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Stories of faith shared at Mile Marker event

AUSTINTOWN — Men of different denominations shared their own personal stories of faith as they gathered for a day of support and fellowship as part of the annual Men’s Mile Marker.

The gathering took place recently at St. Joseph Parish in Austintown with more than 400 men from 13 denominations.

Chad Rachic of Immaculate Heart of Mary said the Men’s Mile Marker event focuses on where men are in their lives and the transformations that have taken place since the second Sunday of Lent focuses on transformation.

“Our talks, songs and discussion are on transformation in men’s lives with a focus on their faith,” he said.

Rachic, one of the event organizers, said the gathering allows men to get together and share their faith and stories while taking part in fellowship through Scripture and song.

The name of the event, Men’s Mile Marker, is because men are at different mile markers in their faith and personal lives.

“The mile marker means where each person is in their journey of faith,” Rachic said.

Men took part in group activities and discussed how tragedies or incidents in their own lives led to a transformation in their life of faith.

“This allows men to be open minded in their faith and focus on Jesus Christ and trying to reach others in their lives,” Rachic said.

The Rev. Kenneth Miller, a retired pastor with the Diocese of Youngstown who also taught economic classes at Youngstown State University, shared significant times in his own life, including working in parishes and schools for the Diocese.

“Each of us faces change and challenges in our lives. In 1992, while at the Diocese of Youngstown, Bishop Malone asked me to work on the child protection policies, which was 10 years before the child abuse crisis and the church was made known nationwide,” Miller said.

He said the Diocese of Youngstown was one of the few in the nation to have such a policy in place in the early 1990s.

“When the child-abuse crisis broke, I began to realize that the authorities of the churches nationwide and the Vatican at that time had covered up this issue,” he said.

Miller, pastor emeritus at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Austintown, said there are two films about the abuse crisis that he recommends people watch. “Spotlight” told of how the Boston Archdiocese covered up child abuse and focused on the Boston Globe reporters and other journalists who tried to bring the story to light. The movie “Doubt,” starring Meryl Streep, told the story of a nun who suspects a priest of child abuse and how she protected the children.

Miller said dealing with the crisis was a major transformation in his life as was a trip to El Salvador in Central America, where there were concerns about the government and killing of people in churches there.

Miller said these transformations in his life made him think about how to come to terms with what was happening and not being afraid to criticize what he saw was wrong.

In his career, Miller helped at SS. Cyril and Methodius Parish and St. James Parish in Warren. He also was active at Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Joseph parishes in Austintown.

“When I preach, I do not intend to offend. I am not afraid to try and make connections. I feel that sometimes the personal crises in someone’s life can often be blessings in disguise,” Miller said.

Rachic said the event has been successful for the past four years and hopes to continue it for many years to come.

Have an interesting story? Contact Bob Coupland by email at bcoupland@tribtoday.com.

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