menAlive saved my life… and it can save yours too: says Frank
‘God is most glorified when men are fully alive’ – St Irenaeus of Lyons
FRANK Stanford is a good example of what menALIVE can do for a man searching for answers in his faith.
He says it has saved his life.
“And it can save yours too,” he adds.
By his own admission, he is not a choir boy. Not yet anyway!
Faith, family and friends reign supreme in his life.
Until two years ago, the faith element for Mr Stanford has often been ‘rocky’ at best or non-existent.
As a child growing up on the Central Coast of New South Wales, he would attend daily Mass along with his mother of Catholic Irish descent. Often he would be an altar boy.
He says his father (and best mate until he passed away in 2016), had zero faith at the time, but became Catholic when he met his mother.
As is the case for many of us who lose our path, his (Frank’s) faith fell right away when he hit his teens.
“I guess I never really got anything out of going to church because it did nothing for me,” he said.
“Peer pressure to do other things was huge and still is.”
Passing the pub test not enough
Whilst the self-professed Queanbeyan larrikin has always passed the pub-test as a good bloke, he acknowledges back in 2015 that his life wasn’t going so well.
“I wasn’t a very nice person to be around,” he said.
“Often I used profanities and didn’t care what anyone thought.”
It was at his lowest ebb that Mr Stanford’s life changed for the better.
Upon the suggestion of St Raphael’s Parish Priest Fr Troy Bobbin, he attended his first menALIVE weekend.
“My life had to change because something had to give,” he said.
“At the time I was at rock-bottom and in a very dark place.”
He says going out to West Wyalong for a weekend in 2016 with 20 other guys whom he didn’t know was a challenge.
He wondered whether it would be just another ‘flash-in-the-pan’ event with no real meaning.
Mr Stanford says the turning point for him was listening to Canberra-based menALIVE guys like Torrien Lau, Brad Moffitt, Tim Cahill and Matt Wolnicki.
“They were opening up and being vulnerable about themselves in their own lives,” he says.
“I think as blokes we are brought up to hide our emotions and to put on a façade that everything is alright even when it isn’t.
“And his isn’t very healthy at all because inside I was drowning in muck and filth; and I know many other guys are as well.”
Those closest to Mr Stanford say his transformation within a short space of time has been ‘truly remarkable’.
Not only is he a regular at Mass but he is often called upon as an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister.
It’s a far cry from his days as the designated barbecue sausage turner.
“I still love cooking the snags, don’t worry about that,” he says.
“But being asked to join the menALIVE presenting team has been a humbling experience.
“Especially knowing that there are men out there who are just like I used to be; and being able to witness their own transformation is a real blessing.”
His wife Selina acknowledges that she has seen an obvious growth in her husband’s faith.
She has also noticed greater satisfaction with life in general.
“Up until a few years ago we rarely talked about faith as a family,” she says.
“But now it seems quite normal.”
“I am very grateful for the day that Frank first experienced menALIVE and the subsequent effect that it has had on our family life.
“In a healthy kind of way I was quite envious of the bond which the menALIVE guys have and share.
“It is actually what made me take action to further develop my own faith journey.”
For more information about menALIVE and any upcoming weekends go to http://www.menalive.org.au/
- menALIVE meet in Canberra at St Christopher’s for Mass at 5pm on the first Monday of each month. To join the email list for reminders, send an email to Anthony Morrison via firstname.lastname@example.org