WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Men attending the Men of Integrity conference at Holy Trinity Church in Stony Plain/Spruce Grove watch some of their peers go through a physical workout at the back of the church.
WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Jack Fatica is head of Hard as Nails Ministry.
Justin Fatica of Syracuse, N.Y., wouldn't ask his son John Paul to die on the cross for anybody. "That's because my faith is weak and my family isn't there yet either," he said to a group of about 500 men Feb. 8.
"But God, our Father, loved us so much, had so much faith in mankind that he allowed his Son to go through the agony of the cross.
"Who can do that? I couldn't do it but God is asking us to have that much faith. I'm not there yet either, but that's where we have to get."
Fatica is a preacher like few. He shouts his messages and sometimes he jumps up and down screaming. He is known as a youth leader, but on Feb. 7-8 he spoke to grown men and youths about becoming the men God has called them to be.
Fatica, leader of a non-profit organization called Hard as Nails Ministries, was the keynote speaker for Men of Integrity, an annual retreat for men put on by Catholic Family Ministries.
The father of four found Christ at the age of 17, on a Saturday afternoon when he stepped out of Confession. That moment planted the seeds for what he believes is his mission - to grab the attention of young people and spread the Catholic faith.
While he acknowledges that he is "not the smartest tool in the shed," he believes that he has been chosen to preach Catholicism to young and old in his own way.
A graduate of Seton Hall University, Fatica went on to teach at Catholic schools before becoming one of the founders and directors of ministry for Hard as Nails. The organization's vision is to bring the message of Jesus Christ "in intense and dynamic ways."
In 2007 Hard as Nails Ministry was the subject of an HBO documentary that portrayed Fatica as an intense and passionate minister. He has also been featured on Good Morning America, ABC Nightline and Sirius Radio.
"Jesus said, 'I am the one, I am the truth and I am the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Who has questions about the faith? If you have no questions, you have no faith," he shouted, saying "the questions will lead to great faith."
Faith, he said, is the realization of what is hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. "What are you doing that you don't see tomorrow that you believe today?"
Jesus' results when he was on earth were stinky, according to Fatica. "It's the truth, but it was after he was done (that the results came to shine)."
He said we have to take issues of faith and family and put them before God. He also urged his audience to believe the ABCs of Christianity: "A: admit you need God. B: believe he can do the impossible and C: commit to it."
The reason Fatica is on the road day in and day out is because there is a need to evangelize.
"Why is our Catholic faith so prominent in the world?" he asked. "The Catholic faith is still alive because of Jesus."
When Fatica asked "How many of you would be a mess without JC and the Catholic faith?" everyone in the audience stood up. "We all believe this. So why do we say sometimes that we don't deserve this faith?
"Everybody does. God loves everyone – atheists, and agnostics, Muslims, Hindus and Jews. We are all children of God. That's what I believe. I'm not here to judge what you do. I'm here to tell you that God loves us no matter what. If an atheist choses God, he'll get it. God is for all nations, all people."
We are all God's kids, insisted Fatica. "I want all people to love God's kids."
Sometimes God's children become addicts but that's no reason to stop loving them. "Don't let anybody tell you that God isn't proud of you. You have a Father in heaven that's proud of you." And he said God's love will take us to heaven.
Fatica asked everybody to commit to three things they think they can't do. "Faith is about doing the impossible. Working out is one of them."
He wakes up early in the morning for his early workout. "You think this is fun? This is miserable but it helps. When you believe in your faith, you have to make a commitment," he said.
"Real men never quit. You are going to make these three commitments and beat yourself up for the rest of your life if you don't do them or you are going to say, 'OK, I failed. I'll get back up and do them again.'
"Jesus fell three times and he moved forward. The prize for this is your faith, your family and your well-being."
Then he called forth 10 volunteers and did a 10-minute workout in the back of the sanctuary.
After that, he read some of the anonymous commitments that men made: One vowed to stop being lazy for his family, another vowed to end a relationship that wasn't going the right way. "I'll fight for my family," promised another. "I commit to fighting my homosexual thoughts," said yet another.
Fatica started working out after he failed in his commitment to stop masturbating. When he messed up, he went to Confession.
"You need to work out for your penance," the Hungarian priest to him. "That's the worst thing he ever did. I started working out when I was 21 because of my lustful heart."
"Why are you sharing this? I'm called to be rejected, to be courageous, to be authentic and to be obedient to God."
Maurice Blanchette from near Peace River liked Fatica's message but not his style, which he described as bullish. In his world, Blanchette said, "we don't talk like this."
Greg Schiller, however, was elated with Fatica who "brings an evangelical passion to our Church."