What does it mean to be a man? How can Christian men support each other? How can Catholic men witness to authentic masculinity in today’s society?
Into the Breach
Leaders of several men’s ministries addressed these and other questions in “A Call to Battle — a short film on ‘Society’s crisis in masculinity,’” a 10-minute video that at press time has received more than 112,000 views on You Tube. The video is a supplement to “Into the Breach,” Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s apostolic exhortation to Catholic men.
“I think our society today is one that is built around individualism and isolation, which leaves the heart empty,” said Bishop Olmsted in the video. “And so we need bands of brothers. We need really good friends.”
Fr. Paul Sullivan, diocesan director of Vocations, said there was a need to have a video to accompany the bishop’s document because this is one of the primary ways people communicate today.
“I think the hope was to convey some of the themes of Bishop’s prophetic document,” said Fr. Sullivan, whom Bishop Olmsted has also designated as chaplain for men.
Mike Phelan, diocesan director of Marriage and Respect Life, said that releasing “A Call to Battle” is the next step in continuing the men’s movement that started with the publication of “Into the Breach” in September of last year.
“The ‘A Call to Battle’ video is a little more in-depth on what the real crisis in masculinity consists of: disconnection; lack of relationships; loneliness; not fulfilling roles; struggles with pornography; and all kinds of other time-wasting, soul-wasting activities and so the video hits this head-on … and it’s a next step in energizing this movement that our bishop is calling for,” said Phelan.
John-Andrew O’Rourke, who was hired by the diocese to produce the film, said he was “blown away” by “Into the Breach.”
“I’m very passionate about the role of men in society,” O’Rourke said. “To have the opportunity to call men to action was really exciting to me.”
O’Rourke, a practicing Catholic who founded and owns Blackstone Films, said he remembered as his sister read the document out loud while he was driving, he’d tell her to highlight sections so he could reference them when asking questions of the men featured in the video.
“A Call to Battle” features not only Bishop Olmsted and several priests, but also quite a few laymen. To O’Rourke, having these lay voices was important.
“The same ideas, values, and ‘battle plan,’ it’s not just coming from a bishop who has it ‘all together,’” he said. “It’s coming from everywhere in the Church. … There are people around you who you can relate to, so you can realize these standards are achievable.”
Since its release, the video has been shared across the globe.
“I was at home in New York when they released it, and my sister got it from someone else and she was like ‘Wow, that’s you in there,’” said Fr. Sullivan, who added he’d also received a message from somebody working for the Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia who said it had an impact there.
Phelan said that he’s received a lot of feedback concerning the video, the document and the overall men’s movement, including unofficial translations of “Into the Breach” in French, German and Portuguese.
“It’s been fun to watch how it’s going national and international, and how social media really has changed our ability to get news out,” he said.