Findings from a Large-scale Survey of Practicing Catholic Men
Matthew James Christoff – The New Emangelization Project
Though the New Evangelization has been a major effort in the Catholic Church for over forty years, it has failed to stem the disastrous losses of the faithful in the U.S. The New Evangelization is faltering: since 2000, 14 million Catholics have left the faith, parish religious education participation of children has dropped by 24%, Catholic school attendance has dropped by 19%, baptisms of infants has dropped by 28%, baptism of adults has dropped by 31% and sacramental Catholic marriages have dropped by 41%. Something is desperately wrong with the Church’s approach to the New Evangelization.
The New Emangelization Project has documented that a key driver of the collapse of Catholicism in the U. S. is a serious and growing Catholic “man-crisis”. One third of baptized Catholic men have left the faith and the majority of those who remain “Catholic” neither know nor practice the faith and are not committed to pass the faith along to their children. Recent research shows that large numbers of young Catholic men are leaving the faith to become “Nones”, men who have no religious affiliation. The growing losses of young Catholic men will have a devastating impact on the U.S. Catholic Church in the coming decades, as older Catholic men pass away and young men fail to remain and marry in the Church, accelerating the devastating losses that have already occurred.
While there are massive cultural forces outside of the Church (e.g. secularism, pluralism, anti-Christian bias, radical feminism, pornography, media saturation, etc.) and missteps within the Church (e.g. failure to make men a priority, sex abuse scandals, homosexuality in the priesthood, etc.) that have contributed to the Catholic “man-crisis”, the New Emangelization Project has conducted dozens of interviews with top Catholic men’s evangelists that suggest that a core reason for the “man-crisis” is that bishops and priests have not yet made the evangelization and catechesis of men a clear priority. Men are being ignored by the Church.
To gain deeper insight into the critical role that priests play in the evangelization and catechesis of men, the New Emangelization Project fielded the Helping Priests Become More Effective in Evangelizing Men Survey in the Fall of 2014. Over 1400 practicing Catholic men from the United States from over 1000 parishes participated in the survey, including solid responses from age groups and zip codes.
The survey suggests with a robust commitment to evangelize men by bishops and priests, real progress can be made to address the Catholic “man-crisis”. Priests who make it a priority to evangelize men have a significant impact on men’s faith lives: highly effective “emangelizing” priests lead their men to pray more, attend Mass and Confession more frequently and have more and deeper friendships with other faithful Catholic men. Men are ready and willing to follow the majority of today’s priests. Men want to be challenged to aspire to Catholic manhood, to learn and practice the basics of the faith and to be drawn into Catholic fraternity with other men. Unfortunately, only about 1 in 5 priests (i.e. 20%) have made it a priority to evangelize men and the majority of practicing Catholic men feel neglected by their bishops and priests. Given the real impact that priests can have on Catholic men and the willingness of Catholic men to follow the majority of priests, the survey results suggest that with a new commitment by bishops and priests to evangelize and catechize Catholic men, great progress can be made in addressing the Catholic “man-crisis.
Seven themes stand out from the survey:
1) Few priests actively evangelize men and men are very dissatisfied – The survey results show that only about 2 out of 10 priests are seen by men as committed to actively evangelize men. The large majority of priests does not personally evangelize and catechize men in a systematic way, rarely (or never) gather men together, fail to call, teach and lead men to evangelize other men or even speak to men in homilies. Men feel neglected by their priests and bishops with almost 9 out of 10 of the respondents voicing dissatisfaction with the men’s evangelization efforts of their bishops/dioceses.
2) Men must be challenged to aspire to Catholic Manhood – In the post-modern culture, men are being emasculated, confused about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a Catholic; this is at the core of the Catholic “man-crisis.” Men want to know what a Catholic man is called to do and how to be better sons, husbands, fathers and friends. Men are hungry for priests to challenge them with the fullness of Catholic truth and to call them to the nobility and blessing of being committed Catholic men. Unfortunately, the survey suggests that many priests are more comfortable with softish urgings for mercy while neglecting to call and challenge men to the hard truths of the faith. Men are motivated by truth; when truth is not preached, men wander into sin and away from the Church.
3) Men need to be taught the basics of the Catholic faith – The New Emangelization Project research demonstrates that large numbers of men do not understand the basics of the Catholic faith. Men who do not understand the Catholic faith are not motivated to practice the faith and are unable to pass the faith along to their children. Unfortunately, the survey suggests that the majority of priests are failing to catechize men; priests are not specifically helping men to draw closer to Jesus Christ, Mary and Joseph, to better understand the meaning and power of the Mass, to be challenged about Sin and the need for Reconciliation, to learn to pray and to provide basic apologetics so men can understand how to defend the Catholic faith. The survey also suggests that priests who are personally willing to engage men, teaching them the basics of the faith, can have strong impact.
4) The lack of Catholic fraternity hurts men’s faith lives – There is a serious lack of fraternity among practicing Catholic men, with only 1 in 6 practicing Catholic men saying they have strong bonds of brotherhood in their parishes. The survey shows that the lack of fraternity contributes to a less vibrant faith life in men; Catholic men with a lack of fraternity pray less, attend Mass less frequently, go to Confession less frequently and are less engaged in the life of the parish. The lack of Catholic fraternity is perhaps one of the most significant drivers of the exodus of men from the Church.
5) Men hunger for a more reverent Mass – The majority of respondents think their priests are not offering the Mass in a way that is sufficiently reverent and that draws men into a deeper awe of and communion with Jesus Christ. Many of the practicing Catholic men who participated in the survey believe that the Mass has become de-sacralized and feminized, distracted by seeking to build community instead of a reverent worship of Christ, over-emphasizing “mercy” while avoiding clear “truth”, and desecrated with sub-par irreverent music. Men hunger for priests to lead them who have an obvious sense of awe for the Real Presence of Christ and who offer the Mass with the holy dignity that Christ’s Sacrifice demands. Given that 8 out of 10 men rarely or never participate in any parish activities other than attend Mass, the survey suggests the de-sacralization of the Mass is a major contributing factor to the exodus of Catholic men from the Church since Vatican II.
6) Priests who focus on men have great impact – Priests who are rated highly effective in evangelizing men have a strong impact on their men; men attend Mass more frequently, read scripture more, go to Confession more, participate in men’s events, volunteer more and have more and deeper friendships and bonds of brotherhood with men in their parishes. Highly effectively “emangelizing” priests get personally involved, showing up for men’s events, personally teaching and encouraging fraternity among Catholic men. These are not “super priests”, but priests who simply make the commitment to “show up” for men. Priests who are committed to personally evangelize men make committed Catholic men.
7) Men will follow priests who lead – Survey respondents repeatedly voiced the desire for their current priest to begin actively leading the men of the parish; sadly, the majority of priests have not yet made the commitment to lead men. Some men lamented that their priest was effeminate and needed to be more manly, but the large majority of men had respect for their priests and believed their current priest had the inherent personal characteristics to successfully lead men. Catholic men are ready to follow priests who will lead; what’s needed now is for priests to make the commitment to lead men.
The survey suggests that real progress can be made in addressing the Catholic “man-crisis” by bishops and priests who make a personal commitment to make men’s evangelization a priority. Rather than significant investments in staff and programs, bishops and priests can have great impact by returning to the early Church’s approach in which the apostles personally gathered men together for prayer, sacraments, catechesis and fellowship:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42).
The New Emangelization Project has cataloged a number of grass roots parish-based approaches that draw on the model of Acts 2:42 and are working to draw men together on a regular basis (e.g. CatholicManNight, That Man Is You, The Holy League, Fathers of St. Joseph, Men of St. Joseph, Fraternus, Crossing the Goal, etc.); other approaches that gather men together using the Acts 2:42 model can also work. The survey makes it clear that Catholic men long for, and will follow, bishops and priests who are committed to lead men to Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church.
Passionate Catholic men have always been central to periods of renewal and growth in the Church; without engaged Catholic men, husbands and fathers, the Church declines. The Church, for too long, has failed to take up the hard work of systematically and consistently evangelizing and catechizing men and this is a perhaps the central reason why the New Evangelization is faltering. Simply put: there can be no New Evangelization without a New Emangelization, creating generations of Catholic men who are on fire for Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church. What’s needed now is for bishops, priests and deacons to make a fervent commitment to make the evangelization and catechesis of men a top priority.
