1.1 The Men's Ministry Model

Men's Ministry: What is it?

A Men’s Ministry is a fellowship of men in a parish designed to enrich their relationships with God and apply their faith to their daily lives. At St. Mary’s the men tried to capture the purpose, goals, and the spirit of the new Men’s Ministry in their Mission Statement: St. Mary Men’s Ministry is designed to help parish men of all ages realize what it means to be a Catholic man today. Our primary mission is to help men enrich their relationships with Jesus Christ and apply their faith to their daily lives. We work to achieve these goals by celebrating the Mass and praying together, studying the Sacred Scripture, joining in small groups to discuss our successes and struggles, and inspiring one another to be accountable to our Christian values in the way we live our lives. Through this fellowship, we learn that we are capable of realizing and committing to our true priorities, and living that commitment. In fostering this, the Men’s Ministry strives to bring us closer to God, our families, the community, and each other.

Why is it needed?

Many men have few close male friends, with whom they can discuss their faith and other important male issues in a meaningful way. 

For many men, church and their faith have become spectator sports. They may attend weekly Mass, but they never get around to pursuing spiritual fulfillment beyond that. 

Men are called to be spiritual leaders in their families, the Church, and the world. That leadership is greatly needed, and many men want and need assistance in developing these skills.

Many men don’t know how to:

  • Become what they’re capable of 
  • Realize their true priorities
  • Commit to being true to these priorities
  • Be accountable to these commitments

Purpose of this Website

This web site is based on our experiences at St. Mary Parish in Ridgefield, Connecticut and in assisting other parishes throughout our Diocese. It is intended as a resource to provide guidance and suggestions to men contemplating establishing a parish based Men’s Ministry. In addition to providing an overview of program elements, we have also tried to include practical suggestions for implementation wherever appropriate.

This Men’s Ministry program is meant to serve the men of the parish. Many successful Men’s Ministries have shared common program components, we are presenting ideas that have worked well for our parish and parishes we have assisted in establishing their ministries. However, the program will have a greater chance of initial and long-term success if it is driven by the particular needs of the men in the parish.

First Steps

  • “Go slow and strive for excellence” is a guideline we have tried to follow.
  • Rather than trying to quickly win over a large number of the parish men, we believe a better goal is to achieve a meaningful and enriching program.
  • For example, as we rolled out the program to our parish, we were prepared to feel successful if we grew to 25 or 30 men, if the program helped those men feel more fulfilled. We believe if you do things well, the word will get out and the program will grow.


In our experience, two ingredients will greatly increase the odds for success:

  • The establishment of a “Core Group” of men committed to getting and keeping the program running. The commitment needs to be sincere, but the workload should not prove to be overwhelming.
  • The commitment and active involvement of the parish clergy, in particular a priest sponsor. This helps in several ways, including helping to establish credibility within the parish community. The priest sponsor can help immeasurably. Two regular and prominent ways are by: -Guiding the Core Group in spiritual and practical matters, and -Serving as a liaison to the Pastor and to a degree, to the other parish ministries.
  • Defining the role of Clergy: In our experience it is best for Clergy to participate in, not run these meetings. The ministry should be able to function without total dependence on Clergy. Over the years we’ve seen many levels of Clergy involvement:
    • Some Pastors attend every week, join different tables and participate in the discussion.
    • Others show up for the opening prayer, remain awhile then depart depending on their schedule.
    • Those unable to attend weekly meetings often participate in Core Team meetings to contribute and stay informed on how things are developing and address any challenges where they may give guidance.
This being said, we have helped to jumpstart many successful ministries where clergy are unable to participate. In these days of closing parishes and diminished vocations many Pastors are short staffed and burdened with additional administrative duties that may hinder their weekly participation. If your Pastor falls into this category don’t let that stop you from getting started and including clergy when they’re able to attend. Most importantly, the Men’s Ministry needs to be driven by the lay leadership team, not become an additional burden on your Pastor’s plate. We strongly urge you to have this conversation at the outset with your Pastor, attending Priests and Deacons. Defining expectations, the level of support they can give and their roles will be a great help to sustaining and strengthening the ministry leadership.

Program Components

  • Weekly Meetings (6:30 – 8:00 AM every Saturday) or whatever time work best for your group. Most parishes default to early Saturday mornings, as this seems to interfere least with Saturday family obligations.
  • Spiritual and Catechetical Components 
  • Social Events
  • Parish “Community Building” Activities 
  • Community Service