Build a personal relationship through an encounter with Christ and His Church and Become the Spiritual Leader God calls you to be.
Now that we've turned the corner on the halfway point of the year, how is it going? The current environment has been a challenge foe many. There are challenges in the Church, challenges in the workplace, challenges at home. Many people find themselves frustrated to the point of not knowing where to turn. These are exactly the types of situations that make orginizations like the CTM so crucial. It's easy to feel isolated and wonder which direction to turn. Being a part of a community of men that support each other, and care for each other, not only in times of celebration, but also, and especially in times of need, can make the world a better place. Society needs strong men of faith that are courageous enough to stand up for the Truth, and humble enough to know that everything we have is from Christ, and not ourselves.
Late one evening in the spring of 2015 while sitting in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, I felt the Holy Spirit was inspiring me with an idea. For some time, I had been observing the increasing problems and challenges that seemed so overwhelming to many in the Parishes I’d been serving. As a result of many hours of prayer and reflec
Late one evening in the spring of 2015 while sitting in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, I felt the Holy Spirit was inspiring me with an idea. For some time, I had been observing the increasing problems and challenges that seemed so overwhelming to many in the Parishes I’d been serving. As a result of many hours of prayer and reflection in front of the Holy Eucharist, I was blessed with an idea that would become the solution to most of these problems!
What was the solution? Focus on men individually to help us grow a community of men willing to step up and become Spiritual Leaders in their respective environments: i.e., home, parish, work, school, and community.
I could envision parents being ecstatic if one of their daughters was introduced to a man who wholeheartedly embraced this concept of stepping up. Parents would also be enthused if any of their sons associated with someone from this community. I believe wholeheartedly, this is the solution.
I knew I couldn’t do this on my own; I needed help, lots of help! I began sharing my vision with the men in my Parish, Immaculate Conception in Arnold, Missouri. Next, I reached out to relationships outside of our Parish. About a dozen men began meeting every couple of weeks to brainstorm ways to make this idea a reality. Eventually, we accomplished the following:
● Picked an organizational name – Community of Transcendent Men (CTM).
● Identified the mission “Men Helping Men by Following the Teachings of Christ and His Church.”
● Hired an outside consulting firm to help us assemble a leadership team and build an organizational structure
● Filed for nonprofit 501c3
We are now ready to introduce the CTM Mindset, beginning with Catholic communities across the Archdiocese of St. Louis and then the entire country!
MY PERSONAL STORY
(Personally answering God’s call):
I went into the seminary kicking and screaming. I remember Fr. John Bolderson, an Associate Pastor in the Parish (Ste. Genevieve, Missouri) I attended prior to going away to college, asking me to pray about becoming a priest. I responded, “OK, it’s not going to happen, but I’ll pray.” T
MY PERSONAL STORY
(Personally answering God’s call):
I went into the seminary kicking and screaming. I remember Fr. John Bolderson, an Associate Pastor in the Parish (Ste. Genevieve, Missouri) I attended prior to going away to college, asking me to pray about becoming a priest. I responded, “OK, it’s not going to happen, but I’ll pray.” To my great surprise, a few years later, God Called me to the Priesthood.
Prior to answering God’s call, I looked forward to the day I would become a husband, a father, and eventually a grandfather. I loved the idea of being married to a lady whom I could love and dote over so that she might “be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27). I was ready to follow God’s instructions to be a husband who honored his wife and did all things in Christ. But then God called me to the priesthood.
When I responded to God’s Calling, I made a huge sacrifice, forgoing marriage. Since then, I realize how hypercritical I am of married men who don’t follow God’s instructions for marriage. Unhappy and failed marriages are creating many problems for families! I see beautiful women bringing their children to Mass by themselves. I want to help their husbands understand how important it is to lead their families to Church. I also want to help women understand that they should expect their husbands to step up and become the Spiritual Leader for their family.
When first assigned to a Parish over a quarter of a century ago, I quickly realized that the family I had longed for was the Parish itself. I was in a good place! I felt a part of their families through invitations to family dinners, graduations, First Communion celebrations, weddings, baptisms, and more. I became part of a big family and I enjoyed it immensely.
Unfortunately, the culture started to change, with too many people living radically isolated lives. The creation of smartphones and other electronic technologies exponentially increased this problem. Invitations to those family events decreased dramatically. Certainly, the priest scandal has caused much damage to relationships between priests and their parishes, but far greater damage has come from radical isolation brought on by various technologies. One personal example of this can be found every time I go to the gym and workout. In the 80’s and 90’s, I knew most of the gym members by name. Today, when walking into the gym, I cannot tell you one person’s name because everyone is plugged into their phones. Moreover, this phenomenon has caused enormous damage within family groups, resulting in very little communication between family members.
This family experience, or lack of it, has caused many young people to start families very late in life. In 2016, we priests received a letter from the Archdiocese of St. Louis indicating that there were half as many weddings and baptisms in 2016 as there had been in 1996. I wondered, “What is going on?” I also had been noticing how Mass attendance had been on a steady decline.
By then, I was battling feelings of depression and was disheartened by the huge problems growing in our culture. In discussions with old friends, and men and women in my Parish, I began to see more clearly what needed to be done. We desperately needed a Solution!
In terms of psychological and spiritual development, males are the most fragile of the two genders. It takes a lot of male bonding in order to raise a boy into a mature, Christian man and even more bonding to raise a man into a better Christian man. In today's isolated culture, males have very few opportunities to form meani
In terms of psychological and spiritual development, males are the most fragile of the two genders. It takes a lot of male bonding in order to raise a boy into a mature, Christian man and even more bonding to raise a man into a better Christian man. In today's isolated culture, males have very few opportunities to form meaningful relationships with other men. Many boys grow up in male deprived environments with 42% of children born in our world without fathers in the home. The few male relationships they do have are founded in fantasy football, politics and other issues. These relationships do little to prepare men to be loving and supporting husbands for their wives and spiritual leaders for their families and communities. Moreover, young people have much more information at their disposal through technology, but information is not wisdom. Technology has become a surrogate replacement for wisdom that used to come from older adults. Information is what we know but wisdom is how we grow as mature adults.
Simply put, men must come up with ways to break the pattern of isolation that exists among families and not be afraid to come together to talk about the only thing that’s important: Jesus and His Teachings as they present themselves through His Church. CTM is here to help men come together and discuss spiritual and formational issues that will help them grow as spiritual leaders for their families and communities. We believe that the solution is not a macro level or systemic approach. CTM is devoted to asking individual men to understand that isolation doesn’t make them a better man. According to proverbs 27:17, men need to escape their isolation by becoming a CTM member, where they will join other men of all ages to help strengthen one another to become better husbands, fathers, and community leaders. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Every man needs to understand the immeasurable benefit of being a part of a community of men practicing their Catholic faith. CTM is helping men embrace the painful process of becoming true men.
One priest is not going to get the job done. It’s going to take a growing community of men working together while following the teachings of Christ and His Church. I take great comfort in knowing that for the last four years a group of like-minded Catholic men have been trudging forward to form a foundation for success in building this unique organization that possesses such a narrow focus (Men forming a community of men that will help them step up and become THE Spiritual Leaders in their environments!)
Bureaucratic hierarchies (like Parishes) move slowly and entrenched interests shy away from risk. At the other extreme, a lone genius (which I am not) might create a classic work of art or literature, but he could never create an entire industry. Rather, the CTM is like a small startup. We now possess a sense of urgency that it’s time to spread this mindset into every Catholic organization possible as we focus on the next three years! Now we are ready to grow!