Survey Design and Response
In the fall of 2014, an extensive survey was fielded by the New Emangelization Project to determine how practicing Catholic men viewed their priest’s efforts to evangelize and catechize men in their parishes. The Helping Priests Become More Effective in the Evangelization of Men Survey was fielded from September 29 to October 20, 2014. The survey was designed with the input of priests and men who are active in the evangelization of men and included 32 questions, with 30 multiple choice questions and 2 open-ended questions to solicit comments (1608 written comments were submitted). Men were asked to provide comments on their current priest, rather than priests in general. The survey was fielded via the Internet, targeting men who read/follow Catholic men’s websites to get input from men who were assumed to be more engaged in the faith than the average Catholic man.
During the period that the survey was open, 1495 lay adult male Catholics from the United States completed the survey. The survey enjoyed solid and roughly equal samples of men across age groups from 18 to 64 years of age; men older than 65 represented only about 5% of the total. 63% of respondents were fathers and 37% were not. There was a broad representation across dioceses and parishes; 1180 respondents volunteered zip codes and all major zip codes geographies were represented (each of the 10 U.S. major zip code geographic regions were 6-12% of the total sample) and there were 1078 unique zip codes in the sample.
The survey successfully engaged Catholic men who were committed to the faith. High numbers of the respondents considered themselves to be “practicing Catholics” (88%) who had high engagement in the faith as demonstrated by: Mass attendance (92% attending Mass at least weekly); participation in Confession/Reconciliation (49% at least monthly); daily prayer (83% prayed daily); reading of Scripture (52% at least weekly); praying the Rosary (41% praying the Rosary at least weekly); full agreement with the Magisterium (85%); proud to be Catholic men (96%); belief that being a Catholic man has made them better men (96%); Knights of Columbus membership (40%). Across all these categories, the respondents were significantly more highly engaged in the faith than the average Catholic man.
1) Few priests actively evangelize men and men are very dissatisfied
Only about 1 in 5 priests were rated by respondents as being highly effective in the evangelization and catechesis of men in their parishes. Most priests do not have a “man-plan”, do not gather men together for evangelization and catechesis and are not engaging men on the most basic of levels (e.g. such as showing up for scheduled men’s events, KOC meetings, etc.). Very few priests speak to men in homilies, despite the fact that the only parish activity that the majority of men ever participate in is the Mass. Further limiting the success of evangelizing men, very few priests encourage men to evangelize other men. Men see priests as preoccupied with women’s issues and believe that many priests may be afraid to specifically evangelize men. The lack of priest commitment to evangelize men is perhaps because bishops have not yet made the evangelization of men a priority; only 1 in 4 men think that their current bishop/diocese makes the evangelization of men a priority and 9 of 10 think that their bishop/diocese needs to do much more to evangelize and catechize men. It is clear that large numbers of the most faithful and practicing Catholic men are very dissatisfied with the commitment to evangelize men by their bishops and priests.
Few priests actively evangelize and catechize men – Starting with a general initial reaction to their pastor’s evangelization efforts, only 16% of respondents “strongly agreed” that their current priest makes the evangelization and catechesis of men a high priority and only 19% “strongly agreed” that their current priest was highly effective in the evangelization of men. Men were also asked their level of agreement as to their current pastor’s specific activities to evangelize and catechize men across 22 different categories (in the appendix, see categories listed in the section Men’s Evangelization and Catechesis Practices of Priests). Looking at respondents who “strongly agree” with how priests reach out to men across the 22 categories, the results suggest that some 80-90% of priests are not actively engaged in evangelizing men in critical areas.
Few priests have a “man-plan” – Only 7% of respondents “strongly agreed” that their priest had “a clear plan and program for the evangelization of men” and only 10% felt that their priest provided “sufficient parish resources for the evangelization of men.” Men commented on their priest’s lack of a “man-plan”:
He has been reluctant on doing anything just for men in the parish. He does not believe there would be enough participation.
Have a more male-centric agenda…the game plan is generic.
Speaks with a deep voice…and that’s about it.
In reviewing the over 1600 written comments, the most frequent response as to what men thought their priest was doing to effectively evangelize men was “Nothing.” Similarly, when asked what their current priest might do to more effectively evangelize men, the most frequent answer was “Anything.” The statistics and comments about the lack of a clear “man-plan” reinforce the strong belief among practicing Catholic men that the large majority of Catholic priests have not yet made the commitment to evangelize and catechize men. This suggests there is a strong case for optimism, for Catholic men simply want their bishops and priests to make an effort to evangelize and catechize men.
Few priests personally engage with men in their parishes – The survey indicates that only a few priests were clearly viewed by men (i.e. “strongly agree”) as making the personal effort to engage the men of their parishes on a regular basis:
11% are personally involved with teaching men’s groups.
14% take an active role in mentoring/providing spiritual direction to the men in the parish.
16% regularly show up for men’s events in the parish.
18% are active in supporting the Knights of Columbus.
Men were vocal in their disappointment about the lack of personal engagement by their priests:
He “allows” men’s programs in the parish but he is not one to help them flourish.
He could at least attend and support the Men’s Group.
Does not come to men’s groups, even upon invitation.
He needs to speak up and evangelize and catechize men himself without putting others in charge.
Spend more time with us.
Start reaching out to men. Our parish events are attended by 95% women.
Personally invite men to come to certain meetings.
Show an example of leadership through participating in parish events. Namely be involved in the catechesis of the men.
Quit hiding from us! We are not the enemy, and would love to support him as a priest.
Be more present in the parish — there’s a men’s group but he’s not there for the meetings. It’s probably not 100% his fault, though, as he has at least one other parish to cover.
Be more present instead of delegating.
He could work on relating to men on a one-on-one basis, getting to know the individuals and their needs and befriend parishioners. He could be present to those of the parish.
The Church has many great examples of men, such as Peter and Paul, who’s personal and active evangelization of men (and women) built the Church. It is insufficient for priests to only offer the Sacraments and participate in the many activities of the parish; at the core, the Church is sustained by the making of new disciples and building them up so as to make more disciples. From the massive losses and disengagement of Catholic men in the past decades, it is clear that the current efforts by bishops and priests to evangelize men are devastatingly insufficient. Pope Francis’ exhortation, “Priests need to smell like the sheep”, is a call to priests to personally and actively evangelize and catechize men, starting with the men in their current parishes; it starts by simply showing up on a frequent and regular basis.
Men think that many priests are too focused on women – As documented in the dozens of New Emangelization Project interviews with top Catholic men’s evangelists, men have a strong sense that the Catholic Church has become feminized; the feminization of the Church is confirmed by a recent online poll by a major Catholic website that found that 75% of those responding believe the Church “has become feminized.” These reactions are also confirmed by research that shows that 70-90% of roles in the parish are held by women and that two thirds of weekly Mass attenders are women; the “face” of the average parish is mostly feminine. A review of the documents of the New Evangelization from the Vatican and the USCCB show either a gender-neutral approach to evangelization or a growing emphasis on outreach to women (e.g. Mulieris Dignitatum, Letter to Women, the repeated emphasis by recent popes on the “feminine genius”, the recent “Women’s Cultures: Equality and Difference”, etc.); there have been no serious efforts to reach men.
The growing emphasis on women and the imbalance of women/men in parish roles and in the pews has become entrenched at the parish level and supported by priests. Men are being neglected by their bishops and priests and men are dissatisfied with the lack of outreach to men and the imbalanced emphasis on women:
He offers roles and offices, such as lector, server, Eucharistic minister, CCD teacher, etc. predominantly to women. I am the only male lector.
We had a men’s group that our current pastor passively resisted until it died; the men continue to serve the parish in a number of roles, but that’s it for focus on men as such. The women’s group continues to flourish.
Move away from the PC mentality that women might be offended by the existence of male groups.
First thing is take special effort to reach out to men without being afraid that the women will be offended.
Drop the pro-feminism support and support and strengthen the importance of men in this world as well as our parish.
He could make it a priority that laymen have a voice in our parish and actively recruit men for positions like faith formation leader.
By starting to care about men first. Priests surround themselves with women and call on women to lead most things in parishes.
