One priest. Five seminarians. A worldwide mission to free Catholic men.
In 2013, Fr. Brian Doerr, a Vice-Rector of Human Formation, began meeting with a group of seminarians as part of their faith formation at Mount St. Mary’s Theological Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD. As the men talked, they realized that as holy as their desires were, they were still men—human and unfree from the base inclinations of the modern world. They realized:
If men who are studying for the priesthood are struggling with temptation, addiction, and passivity, then surely other men in the Church—husbands, fathers, and single men—are too?
With a passion for men’s formation, the group decided to take pen names and share their discussions in the form of digital articles in order to share wisdom and the formation mindset of seminary with other men. The content was well received, and as readership grew, more men became willing to write and share their own wisdom.
At the same time, Fr. Doerr began his own collection of writings in response to the need for deeper, more modern formation for young priests, creating what is now known as Exodus 90. He began an experiment, gathering five seminarians he knew were struggling. Over the next 90 days, they followed Fr. Doerr’s writings alongside the book of Exodus and Moses’ journey with the Israelites out of Egypt, while practicing penance and accountability through fraternity. In just 90 days (a length of time proven to not only break bad habits, but rewire neurological pathways toward healthier lifestyles), the men achieved freedom by reappropriating their former dependencies toward Christ. The program was then piloted 10 more times over the next three years and finally launched to bishops, priests, and laymen across America—and eventually the rest of the world.
Citing the success of the blog and Exodus 90 program as proof of the need for more relevant men’s formation, Those Catholic Men was formed as a non-profit organization in Fort Wayne, IN with the blessing and support of Bishop Kevin Rhoades. The mission of Those Catholic Men is to free Catholic men, which is accomplished through daily distribution of online content and the expansion of the Exodus 90 program. The organization is led by three full-time staff members including James Baxter, Executive Director, who was one of the founders. The Board of Directors is composed of seven faithful, committed lay men from diverse professional backgrounds. Those Catholic Men hosts more than 20 authors who write about broad topics related to Catholicism and masculinity. In addition, more than 7,000 men have registered in Exodus 90 fraternities and are now experiencing their freedom as sons of God.