How to Start a Catholic Men's Prayer Group: The Essential Guide


I keep getting asked the same question, again and again. How should we start a men's prayer group in our parish?

I helped start the Men of the Immaculata Catholic Men's Conference a few years back, and it quickly exploded. 1,100+ men are now attending our annual conference, and it sells out fast. Men are clearly hungry for this.

Now, we keep getting the same question. Several men from our parish attended your conference, loved it, and now want to start a men's prayer group in our parish.

They want to keep the fire burning. But how?

I have been through this myself several times. I have had successes in starting men's groups and, let's say, non-successes. Here is a guide of all the good advice and resources that I have picked up along the way.

By the way, these tips also work for women's groups!


Scroll down for all the following guides and resources for starting a Catholic men's group or prayer group:

  • How to start a Catholic prayer group all by yourself
  • 8 Steps to Starting a Catholic Men's Group
  • Top Church Resources - Mass, Adoration, Rosary - to kick start your Catholic men's group
  • Classic men's group resources from the Saints
  • Top FREE Catholic Men's Group Resources 
  • Top PAID Catholic Men's Group Resources
  • How to recruit men to your group 
  • How to host a Catholic Men's Conference 

What if it's just you? How to start a Catholic Men's group alone?

Your soul has been craving a small group. You have been pestering your friends and relatives to start praying together or serving the Church together, but you're stuck. Are you in this position?

Here's what you do. Pray.

Gee, thanks, right? I mean it, though.

Men like to do something, right? Here is a whole plan of action:

  • Pray with commitment. Pray Novenas
  • Pick a giant to help you, like St. Joseph. Have tried again and again, and feel like it's impossible. Pick a St. Jude Novena. 
  • Are you reading this 10+ days before Pentecost? Pray the original, the O.G., Novena, the Novena to the Holy Spirit. The Apostles prayed with the Blessed Mother for nine (that's what novena means, by the way) days following the Ascension of Christ. What happened on the 9th day? The Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost. Boom. 
  • Ask your parish priest to join you in your Novena.
  • Is he too busy? Ask your prayer warriors. 
  • Don't know any prayer warriors? Look for them at Daily Mass. They might be the older ladies wearing veils. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. You'll find them. 
  • That didn't work? Do it again until it does. Rinse and repeat. 
Here's a link to The Catholic ManBook for a whole chapter of powerful novenas.


You have a small group of guys, now what? 

Forming a group doesn’t have to be all that complicated. The important part is starting.

Don't let yourself get overwhelmed or intimidated with thoughts like these:
  • "How do I even start forming a Bible Study?" 
  • "Do I need to be a theologian?" "Do I need the help of a theologian?"
  • "I don’t know my faith well enough to start a group?" or 
  • "I'm a new convert to the Church and I want to grow in my faith but I don’t know how to start a group.”  
You might have certain preconceptions and misconceptions. You must meet at the church or in a meeting room. You must follow a study plan.

These things aren't required, certainly not in the beginning. In fact, it's not very comfortable for most men, either.

8 Steps to Starting a Catholic Men's Group

Here are some simple steps to get you off the ground:

  1. Begin and end with prayer. Begin each gathering with a prayer, giving thanks, asking for the intercession of your patron saints, and praying for one another. It's a great idea to identify a patron saint for your group, see below. The "Good of the Order" is an essential element of every Knights of Columbus meeting. This is a great idea. It's just a list of everybody in the group's orbit that needs prayers.   
  2. Pick a location. Wherever you all will feel comfortable. This could be at church, itself, a pub or microbrewery (see G. K. Chesterton's advice below), a coffee shop or restaurant, or someone’s home. Public places are great, because you become a visible sign of God's grace - very sacramental! Somewhere with seating and room to just hang out and talk. Noisy places probably won't work long-term, so that might eliminate a pub. In the South, rocking chairs and porches are great. 
  3. Meet regularly. You should probably meet at least monthly. Weekly can work, too. See what works for your group, but keep the light on! There may be seasonal down periods, but be consistent.
  4. Get a Chaplain or Spiritual Director. A priest is a great addition to a men's group. Even if they can't come to every meeting, you need a sounding board to help keep you on track. While you're at it, a spiritual director for yourself is a very good idea.
  5. Identify a Patron Saint. It's a great idea to identify a patron saint for your group, like St. Joseph or St. Pope John Paul the Great. Don't think they're not already reaching out to you! 
  6. Use a Resource. Once you get going, stay productive. Men need a purpose. I will provide many examples and recommendations below. But a spiritual book, consecration, or program of study in progress at all times. If it's a book, do a chapter a month. Discuss, but set no time limit on the discussion. Let the conversation flow freely.
  7. Fellowship. Don't feel the need to police non-religious topics. That's exhausting. You don't need to limit yourselves to spiritual discussion. Relax and have a good time. The idea is that you form friendships that extend beyond Mass.  
  8. Spirits! A little bit of brew is good for the conversation. As the Angelic Doctor (may or may not have) instructed us ...

What Resources to Use?

There are a ton of great prayer group resources out there. I'll list out some of the best soon, too.

