Local Parishes

Men’s ministry emphasizes faith, fidelity

That Man is You usually starts with a video, selected from a range of topics, that lasts about 30 minutes. After the video, the men engage in small group discussions. From left are: Jerry Herbert, Gabe Lyssy, Al Osborne and Jim Mansfield. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATHRYN WHITE

by Joe Bollig

LENEXA — Are you a morning person? Jesse Luck-Smith is emphatically not a morning person, and if you’re like him, you’d just as soon leave all the worms for the early bird.

Nevertheless, on certain Tuesdays for nine years, Luck-Smith has been fighting the snooze button to help run a men’s ministry at Holy Trinity Parish called That Man Is You.

Most of the other That Man groups in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas meet early on a weekday as well.

“Our best day of the week to meet is Tuesdays,” said Luck-Smith, core team leader and co-founder of his group. “Because of our busy schedules, early mornings are almost a must. So, we meet at 6 a.m. and it ends at 7:30 a.m. every Tuesday for 13 weeks in the fall and 13 weeks in the spring.

“I’m not a morning person, so it’s funny how God works things out.”

Jesse Luck-Smith helps run a men’s ministry at Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa called That Man Is You. The group meets weekly on Tuesdays at 6 a.m. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATHRYN WHITE

That Man is one of four programs promoted and supported by Paradisus Dei (Latin for “Paradise of God”), which was founded in 2001 as an independent lay-led Catholic ministry to families.

That Man is a ministry for adult men. Each group is usually comprised of parishioners.

“That Man Is You is an adult faith formation aid directed toward men that is modeled after St. Joseph as leader of the Holy Family,” said Dave Brill, small group leader coordinator, who’s been with the group since it was founded in the parish.

“It deals with the realities and struggles Catholic men face in our culture. It nurtures fatherhood and fidelity in support of our marriages,” he said. “And there’s an element of developing our faith relationship with Jesus and our faith. It’s not all about troubleshooting.”

At Holy Trinity Parish, That Man averages 50-60 men a week, with about 10 tables for discussion.

“We do fall and spring recruitment,” said Brill. “We have notices in the bulletin, set up a table for signups after Mass and ask the pastor to make pulpit announcements. Most of our members come from personal invites . . . so, we do our recruitment [for spring] around Christmas and for fall in August.”

Men participate in a discussion during a That Man Is You gathering. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATHRYN WHITE

Although there are two recruitment periods ahead of the two sessions, men may join at any time. That Man does not meet during the summer.

The Paradisus Dei website lists more than a dozen That Man groups at parishes in the archdiocese.

The meetings have a simple format. A group of volunteers arrives early to prepare breakfast. The doors open at 6 a.m. and the men eat and visit until 6:30 a.m.

At that time, Luck-Smith or Brill take five to 10 minutes to greet them and introduce a video. The video, on various topics, lasts about 30 minutes. After the video, the men engage in small group discussion between 7 and 7:30 a.m. They end promptly at 7:30 a.m. so the men can get to their jobs.

In recent years, That Man had gone through a program expansion by going to a multispeaker and multisubject approach in its videos.

There are no membership dues, although a basket is set aside for freewill donations to support the breakfasts. The videos are provided by Paradisus Dei at no charge to the groups, but fall and spring fundraising appeals are held to support Paradisus Dei. Men join by simply getting on the group’s email list.

For more information or to find a Paradisus Dei group near you, go to the website at: paradisusdei.org.

To view more photos of the group, follow us on Facebook.

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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