Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A recent survey specifically targeting U.S. Catholic men, reaching large numbers of practicing Catholic men across age groups and zip codes suggests large numbers of faithful Catholic men are frustrated with the lack of engagement by priests, who do little for them in the area of equipping them to be fishers of men. This has resulted in large numbers of lukewarm Catholic men who do not know and practice the faith, and a mass exodus of Catholic men from the Church. The survey also demonstrates that priests who make it a personal priority to evangelize Catholic men have a significant impact on the faith lives of these men. Also hopeful, most current priests have the personal leadership characteristics that men respect; men are prepared to follow priests who take the initiative to lead.  What is required is not dramatic new spending or programs, but the commitment of bishops and priests to personally engage men on a regular basis, a remedy first suggested in the Vatican II documents! Such a commitment draws the lukewarm into faith-building fraternity, challenging them to Catholic manhood and reinforcing the essentials of Catholicism,  including meeting Jesus, devotion to Mary and Joseph, engaging in the Sacraments and prayer and teaching basic apologetics.

Looking to the future, a great movement of the Holy Spirit (now ongoing) and strong leadership from bishops, priests and deacons, supported by large numbers of Catholic laymen, will be needed to staunch the hemorrhaging of Catholic men from the Church. A commitment to a “New Evangelization” by bishops and priests will grow large numbers of evangelized and well-catechized men for the future rebuilding of the Church in the decades to come. This “New Evangelization” will lead to a dramatic renewal in the Church, a renewal that at its heart is in passionate obedience to Christ’s final Great Commission:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that  I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matt 28:19-20).