There are so many options, though, that it can be utterly bewildering.

So how do you find the right option for your Catholic prayer group? How do you sift through all the resources? Confusing ...


Do the Simple Thing First! Discern your Prayer Group

You don't have to go buy an expensive set of DVDs, brochures, leader materials, and handbooks. You don't have to start writing a bunch of discussion questions. Not yet! Let your group breathe a little bit. Start simple.

This may be the most powerful program for a Catholic men's group: Meet for Daily Mass, Pray the Rosary together, and then go to breakfast together.

So simple! It's just the regular (I will not say ordinary) functions of the Church. It's like the Church was designed by God to bring us closer to Him ... or something.

Do the simple thing first! Get to know each other. Let the Holy Spirit speak through your group. Be flexible. Let the needs and desires of your group inform your plans.

You've got an interested group, now what? Ways to Start a Catholic Men's Prayer Group for FREE: No Product Investment Needed

You have a small group of dedicated guys. Now what?

Don't miss the vast riches already at your fingertips. Why not plunder some of the Church's treasures? THAT'S why they are there.

The Church is the Bride of Christ. She will be perfectly suited to help you, the Body of Christ, in all your needs.


Use the Church's Existing Wealth of Resources:

Here are some simple activities and things to do to start your Catholic men's prayer group:

  • Starting Formula: Meet for Daily Mass, Pray the Rosary together, and then go to breakfast together. If you're eating at McDonald's or Dairy Queen or somewhere public, make sure to say the blessing together, too. What a great sign to others! You may recruit this way, too. 
  • Pray the Liturgy of the Hours together. This is what monks pray together. It's basically just reciting the Psalms. It's also called the Divine Office, and it's what you use a Breviary for. If it's morning, pray "Matins" together. If it's evening, pray "Vespers" together. 
  • There's a great free phone app to help you if you're uncomfortable leading the Rosary, the Divine Office and the Liturgy of the Hours. It's called Laudate. It has a simplified Liturgy of the Hours, Rosary, Daily and Sunday readings, Saints of the Day, and so much more. All free!
  • Read and discuss the Sunday Mass Readings together. I'll bring this up again later, but Dr. Brant Pitre's Sunday Mass Readings Explained is awesome. 
  • Meet for an Adoration Hour, then breakfast or dinner. Many parishes have a Perpetual Adoration Chapel to adore the Blessed Sacrament. Some don't. Some parishes just have adoration for a few hours per week. If your parish doesn't have anything like this, ask about it. 

G. K. Chesterton's Advice on Catholic Prayer Groups

Don't want to miss family dinner? Combine the above with a visit to the pub!

Here's a great quote from G. K. Chesterton on forming a Catholic men's group:

In Catholicism, the pint, the pipe and the Cross can all fit together.

"Distill" that advice down to the following ingredients for a men's group. The Cross can be any of the ideas above, e.g. meeting for Mass, Rosary, Adoration. 

The Pint: Meet at a pub instead of eating together. Your presence may be a great influence at a bar. You may end up recruiting a man whose life might otherwise be destroyed by alcoholism. 

The Pipe (or The Porch): I'm from the South. We smoke pipes on the porch in rocking chairs. That's a great spot for a men's group to meet. 


The Inklings & The Catholic Man Show

G. K. Chesterton's quote may remind you of another men's group. J.R.R. Tolkien, Owen Barfield, Roger Lancelyn Green, Hugo Dyson, Robert Harvard and C.S. Lewis, to name a few, met at The Eagle & Child pub in Oxford. They were known as the Inklings. 

The Inklings inspired the model for the men's group behind The Catholic Man Show. You can read more about that here


Ever Ancient, Ever New: Catholic Prayer Groups Formulas from the Saints

You are not the first Catholic to want to start a prayer group, men's groups, or Bible study. No offense!

The Holy Spirit often moves people to start prayer communities. Many Saints have come before you and already blazed a path. And, they created resources for us to use.

There are plenty of FREE resources available for Catholic groups to use authored by Saints! 

  • St. Louis de Montfort's Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary is a 33-day series of readings, prayers, and devotions. The 33-day Marian Consecration is easily transformable into a 33-week schedule for a Catholic prayer group. Do a Marian Consecration as a group! There are several solid Marian consecrations available: The Catholic Manbook includes a day-by-day or week-by-week St. Louis de Montfort Marian Consecration. There's also 33 Days to Morning Glory by Father Gaitley, which is not a St. Louis de Montfort consecration, but brings together writings from Saints Pope John Paul, (Mother) Teresa, and Maximilian Kolbe. 
  • St. Joseph Consecration - Father Donald Calloway, MIC has recently created an amazing new consecration to St. Joseph. Check it out!
  • St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises: The original resource for Catholic manhood! There are several 40-week programs available to go through St. Ignatius time-honored spiritual program. I've gone through the Spiritual Exercises several times, even as a 30-day silent retreat, but always with a spiritual director. You will likely need a certified Ignatian spiritual director to guide you through a program like this. Here's a referral service for finding a local certified spiritual director.
  • Venerable Fulton Sheen: Sheen's Life is Worth Living Series is still an amazing resource. This may be a little vintage, but you can't beat Sheen! Archbishop Fulton Sheen's 100-episode television series is available free on YouTube