Quit treating men as second-class persons.
The comments above and the New Emangelization Project interviews note the sensitivity that many women (and some priests) have about the role of women in the Church, which may lead some priests to want to avoid the evangelization and catechesis of men. Many in the Church, including recent popes, have called for a greater recognition of the dignity of women (by men, presumably). However, the Church and the world will not make meaningful progress in lifting up the dignity of women without a new and robust evangelization and catechesis of men. Misogynist men (and it is unclear just how prevalent these types of men are in the U.S. Catholic Church) or men who take women for granted will not be coerced or scolded into changing macho behaviors. Changing behaviors of men will require a conversion in Christ; until the Church makes a strong and sustained effort to evangelize and catechize Catholic men, there can be no serious progress in upholding the dignity of women.
It is clear that men (and many women) recognize that the U.S. Church has a dramatic female/male imbalance (e.g. it is feminized) because it is missing solid lay male involvement and participation in parish life. What is needed is not to lower women, but to elevate Catholic men through a newfound commitment to the evangelization and catechesis of men.
Few priests challenge men in their homilies – The vast majority of Catholic men (83%) “rarely or never” participate in the parish life outside of attending Mass; this means priests must actively reach the vast majority of men in homilies, if men are to be reached at all. Sadly, only 7% of men “strongly agree” their current priest “often speaks to the needs of men in homilies.”
Men realize they are being mostly ignored by priests and want their priests to talk directly to men in homilies about the issues that men face and to challenge men to become better Catholic men:
There are no challenges given in homilies to men to grow in their faith, and no emphasis on what authentic masculinity looks like. This leads to men who fall asleep at Mass and fall into sin outside of the Church.
He preaches well to a general audience, but he does not speak about things that concern men.
He gives weak and vague homilies, avoiding topics that pertain to men (especially controversial topics).
He should specifically refer to men occasionally in his homilies.
Ideally, he would speak more directly to the crisis of Catholic men and lead or encourage us to start more men’s groups at the parish.
Make it specifically about men. Actually preach about tough issues. Quit being so soft.
Teach specifics in his homily and lay out “expectations” for men. Lay out positive and negative impacts for behaviors (good and bad).
Speak more frequently in “bold colors, not pale pastels.” Need to hear more about Hell, the need for Confession, continue to condemn abortion and the evils of gay marriage for the sake of our children.
Light some fires. Homilies that are less entertaining but relevant to the battles men face daily. Step on some toes and proclaim the teachings of Christ’s Church. Take on the issues and defend with pure Catholicism.
Personally I would like him to defend the Church and its teaching more from the pulpit. He is a amazing homilist, but doesn’t ever preach on what the Church itself is trying to defend. He connects well with everyone, but men need to hear why our Church believes and teaches from the pulpit because not every man attends men’s groups.
He needs to challenge men, talk to them beyond saying “hello.” Preach on issues more personal to the crosses men carry. He tends to give generic homilies that try and walk the fence on everything.
Give more hard-hitting, frank and honest homilies that don’t avoid or gloss over difficult social and moral issues.
Most homilies are geared toward women, not men.
These comments demonstrate the frustration many men have with the lack of attention and failure by many priests to specifically challenge men in homilies. It is clear men are longing for priests to speak the truth about hard issues they face, rather than politically correct and bland homilies that fail to move the hearts and minds of men. Again, what is being voiced is men’s perceptions of the feminization of the Church through feminized/not-masculine homilies.
These findings again underscore the case for optimism in addressing the Catholic “man-crisis”. Men’s need for direction and the perceptions of the feminization of the Church can begin to be addressed through a priests’ commitment to regularly speak to men in homilies. Speaking to men in homilies on a regular basis is “low-hanging fruit” in the evangelization of men; it requires no additional time commitment by priests or new spending.
Few priests gather men together for men-specific events – Echoing the lack of attention to men in homilies by most priests, men also reported that very few priests gather men together for evangelization and catechesis outside the Mass. Few men “strongly agree” that their priests actively gather men together:
4% of priests “routinely bring fathers and sons together for prayer, teaching and fellowship.”
7% “lead groups of men to serve the poor and needy.”
8% “regularly gather men together for teaching, prayer and fellowship.”
9% “lead men on retreats and pilgrimages.”
11% “gather men together for Adoration of the Eucharist.”
The verbatim comments reveal that men want their priests to get personally involved and to begin to gather men together for a variety of different types of men-focused events, particularly events that draw young men and help men be better dads:
I think pastors should consider a monthly gathering and personally invite (one-on-one) men to attend; have refreshments and keep the meeting short–it cannot run over its scheduled time.
Schedule regular men’s teaching events.
Be more present to the young men in our parish, allow for more opportunities for father/son events, lead times of fellowship and prayer for young men in our parish.
Promote men programs that enable men to be better men, fathers, brothers, uncles, & parishioners.
My age group specifically feels left out. We are coming out of the college ministry and feel disconnected from the older men in the parish. We are almost left to fend for ourselves during a highly transitional point in our lives.
Specialized events or gatherings only for men and being open to talking about men’s issues with them. Taking more time to listen to the men of the parish. Organized efforts where men can feel like men and take on a more masculine role in the parish.
He could lead a bible study maybe! He has incredible knowledge of Scripture. He needs to teach more! He’s my inspiration!
Foster men’s retreats that truly evangelize men. There is more to life than only family ministry.
Monthly Man’s Mass or Father and Son Mass, followed with a short class or witness.
Support a men’s group, attend a men’s group, have a men’s retreat (we have a women’s retreat coming up, a women’s bible study, a moms group, etc.) and then be present at those things. We have a men’s conference in our archdiocese but no mention from the pulpit, just a blurb in the bulletin.
Host bible studies for men. Help foster men’s accountability groups. Discuss openly the struggles men go through in the secular world and give examples of Saints who have gone through those same struggles and prevailed.
Bridge the gap between cultural masculinity and the masculinity of the Saints.
Most priests have not yet made the commitment to specifically and systematically gather men together for prayer, the Sacraments and fellowship. Rather than complex and expensive new programs, men are longing for simple fraternity, with their priest and other men, to learn and practice the basics of the faith. Rather than “programitis”, priests need to build a parish culture in which men expect to be gathered by their priests and are expected to show up for men’s events for evangelization, catechesis, the Sacraments and prayer in Christ.
Few priests build groups of men to lead – Men routinely commented on the heavy burden that priests carry, observing the many priest have large (and multiple parishes) and schools to lead. Despite the fact that many priests are overloaded, few priests seek to harness the power of laymen to carry the burden; only 12% of respondents “strongly agreed” that their priest makes it a priority to call men to evangelize other men. Recognizing that priests are stretched thin, men commented on the need for priests to reach out and draw men into leadership positions to evangelize men:
Reach out to more men to get them involved.
Identify pockets of men who would participate in leading others into the faith. Involve them into creating groups of outreach to form friendships around the faith.
Appoint parishioners who will lead a men’s ministry and provide resources.
Encourage men to take up leadership in this evangelization process.
It is unrealistic to think that a priest can personally evangelize every man in his parish through one-on-one contact, though each priest should be able to point to large numbers of individual men that he has personally evangelized. If the New Evangelization is to gain momentum among men, priests will need to learn how to be more effective in mobilizing leaders within their parishes to evangelize other men. A note of encouragement: the survey echoes the New Emangelization Project interviews which suggest that there are large numbers of men who are willing and waiting to be called to a mission by their priests. The Church has a large and untapped source of latent energy to drive the New Evangelization; practicing Catholic men in the pews who are hungry and waiting to be called and led by their priests.
Bishops have not made men’s evangelization a priority – The lack of engagement by priests in the evangelization of men is perhaps not surprising, for the respondents felt that their diocese/archdiocese (i.e. their bishops) had not yet made men’s evangelization a priority; if bishops are not signaling the importance of evangelizing men through the bishops active personal engagement, priests are less likely to make men’s evangelization a priority.
Only 7% of men “strongly agreed” and only 20% “agreed” (total of 27%) that the “evangelization and catechesis of men is a priority” in their diocese/archdiocese.
An astounding 88% of respondents thought that their diocese/archdiocese “needs to do more to evangelize and catechize Catholic men.”
