The Hexham and Newcastle Chapter of “Catholic Man UK” started during Lent in 2019, with its primary home at St Joseph’s in Gateshead. As the group begins to expand, its meetings have also been held in two other parishes in Tyne and Wear, as well as in various members’ homes and gardens and in public parks, and also on Zoom, depending on the Covid-19 restrictions. The group is made up of men in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, of various cultural backgrounds, liturgical preferences and years of faith.

Catholic Man UK (CMUK) was set up in 2017 by Sam Baker, who has featured many times on EWTN and Radio Maria England and who is now the Operations Director at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Its aim is to promote the forming of men’s groups in parishes around the country and to help men of all vocations to recover their lost sense of sonship, brotherhood and, ultimately, fatherhood. More information can be found at www.catholicman.uk.

The group is also affiliated to the “Men of St Joseph”, which was founded around about the same time by Simon Leigh in Stockport and which has featured many times on Shalom Media and at the annual New Dawn Family Conference in Walsingham for its evangelistic work with men, especially those on the margins.

Regular events include “Bible and Breakfasts” on the third Saturday of the month. Members have taken turns to lead the group in reflection on scripture passages of particular relevance to men. Currently they are working through an 8-part Bible study called “The Resolution for Men”, based on the movie “Courageous”, which is recommend as inspirational viewing!

The second regular event is “Adoration and Ales” on the second Thursday of the month. This is 45 minutes in silent Eucharistic adoration, followed by a social time with beers, soft drinks and snacks in the presbytery.

During the “40 Days for Life” international campaign last autumn and this autumn, a small group prayed outside the BPAS referral clinic in Newcastle each Wednesday evening.

Some of the most popular sessions are the intensive “Exodus 90” programme and its gentler “Day 91” programmes. The group have held weekly fraternity meetings since January 2020, and those who have participated (starting with 8 men last year and 13 men this year) have got to know and support each other well. Exodus 90 will start up again on 17 January 2022 – appropriately the memorial of St Anthony of the Desert. More information can be found at www.exodus90.com.

From Easter next year, the group hopes to establish a sub-group to undertake the “Great Man’s Legacy” course (more commonly known as “The Man School”). This is a 6-month, all-encompassing formation course for Catholic men that is being launched in the UK next January by our friend Andrew Laird from North Yorkshire.

To help raise the next generation to be men of faith, service and leadership, in January the group will be launching traditional scouting in a Catholic context, starting with Wolf Cubs aged 8 to 12. They will be affiliated to the UIGSE-FSE, which is the only scouting organisation approved by the Holy See. For more information see www.www.gseuk.org. The group also hopes to offer a physical and spiritual rite of passage in the Summer for boys entering manhood.

Finally, the group hopes to put on a Diocesan day for men with the support of other branches of the Men of St Joseph and to start up some street evangelisation.

For more information on CMUK or to attend a future event, contact Paul Hammond at paul@hammond.me or at 07973 192324.

“For me, this programme was powerful because its focus on fraternity provides accountability, guidance, reflection and support. The disciplines require you to identify your weaknesses and correct unhealthy habits - for the benefit of yourself and others. Identifying weakness and a lack of discipline in a constructive manner is important since it is something we are least inclined to do in life - despite the fact that it is crucial to our growth. To grow through the support of fraternity, prayer, reflection and collective transformation makes Exodus a unique experience. I've only found my faith in the past year, and I am proud that Exodus featured on my journey. I will be doing Exodus again, but even if I didn't, the fraternity it has given me is a gift I am truly grateful for. God bless.”

Exodus 90 Testimony from Darren from Birtley