List of FREE Resources for Catholic Men's Groups

Here's a list of great FREE resources for Catholic Men's Prayer Groups, in addition to the classics above. These might be good if your group is just starting out:

  • Bible Study: Dr. Scott Hahn has several free resources available at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, such as his amazing Gospel of John Bible Study. There are also a ton of great paid resources available, as well. 
  • Catholic Manhood Program: Into the Breach by Bishop Thomas Olmstead. Here's a great Catholic men's group program created from "Into the Breach" which is FREE! Here's a trailer for Olmstead's work.
  • Introduction to Catholicism Series: Father David Ricardo, one of America's finest priests, has provided free on YouTube the RCIA program that he preached for his parish. Production quality is simple, but the content is top notch! Here's Part One and Part Two for a total of 60 free videos! 
  • Introduction to Catholicism Series: Venerable Fulton Sheen's Life is Worth Living Series. This may be a little vintage, but you can't beat Sheen! Archbishop Fulton Sheen's 100-episode television series is available free on YouTube
  • Turnkey Catholic Men's Group: The Knights of Columbus. This is the epitome of Catholic men's groups. The granddaddy of them all! Their four principles are charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism. The KCs are heavily involved in the Pro-Life movement and also donate millions and millions of dollars annually to charitable programs, including $12 million to Christian refugees in the Middle East since 2014.
  • Turnkey Catholic Men's Group: The Catholic Watchmen. These guys provide a month-by-month meeting schedule and blueprint for starting a Catholic men's group. 

List of PAID Resources for Catholic Men's Groups

Here's a list of great paid resources for Catholic Men's Prayer Groups. You may need to host a fundraiser for these, pay dues, or your church parish might be willing to cover the costs. These may be better, though, once you get going a bit:

  • Bible Study for Sunday Mass Readings: Dr. Brant Pitre's Understanding the Mass Readings. This is a 52-week series, which takes you through the Sunday Mass readings week-by-week. Amazing resource from an amazing teacher! Can't say enough great things about this resource. Not only will Dr. Pitre awaken the Scriptures for you like never before, this will give fathers a great way of engaging their families before and after Mass. 
  • Bible Study for Specific Books of the Bible: Dr. Scott Hahn has several bible studies available online at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. Dr. Hahn is your choice if you want to dig into a particular book of Scripture. 
  • Bible Study for an Introduction to the Bible: The Great Adventure Bible Study by Jeff Cavins. This is a great series because it provides you with a framework to understand and apply the WHOLE Bible. 
  • Resource Library: Formed. Want something with it all? Books, videos, and Bible Studies? Check out Formed's massive library. It's on the expensive side, but your parish or even entire Diocese may already have a subscription you can use. 
  • Men's Prayer Challenge (Intense): Exodus 90 is a spiritual exercise for the renewal of the Church. It's a challenging 90-day period of prayer and asceticism, supported by a fraternity of like-minded men. The first week is free, then $9.99/month for three months.
  • Introduction to Catholicism Series: Bishop Barron's Catholicism DVD-series. This is a visually stunning video and workbook series. Overwhelmed by the sheer massiveness of the Faith? This is great if you want or need to get to know Catholicism all over again, because it covers all aspects of Catholicism: history, theology, devotions, and tradition. 
  • Introduction to Catholicism Series: Dr. Edward Sri, like Bishop Barron above, has a great series called Symbolon. While Barron isn't too confrontational, Sri will give you a better defense of the Faith and introduction to apologetics. 
  • Turnkey Catholic Men's Group: 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. Here's a great introduction trailer by Archbishop Charles Chaput.
  • Turnkey Catholic Men's Group: The King's Men. Under Christ the King’s universal call to serve, we as men, pledge to unite and build up other men in the mold of leader, protector, and provider through education, formation, healing, and action. 
  • Bible Study on the Virgin Mary: I list this one last, because I created this video course on the Blessed Mother. It follows my book on defending and discovering the Virgin Mary using Scripture: What You Need to Know About Mary But Were Never Taught.

You've got a small prayer group, but you want it bigger? How to Recruit Catholics to your Prayer Group:

Here are some ways to kick start or expand your Catholic men's prayer group:

  • Catholic Men's Prayer Breakfast - Pick a Saturday morning to host a men's prayer breakfast for your parish. If you have the funds, hire a speaker. If not, find a local man or priest that can speak powerfully to your group about Catholic manhood.
  • Annual Catholic Men's Conference - Here's are some examples of men's groups already doing this: Men of the Immaculata Catholic Men's Conference (the one I help host, see below) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Central Texas Men's Conference in Round Rock, Texas; Annual Catholic Men’s Fellowship Conference in Buffalo, New York; Rise Up Men's Conference in Orlando, Florida; and E6 Men's Conference in Indiana. Reach out to these guys with your questions. We're all one big Catholic fraternity! Some of the keys to a successful men's conference are having parish captains, a local Catholic radio station, and the support of the local Bishop. 


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