A new program challenges Catholic men to “RISE”

“There’s never been a more important time than now for men to step up.”

(Image via menriseup.org)

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.

“Powerful” response

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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About Jim Graves 219 Articles
Jim Graves is a Catholic writer living in Newport Beach, California.


  1. “Donaghy said RISE is being launched at a critical time, as many stories of men falling into sexual sin predominate the news headlines. ”

    The pernicious effect of #MeToo, being used as a club to beat Catholic men with.

    “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.””

    Men should be leading their families, it is true. Is there a proper discussion of how this is to be done in an age of egalitarianism and feminism? As for communities — the majority of Catholic men live in areas where ecclesial and civic community are absent. They cannot lead what does not exist. Rather, what needs to be done is for men to network and create those communities in the first place.

  2. Men have dominated society and the church for eons. Yes, sexual assaults seem to be on the rise in America. Even President Trump is accused of sexual misconduct by nearly 20 women. Then he is accused of rape by his first wife Ivana. If all those accusations prove true he could be dangerous to his current wife, a Catholic, and the nation. Almost every sexual assault today is perpetrated by men. I have a penchant for allowing women more latitude and power in society and in religion based mostly on their uncanny ability to control their urges. Men have the corner on “falling in to sexual sin”. But, with few exceptions sexual sin means almost every sexual act, short of marital cohabitation. Pope John Paul II said a married man cannot show lust after his wife. Unless I just don’t know what lust is, I would see that as just another “cleansing” of the soul and quite restrictive in the marital bedroom.
    The psyche of a narcissist is to gain more control over people . Trump reveals that mentality. His NRA attachment was recently displayed when he tried to convince Americans who lost loved ones that guns don’t kill people, mentally deranged criminals do. He then abruptly rescinded President Obama’s order to keep guns from the mentally ill. I would call that morsel paradoxical.

    • Though it dominates the liberal media, smacking Trump deceptively can be a sin in God’s eyes.
      Can you tell us the nuances of Trump’s allowing the mentally ill to have guns. Does he allow paranoid schizophrenics to buy guns or does he allow those who went for scrupulosity counseling to have guns. New Jersey right now under Trump for example excludes anyone from firearms who were hospitalized at any time in their lives in a psychiatric unit but not if they went to a therapist for ocd, the illness presented in the lead character of the TV series, Monk. Devils are not red with horns. Scripture says they can disguise themselves as angels of light…the very opposite of nearly all artistic images of them. The real fallen angels can get you to bear false witness against Trump and that becomes your sin to the extent that you have slanted any of your assertions about him. I think he is in trouble with God just on the multiple marriage level. But I sin if I then guess at his other sins.
      Why let fallen angels who disguise themselves as good angels get you in trouble with God by guessing?
      The recovered manic depressive woman who lives in Baltimore should have the right to a pistol to protect her from rape and murder in her home. The recovered borderline woman in Tulsa likewise. The recovered ocd Monk person likewise. The person who hears the frig talking to him or her…might well be excluded by some states from a firearms id card.

      • ps
        The Obama rule was not stopping the mentally ill. It was stopping Social Security recipients who could not handle their finances….75,000 in number. It would presume that if they could not handle their finances…they were not capable of handling a gun possibly through mental illness which they then could be evaluated on after being stopped from purchase. Sen. Grassey of Iowa said such presumption of mental illness from financial behaviour deprives them prior to an evaluation. The Time magazine article cited the Dept. of Health and Human Services…no tool of Trump… as asserting that only 3-5% of violent incidents are attributable to the mentally ill.

  3. Mr. Bannon you are a Trump enabler.

    Trump Nixed Gun-Control Rule
    By D’Angelo Gore

    Posted on October 6, 2017

    Q: Did President Donald Trump repeal a rule that aims to block some people with mental disorders from buying guns?

    A: Yes. The Social Security Administration is no longer required to submit the names of certain mentally disabled beneficiaries to a federal agency that conducts gun background checks.

  4. Morgan,
    My post had all that with better nuancing.
    Here in the link below is why most single women should get a small pistol and learn your state’s exact laws on using it.
    Most home invaders simply knock on the door and most people let them in just by opening.
    Rule one…door chain for partial opening. Rule two…pistol behind your back…revolver for no jamming. This pretty blond is dead for not doing such probably….Ohio..this past week.


  5. Good news, but very late. The Church has waited until the war against men has claimed so many lives before acting. The same with the vocations crisis.

  6. As retired from Law Enforcement and having 40+ years in it and associated fields, I would propose that 75-90% of mass shootings (depending on the location of the community) are perpetrated by defendants with mental issues, most of them being treated and under medication at the time of the incidents. My experience includes hands on them and their drugs.

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