The New Emangelization Project has documented the catastrophic exodus of men from the Church and that the majority of men who remain “Catholic” are lukewarm, neither knowing nor practicing the faith. The survey indicates that large numbers of loyal practicing Catholic men feel neglected by their bishops and priests; neglect and dissatisfaction is likely a major contributing factor in the ongoing exodus of men from the Church. Without a dramatic new emphasis on the evangelization of men by bishops and the calling of priests to a new urgency to evangelize men by their bishops, the continued hemorrhaging of men from the Church is unlikely to be staunched.
2) Men must be challenged to aspire to Catholic Manhood
In a world that is increasingly confused about what manhood means and what it means to be Catholic, it is not surprising that many Catholic men see the need to be challenged with the truth of Catholic manhood. Unfortunately, men see few priests as decisively teaching men about Catholic manhood.
Priests are not challenging men to virtuous Catholic Manhood – The survey reveals that few men think their priests are challenging and teaching men how to be Catholic men, fathers and Saints:
Only 14% of the men surveyed “strongly agreed” their current priest helped “men understand how to be better Catholic men, husbands and fathers.”
18% “strongly agreed” that their priests challenged men to aspire to Sainthood.
The respondents voiced a strong desire to better understand how and to be challenged to be faithful Catholic men in the face of a culture in which men are under severe temptation and attack:
I do not get the feeling they (priests) are on a specific mission to instill the men or boys with the tools they need to become Catholic men.
Help better describe how to become better men.
Our pastor has not shown any special interest in catechizing men or challenging fathers to step up.
Directly address issues dealing with the necessity of men to be holy in order to be good dads, successful business men, courteous, courageous, and caring male role models for ALL young men with whom they come into contact.
He could create programs for evangelization and catechesis for men to give information what a Catholic man really is and inspire a Catholic man that he can make a difference in this age.
When authentic masculinity is explained to men from the ambo it gets them thinking.
Capture the hearts of men. Show men that being a Catholic man is an adventure to live and isn’t about being a nice guy.
To help men grow in their fatherhood whether in their families, or preparing young men to be good and holy fathers of families or of parishes.
Challenge men. You win the men, you win the family. Challenge them to be strong men.
Address issues of masculinity and what it means to be a real man in a world that is not particularly interested in real men.
Preach on more difficult topics, so as to educate the faithful on Church teaching and lead the way: educate men on the principles of authentic manhood, such as self-sacrifice, loyalty, being a protector (a smart protector, not simply a brute force protector), being an educator and mentor, and hold up the examples of holy men from the Church’s past: the saints, strong popes, and of course: St Joseph, and WHY he is the model of a working man, and obviously the model man: JESUS.
I think a better emphasis could be placed on the difference between men and women. I think that the differences in our spirituality/vocation are not defined well enough.
With the rise of radical feminism, homosexualism and gender fluidity theories, the growing confusion about sex and the breakdown of families that have left many men without the guidance of fathers, men are seeking to better understand what Catholic manhood means. In the increasingly confused and perverted post-modern culture, men need to be challenged and called to be men; the Church has always been the source of heavenly leaven in the broken cultures across time and only Catholic men, inspired into the challenging call of Catholic manhood, can lead the post-modern culture to new life in Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church.
Men are not challenged with the Truth – Essential to teaching the faith is to be clear about Truth as fully revealed by Christ in His Catholic Church, particularly in the face of a post-modern pluralistic and relativistic culture that rejects the idea of “truth.” Few respondents “strongly agreed” that their priest actively promoted truth on hard and controversial issues:
13% help men understand the Church’s teachings on tough issues like sexuality, marriage and contraception.
15% teach men to defend the Catholic faith with full loyalty to the Magisterium.
Men were particularly vocal about the need to be challenged with the Truth by their priests and disappointed that their priests were often seen as wishy-washy about professing the Truth of the Catholic faith:
He could drop the “God loves us and wants us to be happy” nonsense and teach the whole truth for a change.
Pastor is far too SAFE. He does not preach about doubt, temptation, and other real issues that men deal with enough. He seems to err on the safe (politically correct) side of things.
Speak up more about tough issues that men face and challenge the men more.
My parish is very focused on “being welcoming” which means we don’t teach hard teachings and don’t challenge people to grow just in case we might offend them with what the Church teaches.
Have the courage to preach on issues facing the Church (contraception, abortion, homosexual issues) and encourage the Faithful.
We need courageous priests, priests who will speak the Truth, and are not afraid of controversial issues. Priests with fire in their bellies, not priests who make the congregation go to sleep.
Hold men accountable (such as myself) who don’t show up to Mass and Reconciliation like we should.
They need to start drilling into men of the evils of lust and porn! Stop worrying about offending people! Start teaching men to start being men and the head of their family once again!
Actually talk about the evils of contraception, abortion, pre-marital sex, homosexual acts, etc, which at least 60% of parishioners will have been either involved in or tacitly support, but don’t know it is gravely sinful because they have never heard it preached in sermons.
Don’t minimize the diabolical as insignificant. People do go to Hell, contrary to what is preached.
Stop trying to be everyone’s friend. Stop trying to please people and start focusing on converting souls to God.
Men are hungry for the Truth and only the Catholic Church has the full and complete understanding of the Truth of God; men need to hear it! When men sense “fuzzy” thinking or distortion of something that they know to be true and important, they tune out; research shows that the single biggest reason people leave the Catholic Church is that they “simply drift away.” Men are hungry to be challenged with the Truth, especially in regards to sexuality and the temporal and eternal consequences of Sin.
3) Men need to be taught the basics of the Catholic faith
One of the reoccurring themes of the New Emangelization Project is that men have not learned the most basic elements of the faith and, as a result, don’t practice the faith. While the Church has a great reservoir of spiritual insight, the survey findings indicate that large numbers of men are not looking for sophisticated theology. Rather, men desire for their priests to more vigorously lead them to better know Jesus Christ, Mary and Joseph, to better understand and engage in the Sacraments, to learn how to pray and to learn basic apologetics. Learning the basics of the Catholic faith is critical for, in a post-modern culture that increasingly rejects faith, Catholic men who don’t know the faith can’t pass the faith along to their children.
Men are not being led to draw closer to Jesus, Mary and Joseph – Few priests are systematically teaching men to draw closer to Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Only 21% of men “strongly agree” that their priest teaches “men to draw closer to Jesus Christ” and only 17% of men “strongly agree” that their priest helps men “grow in their devotion to Our Mother, the Virgin Mary.”
Men want to have their priests teach them about the Perfect Manhood of Jesus Christ and promote a growing understanding and love for Mary and Joseph. Men commented:
We need to know the root of our disordered desires and understand them as Christ lived them out. Once we order all our thoughts and feelings towards the imitation of true masculinity, Jesus Christ, it becomes a battle that men want to fight. Men need a fight, a realization of the spiritual battle that we take part in every day.
Promote a consecration & devotion to Most Holy Mother Mary in hopes that she can help lead us to her son Jesus Christ, our Lord & Savior, and that we can then do the same for our families.
Promote devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph.
Give a more clear description of what it means to be a true man like St. Joseph.
Men need to be challenged and taught to engage in the Sacraments and in prayer – The Sacraments and prayer are essential for the spiritual lives of Catholic men. The New Evangelization Project research shows that large numbers of Catholic men do not understand or engage in the Mass, Reconciliation and prayer. Despite the urgent importance of drawing many more men into a passionate engagement in the Sacraments and prayer, few men “strongly agreed” that their priest was actively helping men to better understand and participate in the Sacraments and prayer:
16% teach men to understand and get more out of the Mass.
17% challenge men to get to Confession regularly.
Respondents thought that their priests needed to more effectively teach about the Mass, Adoration, Reconciliation and prayer, and to lead men to more fully engage in the Sacraments:
Take time to teach men how worship of God begins: at the Sacraments.
In my opinion, orthodoxy attracts men to the liturgy and the sacraments because it helps our bodies realize the wonderful mystery that is the Mass.
Speak to people about the rubrics and the liturgy and what we are all supposed to do or not do.
Offer more Confession.
I think the first step is to increase the frequency of Confession in the parish, and help men to grow in devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Hold monthly evenings consisting of Adoration, catechesis, Reconciliation, and general spiritual direction for single and married men, using one or two reliable laymen to assist as organizers. This could serve as a template or foundation to grow ministry to men.
