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Cigars and Stories

Father Peter Williams and members of Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Springfield gather for "Cigars and Stories" around a fire pit. (Vermont Catholic/Cori Fugere Urban) Father Peter Williams and members of Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Springfield gather for "Cigars and Stories" around a fire pit.
It was a warm, dry Thursday evening, and the fire in the pit next to Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Springfield was burning almost lazily. Five men, including the pastor, Father Peter Williams, relaxed around it, telling stories punctuated by deep, hearty laughs.
It was the July men’s meeting for “Cigars and Stories,” though only a couple had a cigar.
“This is relaxing,” said parishioner Dennis Pine. “I look forward to it,” added Father Williams whose idea it was to gather the men to relax, get to know one another and share their wisdom.
He occasionally smoked a pipe, but when he saw a computer ad for Immaculata Cigars, he was intrigued because of his devotion to St. Maximilian Kolbe, founder of the Militia of the Immaculata, a worldwide evangelization movement that encourages total consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary as a means of spiritual renewal for individuals and society.
He bought a box of the cigars, made by Ave Maria Cigars, but then wondered what he would do with them. So he decided to share them with the men of the parish.
The monthly, 7 to 9 p.m., May through October gatherings around the campfire began last summer and are open to all men. “The purpose is gathering. And keep it simple,” Father Williams said. “We [men] don’t often socialize unless we have an event. This is a social event.”
He hopes by participating, men of the parish will get to know one another better – “which is invaluable” – and appreciate the wisdom of the older men. “It’s an exchange of wisdom,” he added.
Men are encouraged to “come with a story;” and although they don’t have to be funny, “it helps if they are,” Father Williams said with a laugh.
Stories have centered on topics like family, travel and camping.
But Father Williams is open to questions, and the gatherings of about a half dozen men are times when they can seek answers to questions about the Church or their faith.
“This is a nice getaway … to hang out,” said parishioner Dave Prunier who contributed a story about “German festive coffee.”
“We all get along, and this is a way to continue to get to know people in the parish,” he said.
Asked why he attends, parishioner Pierre Peltier exclaimed, “It’s our penance,” and the other men roared with laughter.
Parishioner Tony Klementowicz said he enjoys the camaraderie and the comfortable atmosphere around the fire. (If it rains the gathering is moved indoors.)
Pine is hoping the group will meet around the campfire at least once in the winter.
Last modified onSaturday, 24 June 2017 10:45
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