They come together at the church long before sunrise.
The approximately 40 men taking part in That Man is You! at St. Anne Catholic Church in Columbus are there to discuss relationships.
The group meets for 90 minutes in Visitation Hall at 6 a.m. on Wednesdays. As the participants munch on biscuits and doughnuts, they view a video and then break up into small groups to discuss what they have seen.
That Man is You! is an interactive, multimedia program that focuses on the development of authentic male leadership. The program, now in churches across the nation, addresses the pressures and temptations that men face in this modern culture, especially those in their roles as husband and father.
It is a ministry of Paradisus Dei (Latin for the Paradise of God), an independent lay ministry founded in 2001 in Houston by Steve Bollman.
Brian Sillitto, senior vice president of economic development for the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce, attends St. Anne and is coordinator of the program that he said looks at the history of man through the Bible and science.
"Steve pitched it to his own parish and they told him no one would come," Sillitto said. "They were wrong. He built a group like ours and then worked to spread it to other parishes. Today, there are 400 parishes in 40 states with more than 15,000 men taking part."
He said the program is designed to "help us guys better understand ourselves, our wives and marriages and our role as authentic leaders in our homes and at work."
According to its literature, the program deals with three important relationships in a man's life: his relationship with God, his relationship with his spouse and his relationship with his children. The content harmonizes current social and medical science with the teachings of the Catholic church.
Robbie Green, a regular attendee who is a financial adviser for Morgan Stanley in Columbus, is married with two daughters.
Green said he began coming to the meeting because he wanted to strengthen his marriage spiritually. He said the program has brought him closer to everyone in his family. He said it has also given him a greater appreciation for them and he is happier.
"I feel I am a better father and husband," Green said.
He said he recently told his wife how special she is to him.
"I realized that with all that is going on in our life," Green said, "I often fail to do that."
Sillitto said while the majority of the men come from local Catholic churches, Protestants have participated.
The program is open and free to anyone. The group meets in two 13-week sessions during the year. The current session will end in early December. The next program will run January through May.
He said people who miss meetings may still get information and keep up with the program through Internet links.
"That is one of the beauties of the program," Sillitto said.
He said the program is unique.
"You would not normally find a group of men coming
together to talk about the issues that we do," he said.
An example question discussed is, "How can you help our culture understand the spiritual reality of the spousal union?"
"That is pretty deep," Green said, smiling.
Green said much of today's society has lost sight that "marriage is a religious sacrament." Anyone interested in the program can contact Sillitto at 706-575-1179.