Profile in Stewardship - Kevin Lynch
Kevin Lynch, one of the Co-founders of the Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Greater Cincinnati in 1986, has been a member of St. Gertrude Parish for many years. He served as President of the Cincinnati Fellowship for many years and was Coordinator of the “ANSWER THE CALL” Men’s Conferences for nine years.
Kevin helped establish the National Fellowship of Catholic Men in 1999 and recently retired as the Chief Executive and Trustee of that organization following 10 years of service. He is now stepping down from his leadership of the Parish-based Catholic Men’s Fellowship group at St. Gertrude after several years at the helm. We decided to sit down with Kevin and learn what led to him to help establish the Catholic men’s movement, in Cincinnati and nationally, and why he devoted 25 years of his life to it.
What does the Catholic Men’s Fellowship aim to do?
The Fellowship’s focus is to encourage: (1) a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (2) men’s spirituality in a Roman Catholic context, and 3) fellowship as the unique ministry of the movement.
Looking back, did you think the Fellowship would grow as widespread as it did?
We were focused on trying to bring Catholic men together here in Cincinnati and not thinking beyond that. The idea of calling Catholic men together to pray, share and support one another in small groups was a pretty novel idea 25 years ago. Our Protestant brothers easily “fellowshipped” (as they called it) and, in fact, it was often integrated into their worship services. Attendance at Mass, as vital as that was too our spiritual lives, was often seen as enough among many Catholic men.
Our Vision sees small pockets of men, meeting in Parishes, linked as Brothers in Jesus Christ so as to prayerfully – and unconditionally – support one another. To raise awareness and create excitement, we organized massive gatherings of Catholic men under the “ANSWER THE CALL” banner. Those events began right here at St. Gertrude in 1995, when Fr. Clem Burns was Pastor, and he hosted the very first Catholic Men’s Conference. We had to turn men away at that initial gathering as the Parish Center was overflowing!
During our peak years, over 10,000 men gathered for a day, in many of the large venues around Cincinnati, to hear nationally recognized speakers. We celebrated Holy Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation with our local Archbishop, area Bishops and over 100 Priests and Deacons. It was awe inspiring to see thousands of men witnessing to their Catholic faith. Our Cincinnati community took notice, as did many cities around the U. S., and this movement took off.
Has your vision for this ministry been realized? If so, how?
I would say it is a “work in process” as the Holy Spirit continues to call Catholic men to gather in an atmosphere of prayer and fellowship. What started in Cincinnati 25 years ago has spread throughout the United States and beyond to places like Guam for example. Events like our “ANSWER THE CALL” Men’s Conferences have been held in more than 60 cities over the years and there are countless Parish based Men’s Fellowship groups active around the country.
All of this has more to do with many men listening to this “call” on their lives, from the Holy Spirit, and responding to it.
Why are you stepping aside from leadership right now?
Twenty five years is a long time to be in the lead of any endeavor. I have actually “retired” three times during that period, from various levels of responsibilities within the local and national Fellowships, so other men could feel free to step up.
It is vital that organizations seek to groom new leaders so that it is energized, dynamic and open to different approaches; otherwise, the group atrophies. Our Vision remains and the core leadership Team at St. Gertrude is committed to preserving that. It is important that the group lives out its Vision in a vigorous, responsive, energetic manner and that it stands ready to welcome new men at all times. The St. Gertrude Men’s Fellowship lives out that challenge with excellence and it is an exciting group to be part of!
What is in store for Kevin Lynch as you transition?
Well, I do not plan on going away and I want to be open to whatever plan the Lord has in mind for me. I am looking forward to being just “one of the boys” in the St. Gertrude Men’s Fellowship and serving our men in any way that is most helpful. My brothers in
the Lord will hear me ”harrumph” and bang my cane on the floor, from time to time, if I need to get their attention!
Do you have advice for the group’s leaders?
We have spent the last three years forming and developing a Lead Team. Each one of those men shared various leadership roles within the Fellowship. That Team ultimately selected Paul Rieger to lead the St. Gertrude Fellowship for a specific term after which another Leader will be designated. Importantly, we have all prayed together so as to respond to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and assure a seamless transition.
It is vital that our entire group remains focused on HIS plan for our group. We must stay transparent, open to all men and prayerfully responsive to the particular spiritual needs of our brothers in the Lord.