re all running the race set before us, with our eternal destiny held as the prize for us and our families.”

That destiny relies on surviving spiritually in what he calls a pervasive, sinful culture. He said that it’s a matter of discernment and direction.

“That’s why the Pillars of Christ is so important,” Stansberry said. “It helps me form my mind, so I can leave here and live my life better.”

For direction, the men have discussions among themselves in small, confidential groups using two major resources, the Bible and the “Catechism of the Catholic Church.” They also use a workbook, “Signposts,” which offers discussion topics and questions with references.

The Pillars of Christ believe that what they undertake early in the morning is doing God’s work.