A Program to Boost the Spirits of Catholic Men
By Margarita Mendoza, Editor El Observador
November 23, 2023
ST. CHARLES—There is a life-changing program at work at St. Patrick Parish that assists Catholic men to improve their lives and find camaraderie, reflection, and especially, substantial growth for themselves, 
 
“That Man Is You” is suitable for men of all ages and levels of faith.
 
Is there a
“That Man Is You”
near you?
 
The following parishes in the Rockford Diocese offer this program: 
-- Batavia—Holy Cross
-- Durand/Irish Grove—
     St. Mary/St.Patrick
-- Freeport—St. Thomas Aquinas
-- Geneva—St. Peter
-- Loves Park—St. Bridget
-- Rockford—Holy Family, St. Rita
-- St. Charles—St. John Neumann,       St. Patrick 
-- Sugar Grove—St. Katharine              Drexel
 
“It enhanced my life!” says St. Patrick parishioner Frank Positano. “TMIY reveals insight, direction, and wisdom to obtain a happy life that only a relationship with God can bring … The only regret I have is that this program was not available sooner.” 
 
Positano has participated for eight years and says he has learned “that all things can be accomplished through God.” 
 
“The world is a different place for men through the eyes of Joseph, Jesus’ dad, the man we as men should emulate as we seek to lead our earthly lives,” he adds.
 
With the program’s interactive exercises, information from scientific research, teachings of the Catholic faith, and the wisdom of the saints, men reflect on the pressures and temptations they face and that are characteristic of modern culture.
 
Each module of the TMIY program lasts 26 weeks. During that time, participants are taught how to improve their lives at home and within society. Men learn how to be better friends, parents, and “better husbands, so says my wife,” Positano says, adding that they also learn to be humble, helpful and honorable.
 
“As we meet in our table groups once a week, a brotherhood is developed and appreciated. The presentations of interesting, instructive videos encourage sharing and caring for families, church and our communities,” he says. Positano says that he usually invites men he knows to join TMIY, and that together “we better understand how to follow God.”
 
A few months ago, Enrique Mendoza accepted that invitation, and since then, he has attended every early morning Saturday gathering.
 
“I had the expectation of meeting a group of 10 to 20 men to talk about biblical topics. I was wrong!” Mendoza says. “I met hundreds of participants and felt the camaraderie from the moment I sat at the table assigned to me. There were 11 men (at my table) … all very different and willing to learn, committed to the process to become better and to effectively fulfill the mission entrusted by God.”
 
“We have the tradition of meeting to pray the rosary 20 minutes before starting the session,” he says, noting that at 5:40 a.m., the men begin praying. Then they have breakfast and get ready to watch a video. The half-hour video is followed by at least 30 minutes of small group reflection on the topic. When they finish, Mendoza says, they feel spiritually recharged and ready to begin their Saturday with motivation and joy.
 
A National Program
 
TMIY is managed and produced by Paradisus Dei, a Latin name that means Paradise of God. The organization was founded in Texas in 2001 by Steve Bollman to help “families discover the superabundance of God within marriage and family life,” the TMIY website says. The organization now offers programs to serve couples, men, women, and youth.
 
The content of TMIY was developed by Bollman and is based on the Scriptures, tradition, and the teachings of the Church. The material has been expanded over the years — inspired by extensive readings, personal ideas and discussions with numerous theologians and people within the Church.
 
During Bollman’s illness-based absence, Paradisus Dei vice president, Mark Hartfiel, continues the program’s development. 
 
“The family is the center of society and is under attack,” Hartfiel says, adding that the role of men in the family and in society is vital. He recalls the beginning of TMIY when 124 men showed up at the first meeting organized by Bollman, despite it being on a Wednesday morning. From there it has grown to reach parishes nationally as well as in some other countries, and in military bases and detention centers. Today, almost 900 parishes participate, with some 20,000 men who gather each weekend, Hartfiel says.
 
According to Paradisus Dei records, more than 1,500 men in the Diocese of Rockford are benefiting from “That Man is You.”
 
Now Expanding Beyond English
 
Deacon Carlos Ramírez of the Hispanic apostolate in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, felt the call to volunteer to translate “That Man is You” into Spanish.
 
When Ramírez first heard about TMIY, he discovered that his wife already knew about it through a couple she served at her law firm. 
 
“The man used to be rude and treated his wife poorly. They returned a year later and he was changed. Now he is very kind — after he participated in TMIY,” Ramírez’ wife said. Ironically, he adds, wives are motivating each other to send their husbands to the program.  
 
So far, Ramírez has translated almost two years out of the 10 available in the program. He describes a vision he had during a spiritual retreat: “Many people came out of the shadows and passed through the door,” he says, noting that his vision happened before he learned about TMIY. Over time, he says, “I understood that it was TMIY; many people are going to pass through that door and follow God.”
 
No matter the language, there is a profound transformation “in marriage and family life, men’s issues including pornography and balancing work demands, and a greater participation in parish life,” TMIY claims. In that sense, “That Man Is You” accompanies men and their families on the path to holiness.
 
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