Teach men how to pray.
Despite the fact that the men who responded in the survey are practicing Catholic men, they sense the need to grow in their understanding of the Mass, Confession and prayer. The majority of Catholic men who are not practicing the faith have an even greater need; it is imperative for priests to evangelize and catechize men on the fundamentals of the faith (e.g. Sacraments and prayer).
Help men learn and defend the faith – The New Emangelization Project research shows that half of Catholic men cannot adequately explain the Catholic faith to others. Only 15% of survey respondents “strongly agreed” their current pastor taught “men to defend the Catholic faith with full loyalty to the Magisterium.” Respondents commented about the need to help men better defend the faith:
Teach men to defend the faith.
I believe people need to know their faith and be able to defend it and take part in apologetics. We need a reawakening.
More homilies which discuss the reality of Hell, and discuss the unique Truth, that it is the Catholic Church which is the Church founded by Jesus Christ; and that we must be willing and prepared to confront and defeat the arguments of people who teach otherwise.
The lack of solid evangelization and catechesis has contributed to the exodus of Catholic men from the Church. Men who don’t know the faith won’t stay in the faith.
4) The lack of Catholic fraternity hurts men’s faith lives
A key surprise was that significant numbers of the highly committed Catholic men who participated in the survey lacked acquaintances, close friends and bonds of brotherhood in their parishes:
Only 16% of respondents “strongly agreed” that they have strong bonds of brotherhood with other men in their parish.
55% of respondents do not feel they have strong bonds of brotherhood in their parish.
31% of respondents do not have a close friendship with any other man in their parish. Another 30% only have a close friendship with only 1-2 other men in their parish.
55% of respondents knew less than 10 men on a first name basis in their parish.
Despite the current lack of fraternity among Catholic men, the Church has historically emphasized the importance of building fraternity among men as a key to evangelization:
“Iron sharpens iron, as one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42).
Indeed, greater fraternity leads men to have more robust faith lives. Men who did have strong bonds of brotherhood in their parish were much more likely to more fully engage in the faith than those men who did not have strong bonds of brotherhood. Men with strong bonds of brotherhood were:
15% more likely to pray on a daily basis.
29% more likely to look forward to going to Mass.
30% more likely to go to Confession monthly.
35% more likely to pray the Rosary at least monthly.
56% more likely to read Scripture weekly.
83% more likely to be daily Mass attenders.
160% more likely to regularly volunteer at the parish.
226% more likely to have Catholic male friends to encourage them in faith life.
335% more likely to participate in men’s events at least monthly.
The impact of fraternity on the faith lives of men is even more impressive considering that the level of engagement in the faith of the respondents was exceptionally high to begin with; the findings suggest that committed Catholic men become even more committed when they have strong fraternity in their parishes.
Few priests are actively seeking to address the lack of fraternity. Despite the fact that the New Evangelization has been a growing priority for the Church for a number of decades, the survey reveals that only 12% of respondents “strongly agreed” that their priests make it a priority to call men to evangelize other men, which is at the core of building fraternity.
A number of respondents felt the lack of fraternity was hurting the men in their parishes:
There is a big lack of fraternity in our parishes and fraternity has to be strengthened. We see each other once a week and say hello and maybe talk a little. Some men are friends and know each other better but most of them are actually complete strangers.
Make an effort to get to know me and not just smile and say “Hi” as I leave the parish. In fact, few people really socialize after Mass. They rush for the doors. I get the feeling that folks just don’t much care if folks my age come or not come to Mass. I feel worthless as a Catholic. I love the Church, but feel as though that love is not returned.
Lead a men’s group that not only looks at spirituality but also take some time for fellowship.
Specifically encourage men to gather and pray and study together. Perhaps even initiate a group for manly fellowship.
The survey underscores the power and impact of fraternity in building the faith lives of Catholic men and that few priests are actively building fraternity among men in their parishes. While the lack of fraternity is troubling, the survey offers cause for hope; given the power of fraternity and the current lack of the majority of priests to build fraternity, a newfound commitment by many priests to simply gather men together on a regular basis will have a dramatic impact. Again, massive and expensive programs are not needed; what’s needed is a new zeal by priests to begin to routinely call men of their parishes into Catholic fraternity.
5) Men hunger for a more reverential Mass
Since Vatican II, there have been drastic changes as to how the Mass has been celebrated in the majority of parishes, with the Novus Ordo replacing the traditional Latin Mass. There has been significant liturgical experimentation including the priest’s actions (e.g. the move from ad orientum to ad populum), changes in architecture (e.g. removal of the high altars, Tabernacle, Communion rails, etc.), a move away from chant to folk/modern music, the introduction of Eucharist ministers and the introduction of girl altar servers. As noted above, during the same timeframe, large numbers of Catholic men have left the faith. Since 83% of Catholic men rarely or never participate in a parish activity outside of the Mass and their only exposure to parish faith life is in the Mass, it is reasonable to assume that the significant changes in the Mass have in some way contributed to the exodus of Catholic men.
The survey underscores the fact that many men sense that a de-sacralization of the Mass has occurred and that many priests are failing to offer the Mass in a way that inspires men and draws them deeper into the faith:
Only 32% of respondents “strongly agreed” that their priests are offering the Mass in a way that is reverent and that draws men into a deeper communion with Christ.
Many men voiced concerns about the de-sacralization and feminization of the Mass and passionately argued for the Mass to be offered in more reverent way that can resonate more strongly with men:
Be open to the men of the parish who desire a more faith-filled and reverent liturgy. Stop trying to undo the traditions of the Church’s liturgy to appease people or to limit the Mass to 60 minutes or less.
Would like to see him [the priest] encourage increased reverence and a return to the central point of the Church, The Holy Eucharist! Bring back the reverence and focus on Christ’s Real Presence so the pastor’s over-emphasis on social justice is balanced and enhanced by finding Christ first in the Sacrament to be energized to perform all other duties.
In my opinion, orthodoxy attracts men to the liturgy and the Sacraments because it helps our bodies realize the wonderful mystery that is the Mass.
Greater focus on not rushing through Mass and Confessions.
Offer the traditional Latin Mass, or at least say Mass facing away from the congregation, thus being a man leading us in worship, not our buddy taking to the people, instead of the risen Lord.
I think that because the liturgical director is a woman that the choices made for songs and other things do not appeal to men.
Re-establish the Catholic identity of the parish, particularly through the liturgy, which is currently so minimalistic and casual as to be embarrassing to those whom I invite to Mass.
I think you are missing out in discussing the music ministry/organist. A priest can do a great job in celebrating a liturgy, but sometimes the music is uninspired or feminine-focused. Not a lot of challenges. My pastor needs to ignite a flame underneath the organist and somehow craft more full liturgies.
I would be happy if a priest started saying Mass in the Extraordinary Form. This is a form where the altar servers have a more active role. In incensing, in speaking responses with the priest, in having a role in the liturgy and learning/interacting with the priest during parts of the Mass. In a very practical sense, it is a way for priests to build connections with young men.
Preach the truth and reclaim the masculinity of the Mass.
He could offer the Mass more reverently and carefully, so that the seriousness and masculinity of the priesthood is made more apparent.
Offer an Extraordinary Form Mass if not weekly, at least monthly, to connect men to their patrimony and their father’s main mode of worship.
The most effective thing he could do is to celebrate the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass ad orientem because it puts the focus on God and not the priest. That draws men into the parish. Parishes that use the hermeneutic of continuity that Pope Benedict XVI spoke of have men packed into the parish. Men are drawn to the ritual of the Mass in a way that the pervasive community aspect of the parish cannot. Use the smells and bells, so to speak, to reveal the holiness that is already present in the Mass and men and women will be drawn to the Sacrifice of the Mass.
Everything, not just my own pastor, could be more masculine and not watered down. I am tired of all the niceties that have been put into the Mass. It is a masculine, sacred service; not a warm, gooey, how are you, peace be with you, lets all hug service. This, in my opinion, has destroyed the faith of countless men everywhere!
More reverent, traditional, masculine liturgy. Get rid of female altar servers and all of the EMHCs. More Gregorian chant (by men). Get rid of all wimpy and fluffy music.
