RISE program aims to ignite men’s faith and change lives

Photo: MenRiseUp.org

This fall, through a program called RISE, men in Catholic parishes across the globe can still begin a 30-day challenge designed to reignite their faith and bring them into community with each other.

Chris Stefanick. Photo: MenRiseUp.org

The program, created by Catholic authors and speakers Chris Stefanick, host of EWTN’s Real Life Catholic and Bill Donaghy, a curriculum specialist at the Theology of the Body Institute, will deliver daily web-based challenges to the men, encouraging them to “step up in their own lives to be the men that God is calling them to be, no matter their stage in life,” according to RISE’s website.

The program encourages men to be examples of authentic masculinity and leadership in a Church struggling to demonstrate both right now, Stefanick said.

“This is needed in the Church now more than ever,” said Stefanick, founder of Real Life Catholic, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reengaging a generation. “We have a crisis around masculinity. A friend of mine was trying to sell a friend of his on the RISE program, and he said it really helps men recover their masculinity and then added the qualifier, ‘but not in the negative way.’ It struck me that he had to qualify. We tend to almost insert the word ‘toxic’ before ‘masculinity’ in our culture today.

“It’s almost a given that masculinity is a negative thing. We’re telling men that we don’t really need them or want them, and men are really struggling to remember who they are and what makes them beautiful, good, and true. It’s time to come back to the basics and reclaim our identity in Christ.”

Bill Donaghy. Photo: MenRiseUp.org

This culture war against masculinity is won by winning the war in our hearts, Stefanick said.

“It’s a program about becoming holier and happier,” he said, “of making the Gospel something we follow and live out every day so we can become the kind of men where we can say, ‘I want to be that guy.’”

At the heart of this Gospel-centered masculinity is the idea that “every man is a father, a husband, a brother, and a son, whether or not they are married or have kids,” he said. “Those are our identities because that’s how we love and how we are called to interact with the world, with God, with other people, and with our families.”

The RISE program is structured around those four fundamental identities and how men live them out, and each are covered for a week during the 30-day program. Over the past year, thousands of men from around the world have taken the RISEChallenge. This fall, dioceses and parishes will be using RISE as a tool to cast a wide net and reach the many men who aren’t involved in parish life.

“We often have a vague sense that we need to focus more on our kids or be more present mentally when we come into our homes,” Stefanick said. “We have a general sense that if we had deeper friendships our lives would be more rewarding. I think there’s a crisis of loneliness among men. I think we’re the loneliest era of men ever. [The program] goes through how to form meaningful friendships with other guys and live out these other identities.”

For those men who may think they are too busy for the program, Stefanick said he knows that feeling well. In fact, he said he created the program with his own schedule in mind.

“It doesn’t take much time,” he said. “It’s really something that’s made for someone who’s too busy. But it will make all of life more meaningful if they take the time.”

Additionally, the creators are offering the 30-day program free of charge to every priest, religious, and seminarian in the nation, and members of the clergy will find in the daily challenges material created specifically for them.

“I think clergy are loving it just as much as any other guy going through it,” Stefanick said. “The response has been that they want to promote it in their parishes. I think now is a really important time to show love to our clergy who are good men, because they are all getting painted with the wrong brush.”

The goal of RISE is to have 100,000 men all over the world step-up to the challenge this fall. 

Parishes may review RISE at no cost by visiting MenRiseUp.org/p/fall2018. RISE is also available in Spanish.

The program is growing, he said, and many thousands of men have participated in just its first year. Stefanick, who speaks to more than 50,000 people a year and is the author of many books and resources, said he has been thanked for other things he has done in his life and ministry but there is something “qualitatively different about this.”

“I receive thank-yous with such gravitas to them that I know lives have been changed,” he said. “That’s what this is all about at the end of the day. It’s about changing lives.”

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