In a recent interview about the New EMangelization, Matthew James Christoff spoke of the massive departure of men from the Catholic faith and the impact it has had on the Church and society.  Matthew stressed the great importance for men to be the “protector, provider, and leader” of their families not only materially, but spiritually as well.  Since men have lost the understanding of what it means to be a man, they need to be challenged to imitate the “perfect manhood of Christ.”  Matthew said that bringing men together in Christ is essential for the New Evangelization to flourish.

“Proverbs 27:17 says, ‘Iron sharpens Iron, as one man sharpens another”, quoted Matthew.  “If we had strong Catholic fraternity in every parish, a number of things would be happening. First, you would see the pews so full that you’d have to build more churches.  Second, parishes would be incredibly strong.  There is research out there that shows that the greater the level of participation of men in the parish…the more likely the parish is growing and financially sound.  Third, you’d see a much higher number of young men staying in the Church as adults instead of only 5-10%.”

So what then can be done to build up Catholic fraternity and lead to this revival in the Church?  The New Emangelization project offers seven principles that are shown to bring men into relationship with Jesus Christ.  These are drawn from the documents “A Call for a New Emangelization” and “Helping Priests Become More Effective in Evangelizing Men”; I highly recommend reading both.

1. Make Men’s Evangelization Essential

Less than 20% of priests have made it a priority to evangelize men.  As spiritual fathers, pastors must challenge the men of their flock to imitate the “perfect manhood of Christ” as a father would challenge his sons.  Parishes need to foster fraternity for men since “Iron sharpens Iron” and Catholic fraternity leads men to pray more, attend Mass more frequently, and become more engaged in the life of the parish.

2. Establish Men’s Vanguards to Build Leadership

Men’s Vanguards (composed of ~12 men) work intimately with the parish priest and deacons to organize, plan, and implement the evangelization of men in the local area.  Since these are composed of men themselves, they can fully understand and respond to the unique challenges men face today.

3. Evangelizing Priests in the Mass, Reconciliation and Men

“The majority of respondents [to the New Emangelization survey] think their priests are not offering the Mass in a way that is sufficiently reverent and draws men into a deeper awe of and communion with Jesus Christ.”1  Since 85% of men do not engage in parish life outside the Mass, offering a reverent Mass is key to drawing men into relationship with Christ.  This is as simple as following the rubrics of the Mass, emphasizing the reality of sin and every person’s need for the Sacrament of Penance, and building a culture of awe for Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

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Source – Pixabay

4. Challenge Men to Be Committed Catholic Men

Men want to serve something greater than themselves and respond to the challenge to be warriors for Christ.  Challenging men to be “protectors, providers, and leaders in their family’s spiritual lives” fulfills a deep desire within them and helps them find their identity in Christ.  This can be done by working with men to develop daily habits of prayer through such things as Scripture reading and the Rosary; through weekly habits of attending Mass; and by the monthly habits of attending Confession and fraternal meetings with other Catholic men.

5. Catechize Men on Jesus, Sacraments and Prayer

Many men do not know the faith and few have had an encounter with Jesus Christ.  Teaching men the basic tenets of the faith is a powerful way to evangelize men and draw them into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

6. Launch Diocesan Men’s Evangelization Campaigns

Bishops are the modern-day apostles and, as such, are in the unique position to reach men.  Bishops who engage men will have profoundly impact on diocesan growth as well as increase men’s involvement in their own local parishes.

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Source – Pixabay

7. Grow Fraternity in Acts 2:42 Parishes

The early Church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).  Drawing men together through catechesis, fraternity, the Sacraments, and prayer will radically change maintenance parishes into mission parishes, and bear great fruit for the New Evangelization!

1 Christoff, Matthew. “Helping Priests Become More Effective in Evangelizing Men”. 2015. p. 3