Compounding the non-masculine/de-sacralized offering of the Mass in so many parishes (e.g. female altar servers, modernistic architecture that focuses on the communal, feminized and/or sappy music, etc.), the New Emangelization Project interviews consistently raise the issue that the vast majority of Catholic men have a lack of understanding for the majesty and masculinity of the Mass and how to fully participate within the Mass. Given the centrality of the Mass as the “source and summit” of the faith, it seems clear that bishops and priests should make it a priority to ensure that every man knows the Mass.
6) Priests who focus on men have great impact
Priests who make it priority to evangelize and catechize men dramatically increase men’s understanding and practice of the Catholic faith. Priests who are committed to men make committed Catholic men.
Priests can build men’s faith lives – Men who rated their priests as highly effective in evangelizing men versus those men who rated their priests as highly ineffective in evangelizing men were:
20% more likely to be daily Mass attenders.
25% more likely to regularly volunteer at the parish.
26% more likely to read Scripture weekly.
Know 20% more men on a first-name basis in their parish.
40% more likely to participate in men’s events.
70% more likely to have close friendships with other men in their parishes.
74% more likely to have other Catholic men to encourage them in their faith lives.
111% more likely to feel they have a bond of brotherhood with other men in their parish.
In addition to the above impact, priests rated highly effective in the evangelization of men also showed modest increases in men’s weekly Mass attendance (+7%), monthly Confession (+3%) and the frequency of praying on a daily basis (+6%). While these increases may appear small, they are remarkable, for all the respondents were already highly committed Catholic men. If priests can have positive impact on highly faithful Catholic men, it is reasonable to conclude that highly effective priest evangelizers can have a very high impact on the faith lives of men who are casual in their faith.
Digging in deeper, priests who were rated as highly effective in specific evangelization topics had a strong impact on the faith lives of their men. When priests emphasize the evangelization and catechesis of men on the topics of Sin and the Sacraments, it leads men to engage the Sacraments more frequently:
13% of priests were rated highly in helping men understand the Church’s teachings on tough issues like sexuality, marriage and contraception had men who were 31% more likely to go to Confession monthly.
16% of priests were rated highly in teaching men how to understand and get more out of the Mass had men who were 40% more likely to attend daily Mass.
Priests who personally engage men lead to more engaged men – Priests who seek to engage men personally, draw men in to a more robust faith life. When a priest personally teaches a bible study, men are 30% more likely to participate. When a priest regularly shows up for men’s events, men are 70% more likely to show up for weekly men’s group events. When priests actively support the Knights of Columbus, men are more likely to be Knights (+25%).
The priests who actively challenge their men to evangelize other men also yields fruit; their men are much more likely to have Catholic male friends who encourage them in their faith life (+57%) and feel bonds of brotherhood in their parishes (+ 131%) versus those priests who do not encourage men to evangelize other men.
This survey makes it clear that priests who make a commitment to personally engage their men in evangelization and catechesis have a dramatic impact on the faith lives of their men; men pray more, engage the Sacraments more frequently, have deeper bonds of brotherhood and are more active in their parishes.
7) Men will follow priests who lead
Given that the respondents are passionate about the faith and most respondents feel neglected by the majority of bishops and priests, it is to be expected that many men voiced strong frustration with their priests. Sadly, the most common response to what priests were doing well in the evangelization of men was “nothing” and the most common response for what priests could start doing to improve was “anything.”
Men want priests to lead – Men lament the lack of leadership by their priests; the large numbers of Catholic men leaving the faith and the strong negative survey feedback confirms that current priest efforts to evangelize men are disastrously insufficient. Men strongly desire to have a relationship with their priests, especially those men who are on fire to evangelize other men. Too often, men get discouraged because they can’t get help and engagement from their priests. Men perceive some priests to be weak and soft, afraid to actively engage tough issues with a forceful and uncompromising presentation of Catholic doctrine:
Drop the attitude of “I will give you the Sacraments if you come to me” and start to hunt after lost souls like St. Paul or Bishop Sheen; in other words go out and evangelize men with passion. He [my priest] needs to stop waiting for souls to show up.
You gave your life in celibacy to God, which is wonderful, but God didn’t take away your stones, so pull up your jockeys and man up with the rest of us, it’s tough out here and we sure could use your help!
My pastor needs to stop trying to please the modern world and start talking more about Heaven, Hell and the afterlife. He needs to have more courage and proclaim the Truth. It almost seems that that my pastor is terrified to speak on the important issues of the day or the hard Catholics Truths taught to us by our blessed Lord. He seems scared to proclaim the Truth. He has to call a Sin a Sin and not try and water down the faith.
In all humility, myself and another male friend of mine do more to recruit other men, and teach orthodoxy to the youth we work with–than I witness the clergy do in my parish. I find most priests to practice a “Joel Osteen,” type of faith…Well, I have a Father Larry Richards type of faith….(Be a Man)…More priests need to understand his approach ad teach men to “Be a Man.”
He should be more involved in men’s group. He supports it but he really needs to be present and even lead it.
Address relevant issues directly and strongly. Display a more commanding and powerful presence.
He could do anything. Literally anything. He could stop worrying about being so danged inclusive too.
He should live and preach the teachings of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. He should support pro-life theology and programs. He should stop promoting Protestant-like teachings; he should stop promoting pro-abortion politicians and stop promoting Planned Parenthood initiatives. He should attend the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil at the local abortion facility as a representative of our parish. He should attend Diocesan and community pro-life rallies. He should promote, support, and participate in Eucharistic Adoration.
Priests need to avoid effeminacy and be more manly – While there wasn’t a specific question on the effeminacy or homosexuality of priests on the survey, some men exhorted their priests to behave in a more manly way:
Be more manly!
Encourage more straight men to get involved (currently ~80% of lead male volunteers in our parish are gay men, which is not representative of the parish).
First, start by being more masculine.
Talk about men, like a man.
Be more manly even though the women gave our previous pastor a lot of flak for that.
Resign and go minister to old women in nursing homes.
Men are ready to follow the majority of priests – Despite the criticism that some men leveled against some priests, men believe that the large majority of priests have the ability to lead men effectively. To gauge the level of respect for priests, men were asked to state their level of agreement with four statements about their current priest’s personal characteristics:
Is a leader who men look up to and will follow.
Inspires men with his wisdom, fortitude and personal witness.
Is able to connect/relate well to men.
Has a personal holiness that inspires men.
By analyzing the results from the men’s ratings, priests fall into three broad respect categories:
Priests with high respect – 50-60% of the respondents “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the 4 statements of respect for their current priest.
Priests with moderate respect – 20-30% of men had moderate respect (neither outstanding nor negative) about their current priest on the 4 statements of respect.
Priests with low respect – 15-20% of men “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed” with the 4 statements of respect for their current priest.
These results suggest the personal characteristics of most priests are not a barrier to the evangelization of men; 70-80% of priests already have men’s respect and only 15-20% of priests have made a negative impression on men. While men rated a minority of priests with low respect, it is possible that men’s frustration with low-involvement priests led them to rate their priests lower on the respect scale. It is clear that men strongly desire their priests to lead and that priests who lead can be assured that many men will follow.
* * * * *
The Helping Priests Become More Effective in Evangelizing Men Survey is one of largest surveys in recent years specifically targeting U.S. Catholic men, reaching large numbers of practicing Catholic men across age groups and zip codes. The survey suggests large numbers of faithful Catholic men are frustrated with the lack of engagement by priests and the majority of men feel neglected by their bishops.
Despite the well-documented mass exodus of Catholic men from the Church, the large numbers of lukewarm Catholic men who do not know and practice the faith, and the extremely low engagement of priests in the evangelization of men, the survey offers real hope that solid progress can be made. The survey demonstrates that priests who make it a personal priority to evangelize Catholic men have a significant impact on the faith lives of their men. Also hopeful, the large majority of current priests have the personal leadership characteristics that men respect and men are prepared to follow priests who take the initiative to lead. The survey reinforces the New Emangelization Project findings that what is needed is not dramatic new spending or programs, but the commitment of bishops and priests to personally engage men on a regular basis, drawing them 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 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 Emangelization” 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 Emangelization” 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).
