Fraternus group mentors Catholic men of all generations

TAYLORS—A parish in a thriving suburb of the Greenville Deanery has started a ministry that has drawn the attention of others around them.

Paul Pizzuti and Thomas Connelly, both parishioners at Prince of Peace Church, recently formed the first Fraternus chapter in the diocese ( Older men, called captains, and young men, referred to as brothers, gather at the church’s activity center every Wednesday night during the school year for 90 minutes of recreation, food, friendly competitions, reflection on their faith, and prayer.

On a recent evening, the captains and brothers mixed it up in games of basketball and dodgeball, shared a meal, watched a video on the cardinal virtue of fortitude, heard a man share his story related to that virtue, and talked about living their lives with fortitude. The night ended with evening prayer from the Breviary and chanting the Salve Regina.

Started in 2007 in Florida, Fraternus brings together young men between sixth and 12th grades with mentors from age 18 and up — fathers, uncles, grandfathers and even great-grandfathers.

“One of the key ingredients with Fraternus is the inter-generationality,” said Connelly, who also works with the national organization. The wide age range among the mentors “allows the boys to see what it means to be a Catholic man in all different stages of life.”

On the other side, mixing the middle schoolers with the high schoolers “allows the younger guys to look up to the older ones and the older ones to step up and be good examples for their younger brothers,” Connelly said.

The sessions each week are structured around the four cardinal and three theological virtues, he explained, devoting four weeks to each of the seven virtues.

Pizzuti, who is a financial planner, said he and the rest of the captains benefit as much, if not more so, from the interaction with the younger men, especially during the breakout sessions, or what are referred to as “squad time.”

“The squad time is our opportunity to not only mentor with the boys, but also they share things that we learn from,” Pizzuti said. “Many of these guys are virtuous young men who are motivating to me, as well.”

Pizzuti and Connelly each praised Fathers Christopher Smith and Richard Tomlinson, pastor and parochial vicar at Prince of Peace, for their support in establishing a Fraternus chapter in the parish.

Recently, the members participated in a Mass at the church, where they received a blessing from Father Smith to live in Christ-like virtue and brotherhood.

Nationally, Fraternus, which is Latin for fraternal or brotherly, currently includes around 900 participants from 24 chapters in nine states. This includes three at parishes in Charlotte. Last fall, men from the Greenville Deanery attended a Fraternus gathering in Charlotte.

Miscellany/Terry Cregar: John Sudnick receives prayerful support from fellow captains during a Fraternus gathering at Prince of Peace Church in Taylors.