A new 30-day challenge for Catholic men of all ages aims to “[help] men live out their identity as sons, brothers, spouses, and fathers,” according to Chris Stefanick, founder of the Catholic apostolate Real Life Catholic and one of the new program’s authors.
Several Catholic individuals and organizations have joined together to launch the challenge program, called RISE. Men sign up online for RISE, and for 30 successive days, starting on a specific date, they receive a link to short videos, written reflections, and challenges. Challenges are geared to the individual’s state in life, such as single, married, or divorced/separated/widowed. It’s all “practical Christianity,” says Stefanick, “and helps the man live better and have a more fulfilling life.”
“RISE is all about stepping up and claiming your true identity as a son of God, embracing your natural and profound gifts as a man,” Stefanick continued. “That changes everything. Imagine if a million men in the Church were living intentionally as disciples of Christ. Families, parishes, and communities would be transformed. That’s our goal.”
Stefanick is a father of six, works as an international Catholic speaker and author, and is host of EWTN’s Real Life Catholic. He previously worked for Archbishop Charles Chaput while the latter was archbishop of Denver. Stefanick says his apostolate is dedicated to “reengaging a generation through powerful media, live events, and resources.”
$1 per day
The cost to participate in RISE is about $1 per day for the 30-day challenge. The next start date for the program falls at the beginning of Lent: Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2018. The program is available for both English and Spanish speakers. Men are encouraged to sign up individually and or with a parish men’s group.
The Lenten program will be the second RISE group; the inaugural group, which will wrap up next week, is doing better than expected, according to Stefanick. “I didn’t know how powerful it would be,” he said. The comments box for the group has been the opposite of the negative, demeaning environment so often found across the Internet. “There are guys pouring out their hearts to one another, sharing their struggles and forming friendships,” he said. “It’s been beautiful to see.”
Most daily videos are three minutes long—designed with busy men in mind—but four of the videos run five to seven minutes and feature individual men sharing their testimonies. One of these men is Bill Donaghy, a curriculum specialist at the Theology of the Body Institute in Pennsylvania. Donaghy said, “My story centers on fatherhood, and I share how I learn what being a man has meant to me.”
While Stefanick offers the introduction for each video, Donaghy developed the rest of the content, which is intended to “walk men through their identity and vocation.” Donaghy has devoted his career to diocesan, parish, and ministry work, as well as private high school education. He holds a master’s in systematic theology from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.
The filming was done by Chris Cope of Cardinal Studios and Philip Braun of Philip Braun Productions. Sean Schiavolin, Dave Kang, and Mike Fontecchio also served as producers on the project.
The message of RISE, Donaghy explained, “is to get men to slow down and be open to the love of their Father in Heaven. We have to realize that we are not defined by what we do, but that we are the sons of a loving Father.”
Week One of the program focuses on being a son; Week Two, a brother; Week Three, a spouse; and Week Four, a father. Participants are welcome to review previous videos, but are not allowed to skip ahead.
Like Stefanick, Donaghy has been impressed by the feedback received from the first group of RISE men. He said, “I’ve been blown away by the response. Men are sharing their stories, inspiring one another, and connecting offline on their own. It’s been very powerful.”
Among the supporters of the program, said Stefanick, is Archbishop Chaput, now archbishop of Philadelphia. “Archbishop Chaput saw the program, loved it, and has gotten behind promoting it to people in his archdiocese,” Stefanick said.
Donaghy added, “The archbishop told us, ‘It’s what we need today.’”
Men are encouraged to do the program with a “brother,” so the two can hold one another accountable through the 30 days; Donaghy is currently doing the program with his father, which he says “has taken us on a deeper level than we’ve ever been before.” Stefanick is planning on being a participant for the second offering of RISE during Lent.
Donaghy said RISE is being launched at a critical time, as many stories of men falling into sexual sin predominate the news headlines. While there are many outstanding Catholic programs available for men, he thinks RISE has a special niche as it helps the man answer the questions, “Who am I? What am I called to be?” A similar program for women is also in development.
He hopes that RISE will inspire men to become excited about their Faith, and lead them to other apostolates at their local parishes.
Stefanick said, “There’s never been a more important time than now for men to step up, lead their families and communities, and live an authentic masculinity rooted in understanding their identity as sons of God.”
Donaghy added, “This isn’t just a program, it’s a movement. RISE meets men where they are, and gives them practical tools to live their faith out every day. With men all around the world stepping up, RISE will be revolutionary.”
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