About the New Emangelization Project – The New Emangelization Project was launched in 2013 with the objective to confront the Catholic “man-crisis” and to develop new ardor, methods and expressions to draw millions of Catholic men to Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church. Since then, a Catholic “Man-crisis” Factsheet has been developed, dozens of interviews have been conducted with leading bishops, priests and lay evangelists and the Helping Priests Become More Effective at Evangelizing Men Survey has been fielded. For more information, please see NewEmangelization.com.
Helping Priests Become More Effective in Evangelizing Men
The Helping Priests Become More Effective in the Evangelization of Men Survey was fielded in September/October 2014 (September 29-October 20, 2014). It was fielded via the internet, targeting men who read/follow Catholic men’s websites.
The survey was completed by 1495 Catholic U.S. laymen consisting of:
- By age (N=1493):
- 29 (2%) who were 17 years of age or younger.
- 236 (16%) who were 18-24.
- 305 (21%) ages 25-34.
- 313 (21%) ages 35-44.
- 321 (21%) ages 45-54.
- 207 (14%) ages 55-64.
- 65 (4%) ages 65-74.
- 17 (1%) ages 75 and older.
- By fatherhood (N=1483):
- 929 (63%) were fathers.
- 554 (37%) were not fathers.
- Whether Knight of Columbus or not (N=1481):
- 585 (40%) were KOC.
- 896 (60%) were not KOC.
- Mass attendance (N=1491):
- 102 (7%) were daily mass attenders.
- 418 (28%) were several times a week mass attenders.
- 852 (57%) were weekly mass attenders.
- 56 (4%) were several times a month mass attenders.
- 14 (1%) were once a month mass attenders.
- 31 (2%) were several times a year mass attenders.
- 13 (1%) were less than once a year mass attenders.
- 5 (.6%) never attend mass.
- Confession/Reconciliation (N=1489):
- 91 (6%) go once a week or more.
- 244 (16%) go several times a month.
- 408 (27%) go once a month.
- 512 (34%) go several times a year.
- 201 (14%) go less than once a year.
- 33 (2%) go never.
- Reading of Scripture (N=1488):
- 328 (22%) daily.
- 444 (30%) several times a week.
- 332 (22%) several times a month.
- 89 (6%) once a month.
- 194 (13%) several times a year.
- 68 (5%) less than once a year.
- 33 (2%) never.
- Prayer (N=1487):
- 1232 (83%) daily.
- 189 (13%) several times a week.
- 42 (3%) several times a month.
- 8 (.5%) once a month.
- 11 (.7%) several times a year.
- 1 (.1%) less than once a year.
- 4 (.3%) never.
- Praying the Rosary (N=1487):
- 342 (23%) daily.
- 269 (18%) several times a week.
- 297 (20%) several times a month.
- 150 (10%) once a month.
- 280 (19%) several times a year.
- 92 (6%) less than once a year.
- 57 (4%) never.
- Practicing Catholic (N=1489):
- 125 (8%) Strongly Disagree.
- 27 (2%) Disagree.
- 27 (2%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 147 (10%) Agree.
- 1163 (78%) Strongly Agree.
- Participate in a Men’s group (N=1490):
- 299 (20%) weekly.
- 179 (12%) several times a month.
- 145 (10%) once a month.
- 206 (14%) several times a year.
- 177 (12%) less than once a year.
- 484 (32%) never.
- Help at the parish (N=1489):
- 503 (34%) weekly.
- 220 (15%) several times a month.
- 106 (7%) once a month.
- 252 (17%) several times a year.
- 163 (11%) less than once a year.
- 245 (16%) never.
- Acceptance of Church teachings (N=1489):
- 1258 (85%) Full agreement.
- 213 (14%) Mostly agree.
- 18 (1%) Have strong disagreements.
- I am very proud to be a Catholic man (N=1498):
- 33 (2%) Strongly Disagree.
- 3 (.2%) Disagree.
- 31 (2%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 116 (8%) Agree.
- 1306 (88%) Strongly Agree.
- Being a Catholic man has made me a much better man (N=1487):
- 25 (2%) Strongly Disagree.
- 6 (.4%) Disagree.
- 34 (2%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 147 (10%) Agree.
- 1275 (86%) Strongly Agree.
- I very much look forward to going to Mass (N=1485):
- 28 (2%) Strongly Disagree.
- 29 (2%) Disagree.
- 76 (5%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 311 (21%) Agree.
- 1041 (70%) Strongly Agree.
- Have Catholic male friends who regularly encourage in my faith life (N=1491):
- 226 (15%) Strongly Disagree.
- 177 (12%) Disagree.
- 168 (11%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 417 (28%) Agree.
- 503 (34%) Strongly Agree.
- Feel a bond of brotherhood with men in my parish (N=1489):
- 264 (18%) Strongly Disagree.
- 255 (17%) Disagree.
- 289 (19%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 445 (30%) Agree.
- 236 (16%) Strongly Agree.
- Number of men in my parish with whom I have a close friendship (N=1484):
- 466 (31%) 0.
- 446 (30%) 1-2.
- 303 (20%) 3-5.
- 164 (11%) 6-10.
- 105 (7%) More than 10.
- Number of men in my parish with whom I know on a first name basis (N=1486):
- 118 (8%) 0.
- 412 (28%) 1-5.
- 284 (19%) 6-10.
- 243 (16%) 11-20.
- 429 (29%) More than 20.
Overall Rating of Current Pastor
- My current pastor is highly effective in evangelization and catechizing the men in our parish (N=1444):
- 184 (13%) Strongly Disagree.
- 204 (14%) Disagree.
- 349 (24%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 433 (30%) Agree.
- 274 (19%) Strongly Agree.
- My current pastor makes the evangelization and catechizing the men in our parish a high priority (N=1441):
- 219 (15%) Strongly Disagree.
- 224 (16%) Disagree.
- 458 (32%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 305 (21%) Agree.
- 235 (16%) Strongly Agree.
- My current pastor cares deeply about the evangelization and catechesis of men in our parish (N=1441):
- 134 (9%) Strongly Disagree.
- 155 (11%) Disagree.
- 409 (28%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 379 (26%) Agree.
- 364 (25%) Strongly Agree.
- My current pastor has had a significant impact on my faith life (N=1440):
- 207 (14%) Strongly Disagree.
- 189 (13%) Disagree.
- 294 (20%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 385 (27%) Agree.
- 365 (25%) Strongly Agree.
Men’s Evangelization and Catechesis Practices of Priests
My current pastor:
Routinely brings fathers and sons together for prayer, teaching and fellowship (N=1395; average rating = 2.32):
- 411 (29%) Strongly Disagree.
- 329 (24%) Disagree.
- 504 (36%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 97 (7%) Agree.
- 54 (4%) Strongly Agree.
Has a clear plan and program for the evangelization of men (N=1395; average rating = 2.51):
- 362 (26%) Strongly Disagree.
- 299 (21%) Disagree.
- 485 (35%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 157 (11%) Agree.
- 92 (7%) Strongly Agree.
Regularly gathers men together for teaching, prayer and fellowship (N=1395; average rating = 2.59):
- 340 (24%) Strongly Disagree.
- 294 (21%) Disagree.
- 467 (33%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 187 (13%) Agree.
- 107 (8%) Strongly Agree.
Gathers men together for Adoration of the Eucharist (N=1402; average rating = 2.70):
- 329 (23%) Strongly Disagree.
- 301 (21%) Disagree.
- 392 (28%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 225 (16%) Agree.
- 155 (11%) Strongly Agree.
Often speaks to the needs of men in his homilies (N=1422; average rating = 2.74):
- 269 (19%) Strongly Disagree.
- 310 (22%) Disagree.
- 466 (33%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 271 (19%) Agree.
- 106 (7%) Strongly Agree.
Is personally involved with teaching men’s groups (e.g. Bible Studies, men’s groups, etc.)(N=1402; average rating = 2.75):
- 301 (21%) Strongly Disagree.
- 257 (18%) Disagree.
- 478 (34%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 217 (16%) Agree.
- 149 (11%) Strongly Agree.
Leads groups of men to serve the poor and needy (N=1396; average rating = 2.75):
- 274 (20%) Strongly Disagree.
- 233 (17%) Disagree.
- 558 (40%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 236 (17%) Agree.
