A Profile of a Parish-based Ministry for Men
Facilitating relevant ministries for the spiritual edification of men can be difficult. Men’s ministries most often focus on action — men in the parish working to fix a problem — rather than highlighting the need for spiritual growth and leadership. Certainly men are most comfortable working to solve practical problems and doing the needed work to help keep things moving along. Yet therein also lies the perpetuation of a societal problem that must be tackled if men are going to become more relevant in the efforts of the new evangelization. That is, too often, society feeds men the lie that spiritual endeavors are strictly a concern for women.
If our programming for men on parish and diocesan levels is almost exclusively limited to alleviating material needs for the local church, we help to feed this misconception that men do not need to bother themselves with being spiritual leaders. Conversely, the Men of St. Joseph ministry works to inspire and equip men to be spiritual leaders by encouraging them and focusing on their role as fathers — be it biological, spiritual, or adoptive. Men need support and strength to fulfill their calling to be spiritual leaders. One cannot give what one does not have, so this ministry is built on the understanding that men must first return to a life of prayer and community if they are going to succeed. To this end, Men of St. Joseph chapters meet weekly to pray and support one another.
In the words of Harry J. Flynn, archbishop emeritus of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis: “Whether you like it or not, you are the created and he is the Creator, and that distinction places on you a great obligation … the same obligation a son has to his father.” To be good fathers, men must first strive to be good sons. This can only be done if men communicate with their Heavenly Father through prayer, so this program adopts the rich liturgical tradition of the Catholic Church and utilizes the Liturgy of the Hours combined with spontaneous prayer and shared intentions. In this combination of prayer exercises, men share intimately with one other while growing their appreciation for the liturgical practices of the Church, ultimately leading them to a deeper appreciation for the sacramental life of the Church.
After the time of prayer is concluded, the men read the upcoming Sunday Gospel and share a time of reflection. This allows the group to benefit from the collective wisdom of their members. This type of dialogue allows the participants to share relatable stories based on their personal experiences. This combination of prayer and sharing of experiential knowledge creates an atmosphere conducive to open, honest dialogue where trust and fatherhood are fostered.
Men of St. Joseph aims at calling men into a more authentic participation in the new evangelization as spiritual leaders fully committed to their family’s salvation and their spiritual obligations. Most importantly, men come to know that if they surrender their day-to-day problems to God, they will be better fathers, husbands, and friends. Through Christ, they will be better men.
ZACHARY S. MORGAN is the executive director for Men of St. Joseph and also serves as the coordinator of sacramental preparation for the Archdiocese of Mobile in Mobile, Alabama. Learn more about Men of St. Joseph by visiting MenOfStJoseph.com.
PHOTO: ZONECREATIVE/ SHUTTERSTOCK
This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, March, 2018