“Anytime you have the chance to give glory to God on top of a mountain,” you take it, said Mark Vinnicomb of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Yardville, who attended the hike with his son Mark Jr. “This sounded like a great opportunity for a father and son on Father’s Day weekend,” Mark said. Jeff Bruno photos

“Anytime you have the chance to give glory to God on top of a mountain,” you take it, said Mark Vinnicomb of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Yardville, who attended the hike with his son Mark Jr. “This sounded like a great opportunity for a father and son on Father’s Day weekend,” Mark said. Jeff Bruno photos

Photo Essay by Jeff Bruno | Correspondent

As the early morning fog lifted over the top of Mount Tammany, the crackle of twigs being snapped underfoot mingled with light conversation and prayer.

But most often, the soft sounds of the woods were enveloped in a peaceful quiet, as about 150 men of all ages hiked North Jersey’s Dunnfield Creek Natural Area to the summit in silent contemplation.

Photo Gallery: Mass on Top of the Mountain

At the peak, men from the Diocese, many of whom were joined by their sons June 15, the day before Father’s Day, knelt on the rocky ground as a bilingual Mass was celebrated by Father Jorge Bedoya, parochial vicar of St. Joan of Arc Parish, Marlton, and concelebrated by Father Javier Diaz, pastor of Christ the King Parish, Long Branch, and Divine Word Father Krzysztof Pipa, parish administrator in St. Ann Parish, Browns Mills.

Josue Arriola, director of the diocesan Department of Evangelization and Family Life, which sponsored the Mass on Top of the Mountain hike, said the day was about prayer, evangelization and creating bonds.

“Part of the goal was to strengthen men’s groups and to help them recruit new members,” he said, explaining that in addition, at least two parishes represented that day left with plans to start their own men’s groups where one didn’t previously exist.

“God’s presence was felt,” he continued. “Men who started the hike alone reached the top with a new friend or a group.”

John Muka, who helped organize the men’s group from his parish, St. Vincent de Paul, Yardville, said it was important to show a public display of faith. He explained how along the way, the men encountered other hikers who were curious about the group expedition and their faith.

At the end of the hike, Muka said, “I kept thinking how we threw one rock in the pond, and it made some ripples. Now let’s figure out some other things to do. We have to keep throwing rocks in the pond. We have to keep making those ripples. There’s too much against us – the world is trying to pull us all apart.”

Arriola said he was grateful for all who helped make the event a success and the family and spousal support the men received.

“The encouragement of the wives was instrumental to making this possible,” he said. “They saw this as a beautiful opportunity for fathers and sons to interact.”

Jennifer Mauro, managing editor of The Monitor, contributed to this report.