In 2005, businessman John Ream, author of the book Velvet and Steal, came to St. Mary Church in Ridgefield, CT and gave an inspiring talk on Effective Fathering and the importance of a Christian man’s responsibility for raising his son into a grounded Christian manhood. After the talk some of the men asked John his thoughts on the best way for them to keep the dialog going. His response was “Just do it through your Men’s Ministry”. The next question asked was, “What is a Men’s Ministry?” John was surprised there was nothing already in place and went on to describe the men’s group in his hometown church and how it had changed the men’s faith lives and positively impacted the parish community.
After a series of discussions between a committed priest and a half dozen men, the St. Mary Men’s Ministry was launched. Today that ministry has grown to 150 plus men with an average of 70 men attending weekly Saturday morning meetings to pray, discuss faith, scripture, and their personal experience of what it means to live a Catholic life. For many of our non-Catholic Christian brothers, this kind of ministry is quite common. For many Catholic men however, faith sharing, and personal fellowship are often a rare or non-existent part of their faith lives. We want to help change that.
Men’s Ministry quickly became a place for men to experience God’s presence through relationships. Beyond Mass and the sacraments, where does the “rubber hit road” in your faith life? Deeper questions evolved. How are you living the Gospel? Where do you experience God’s presence Monday through Saturday, in your work, family, friends and community? Are you comfortable in your role as a disciple or are you stuck? Are you studying or hearing about discipleship but struggling with how to go about it? We are trying to help men close the gap between their Catholic – Christian belief system and their lived experience of faith.
After the success of this initial ministry, a group of us decided to help men at other local parishes to form their own ministries using the simple model we had developed. We utilized men who were more experienced with the model to help new groups get off the ground. Since then, over forty new ministries have been established, and the model continues to take root beyond our diocese in new parish communities and congregations. In addition to faith sharing groups, annual retreats have been offered giving men an opportunity to experience more in depth prayer and reflection. These experiences combine to help men form stronger faith relationships with God and each other in daily life. As Tom Groome said it best, “put more life into your faith, and more faith into your life”
We hope this web site will serve as a resource for men who might be searching for an effective model that is flexible across Christian denominations, saves time, and offers materials and coaching help in getting started. But most importantly, a model that has been “road tested” over time and works well.