- 95 (7%) Strongly Agree.
Leads men on retreats and pilgrimages (N=1389; average rating = 2.76):
- 284 (20%) Strongly Disagree.
- 249 (18%) Disagree.
- 501 (36%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 226 (16%) Agree.
- 129 (9%) Strongly Agree.
Provides sufficient parish resources of the evangelization of men (N=1397; average rating = 2.82):
- 248 (18%) Strongly Disagree.
- 286 (20%) Disagree.
- 472 (34%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 249 (18%) Agree.
- 142 (10%) Strongly Agree.
Helps men understand the Church’s teachings on tough issues like sexuality, marriage and contraception (N=1416; average rating = 2.83):
- 325 (23%) Strongly Disagree.
- 284 (20%) Disagree.
- 299 (21%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 317 (23%) Agree.
- 191 (13%) Strongly Agree.
Challenges men to evangelize other men (N=1391; average rating = 2.84):
- 290 (21%) Strongly Disagree.
- 218 (16%) Disagree.
- 482 (35%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 232 (17%) Agree.
- 169 (12%) Strongly Agree.
Teaches men to defend the Catholic faith with full loyalty to the Magisterium (N=1397; average rating = 2.90):
- 291 (21%) Strongly Disagree.
- 234 (17%) Disagree.
- 404 (29%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 265 (19%) Agree.
- 203 (15%) Strongly Agree.
Challenges men to get to Confession regularly (N=1402; average rating = 3.01):
- 261 (19%) Strongly Disagree.
- 240 (17%) Disagree.
- 356 (25%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 311 (22%) Agree.
- 234 (17%) Strongly Agree.
Has taught men to understand and get more out of the Mass (N=1407; average rating = 3.03):
- 230 (16%) Strongly Disagree.
- 254 (18%) Disagree.
- 386 (27%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 313 (22%) Agree.
- 224 (16%) Strongly Agree.
Takes an active role in mentoring/providing spiritual direction to the men in the parish (N=1386; average rating = 3.05):
- 211 (15%) Strongly Disagree.
- 182 (13%) Disagree.
- 505 (36%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 301 (22%) Agree.
- 187 (14%) Strongly Agree.
Helps men understand how to be better Catholic, men, husbands and fathers (N=1414; average rating = 3.06):
- 224 (16%) Strongly Disagree.
- 249 (18%) Disagree.
- 354 (25%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 386 (27%) Agree.
- 201 (14%) Strongly Agree.
Challenges men to aspire to Sainthood (N=1412; average rating = 3.12):
- 239 (17%) Strongly Disagree.
- 230 (16%) Disagree.
- 318 (23%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 367 (26%) Agree.
- 258 (18%) Strongly Agree.
Helps men grow in their devotion to Our Mother, the Virgin Mary (N=1408; average rating = 3.13):
- 224 (16%) Strongly Disagree.
- 206 (15%) Disagree.
- 381 (27%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 356 (25%) Agree.
- 241 (17%) Strongly Agree.
Regularly shows up for men’s events in the parish (N=1390; average rating = 3.23):
- 136 (10%) Strongly Disagree.
- 148 (11%) Disagree.
- 583 (42%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 303 (22%) Agree.
- 220 (16%) Strongly Agree.
Is active in supporting the Knights of Columbus (N=1391; average rating = 3.30):
- 142 (10%) Strongly Disagree.
- 134 (10%) Disagree.
- 527 (38%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 338 (24%) Agree.
- 250 (18%) Strongly Agree.
Teaches men to draw closer to Jesus Christ (N=1516; average rating = 3.38):
- 177 (13%) Strongly Disagree.
- 173 (12%) Disagree.
- 295 (21%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 466 (33%) Agree.
- 295 (21%) Strongly Agree.
Offers the Mass in a way that is reverent and draws men into a deeper communion with Christ (N=1519; average rating = 3:56):
- 157 (11%) Strongly Disagree.
- 163 (12%) Disagree.
- 262 (18%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 382 (27%) Agree.
- 446 (32%) Strongly Agree.
Perception of Priest’s Ability to Evangelize Men
My current pastor:
Is a leader who men look up to and will follow (N=1300; average rating = 3.43):
- 134 (10%) Strongly Disagree.
- 152 (12%) Disagree.
- 351 (27%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 349 (27%) Agree.
- 314 (24%) Strongly Agree.
Inspires men with his wisdom, fortitude and personal witness (N=1302; average rating = 3:48):
- 134 (10%) Strongly Disagree.
- 130 (10%) Disagree.
- 349 (27%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 360 (28%) Agree.
- 329 (25%) Strongly Agree.
Has many male friends in the parish (N=1301; average rating = 3.49):
- 80 (6%) Strongly Disagree.
- 99 (8%) Disagree.
- 529 (41%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 294 (23%) Agree.
- 299 (23%) Strongly Agree.
Challenges men to grow in their faith (N=1301; average rating = 3:53):
- 129 (10%) Strongly Disagree.
- 129 (10%) Disagree.
- 296 (23%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 411 (32%) Agree.
- 336 (26%) Strongly Agree.
Understands and cares about the issues men face (N=1396; average rating = 3.56):
- 93 (7%) Strongly Disagree.
- 120 (9%) Disagree.
- 404 (31%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 366 (28%) Agree.
- 321 (25%) Strongly Agree.
Is able to connect/relate well with men (N=1303; average rating = 3.63):
- 93 (7%) Strongly Disagree.
- 131 (10%) Disagree.
- 302 (23%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 414 (32%) Agree.
- 362 (28%) Strongly Agree.
Has a personal holiness that inspires men (e.g. Bible Studies, men’s groups, etc.)(N=1303; average rating = 3.67):
- 103 (8%) Strongly Disagree.
- 115 (9%) Disagree.
- 294 (23%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 388 (30%) Agree.
- 403 (31%) Strongly Agree.
Satisfaction with Men’s Evangelization by Bishop/Diocese
In my Diocese/Archdiocese, the evangelization and catechesis of men is a priority (N=1214):
- 205 (17%) Strongly Disagree.
- 309 (25%) Disagree.
- 373 (31%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 242 (20%) Agree.
- 85 (7%) Strongly Agree.
I think my Diocese/Archdiocese needs to do more to evangelize and catechize Catholic men (N=1308):
- 31 (2%) Strongly Disagree.
- 22 (2%) Disagree.
- 93 (8%) Neither Disagree nor Agree.
- 328 (27%) Agree.
- 749 (61%) Strongly Agree.
 Center for Applied Research into the Apostolate, http://cara.georgetown.edu/caraservices/requestedchurchstats.html.
 Catholic “Man-Crisis” Factsheet; http://www.newemangelization.com/man-crisis/the-catholic-man-crisis-factsheet/.
 Alan Cooperman, et al, “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (May 2015), http://www.pewforum.org/files/2015/05/RLS-05-08-full-report.pdf.
 The New Emangelization Project, http://www.newemangelization.com/interviews-3/.
 Catholic “Man-Crisis” Factsheet; http://www.newemangelization.com/man-crisis/the-catholic-man-crisis-factsheet/.
 The New Emangelization Project, http://www.newemangelization.com/interviews-3/.
 David C. Leege and Thomas A. Trozzolo, “Participation in Catholic Parish Life: Religious Rites and Parish Activities in the 1980s,” Notre Dame Study of Catholic Parish Life, Issue 3 (1985): 14.
 “Gallup Poll of Catholics, 2005”, Question 75, http://www.thearda.com/Archive/Files/Codebooks/GALLUP05_CB.asp.
 “Gallup Survey of Chicago Catholics, 2007”, Question 157, http://www.thearda.com/Archive/Files/Codebooks/CHICATH_CB.asp.
 Luis Lugo et al., “Faith in Flux,” The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (April 2009): 24.
 Catholic “Man-Crisis” Factsheet; http://www.newemangelization.com/man-crisis/the-catholic-man-crisis-factsheet/.
 “Gallup Poll of Catholics, 2005”, Question 23, http://www.thearda.com/Archive/Files/Codebooks/GALLUP05_CB.asp.
 “Gallup Survey of Chicago Catholics, 2007”, Question 157, http://www.thearda.com/Archive/Files/Codebooks/CHICATH_CB.asp.