New program helping define men’s roles in Church and family


By Becky Aubut
Anchor Staff
beckyaubut@anchornews.org

EAST TAUNTON, Mass. — Earlier this year Brian Reed, a parishioner at Holy Family Parish in East Taunton, was researching retreats on his computer and came across a program created by Steve Bollman.

Paradisus Dei (Paradise of God) was founded in 2001 by Bollman to help families discover the superabundance of God within Marriage and family life. Since its inception, Paradisus Dei (www.ParadisusDei.org) has grown rapidly, establishing itself as a large nationwide ministry. It has particular strengths in developing compelling programming and helping individuals discover the presence of God in the midst of communion. 

That Man is You!, a ministry of Paradisus Dei, is an interactive, multimedia men’s program focused on the development of authentic male leadership. Over the course of three years, That Man is You! successively considers men in their relationship to God, to their spouse and to their children. The program content harmonizes current social and medical science with the teachings of the Church and the wisdom of the saints to develop the vision of man fully alive. It is particularly indebted to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and St. John Paul II.

“[That Man is You!] definitely piqued my interest when I first saw it. It almost sounded too good to be true. I looked at it, then looked to see if there was one in this area I could attend and check out,” said Reed, “and there was nothing in the northeast. I think the closest to us was in Baltimore.”

Initially Reed put it aside but admitted he kept thinking about it and “you know how God works, He starts pushing you and pushing you,” he said. The program is designed to start in the fall with preparations for the program to begin in April, but when Reed decided to pursue the program for his parish, it was already June. 

“I figured it was probably too late, but I called over there [through the website] and had a great conversation with the guys,” said Reed. “They’re great people, so supportive and helpful in every way.”

There was no cost to the parish; all the videos and materials were free, said Reed. Though it would require some work and Reed would have to speed up the preparation process, he was assured he would be able to launch That Man is You! in the fall at Holy Family Parish. He reached out to men in his parish to create a core team of 10 “great guys.”

“I have two deacons on board, and seven other guys and myself. They saw the program and knew this was something we had to do,” he said.

Reed said the program wasn’t a hard sell to the men of the parish: “I just showed them what the program offers, and what the program is trying to do. It pretty much spells out today where we are with families and the confusion we all experience in today’s society. It helps men become the men God put on this planet to be — to be disciples and leaders, and to lead our family to Him; that’s not going to happen until we recognize the attack on the family and the Church, and make the necessary changes.”

More than 80 men from all ages and backgrounds registered for the two 13-week sessions. Reed feels that men have lost their roles as leaders of the family, and have lost the concept of the impact each man has on being a husband and a father. This program creates that balance between men and women, and their roles in the family, said Reed.

“God created men and created women, and they both have special gifts and blessings, and I think that men have stepped away from being men and taking on a leadership role,” he said. “I don’t mean bossing people around, I mean by their presence. Kids look to their father. If you lead your family along, they look for your leadership and support.”

During each session, the men watch videos and then are broken up into small groups for discussion. The program brings everybody down to the same level, learning from the bottom up. Each man learns who they are, what his role is in society and in God’s eyes, and bring it all together, said Reed, adding that everyone has something to offer.

The first year of the That Man is You! program, entitled, “Becoming a Man after God’s Own Heart,” considers man in his relationship to God. It is modeled on the life of King David and follows his path from consecration as the King of Israel to serious sin (adultery and plotter of  murder) to repentance and transformation so that he becomes the only man in Scripture to be called “a man after God’s Own heart.”

The fall semester focuses on authentic male leadership. It discovers four leadership roles that have been entrusted to men: moral leadership, military leadership, economic leadership and political leadership. It makes an honest assessment of the state of male leadership today and identifies the consequences of failed leadership. It also clearly identifies the five personal traits that must be developed to fulfill authentic leadership: take personal responsibility for your actions, develop clarity of thought, maintain integrity of action, lay a foundation for the future and be willing to pay the price.

The spring semester considers the struggle occurring in the heart of man between those things which would crush and enslave his heart, and those things which would expand his heart to become all that it was created to be. It takes an honest look at the temptations confronting modern man: sexual misconduct in all its forms, materialism and the desire for success, and the temptation to live a life independent of God. It sets forth those things which can help expand the human heart: the ability of the mind to touch God, the ability to find God in self and other people, and the liberating power of mercy.

That Man is You! honestly addresses the pressures and temptations that men face in our modern culture, especially those relating to their roles as husbands and fathers. Over the course of three years, That Man is You! successively considers the three most important relationships in a man’s life: his relationship with God, his relationship with his spouse and his relationship with his children. 

“Father Kevin Cook has been incredibly supportive of our efforts,” said Reed. “The statistics show that a pastor’s visible support of the program, combined with an active core team, frequently doubles the number of men attending the program. Although the program is designed to be run by the laity, and does not require any work on the part of the pastor, just having his support is a great bonus. We at Holy Family are truly blessed to have him as our pastor and leader in faith.”

Even though That Man is You! is still in its early stages at his parish, Reed knows those who fully participate will reap the rewards of the program.

“It’s getting our heads together, and getting us on a path that we can all travel. There is a place for everyone, no matter what age you are or where you are in your Spiritual life, whether you’re married or not married,” said Reed. “You hope to get the men talking and how it affects our lives no matter where we are, so that everybody is getting something from it. That everyone has a learning experience and they can go out and have something to work with, and make some kind of a change.”

For those wanting more information about That Man is You!, Reed can be reached by email at brian@canapropertiesllc.com or by phone at 508-837-7357.

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