A Return to Don Bosco’s Oratory

A Society for a Good Read

By Mr. Luca Sala

Many young men between the ages of approximately 18 and 30 find themselves in a sort of limbo as to how they fit in at their local parish. They're in their final years of youth ministry, too old for altar serving, and too young for membership in traditional men's groups, which usually cater to an older crowd (if such groups exist at all.) But these years are the most formative for young Catholic men. It is the age at which the modern Catholic man seriously discerns his vocation and asks himself, “Am I called to marriage, the priesthood, the consecrated life, or another way of life?” But that decision is made exponentially more difficult when there is a lack of other young men with whom to discuss these topics. The irony is that each parish has many young men who crave this companionship—a brotherhood that can be young and lighthearted when need be (as young men should be), and a resource where young men can empathize with each other. Yet there are often no initiatives nor means to get them together.

This was the case at St. Benedict Parish in Etobicoke, ON, when the young men decided to create an impromptu “book club.” They were all part of the youth ministry; however, they wanted an outlet to discuss their experiences and opinions amongst themselves. What began as a group of six or seven young men gathering to read excerpts from a book, has tripled its original size to discuss a new topic each Monday. Founded by pre-novice Lorenzo D’Alessando and currently led by newly-ordained Salesian priest Fr. Branden Gordon, the group, now called “A Society for a Good Read” (a rift on St. John Bosco’s “A Society for a Good Time”), meets weekly to discuss topics researched and curated by Fr. Branden. The topics we’ve discussed so far include the creation and fall of humankind, the interior life, Eucharistic miracles, and Marian apparitions.

We begin each session with an abbreviated form of Evening Prayer and every other session is accompanied by either adoration or Mass, as well as opportunities to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation.

The Society for a Good Read has already borne fruit. The group now has about 25 men between the ages of 18 and 30. One member said: “Growing up, you definitely felt forced to socialize with the other kids your age at church. Everyone is choosing to come here, and that’s what makes it great. We want to be here.” Another member commented: “I never thought that there were guys my age who take their faith so seriously. It’s inspiring to see a bunch of young men striving to be holy in their ordinary lives. I don’t have to look 500 years back to a saint to relate to—I can now look across the table and see someone just like me, striving for the same goal: Heaven.” A new member remarked: “I have been praying the past months to find a group of Catholics my age to help me grow in my faith, and it was awesome to be introduced to this group of guys.” His response struck me the most and was also the most succinct. When I mentioned in passing that it’s great to get together with the guys on Mondays, my friend’s countenance became serious—sincere: “It’s more than that. This is something — it’s becoming something. This is a community.” This explains the Society for a Good Read at its core: a community of men who are not only striving to each be saints, but are helping each other along the way.

If you’re interested in starting a chapter of The Society for a Good Read at your parish, school, or youth center and would like to have access to the content, please email Fr. Branden Gordon, SDB.

May 16, 2024 - 8:30am

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