In 2012, after a decade of teaching theology at O’Gorman High School, Joe Rutten decided it was time to pursue his idea of forming a men’s group centered on faith and business.
Seven years later, the Catholic Men’s Business Fraternity (CMBF) is an active, multifaceted organization serving men in Sioux Falls and the surrounding communities.
Rutten credits his time teaching at O’Gorman as an inspiration because much of his coursework focused on the integration of faith into areas such as psychology, ethics, and of course, business.
“I began to see that business really needs a moral framework, and without one, it can quickly become corrosive to people and communities,” Rutten said.
Creating a men’s group offered a powerful opportunity to influence both individuals and businesses. Rutten believes men tend to struggle more than women when it comes to connecting spiritually, and so the idea of using business as a bridge came naturally.
“Men often find their meaning and value through work, so I thought we could use that as a way to bring them in the back door to a more purposeful faith encounter,” Rutten said.
What does CMBF do?
Membership is open to Catholic men of any age who consider themselves involved in business, whether as an employee, a boss, or a business owner.
CMBF engages its members in a variety of activities, from a monthly get-together called the Men’s Virtuous Business Leader Formation, to the annual Faith & Business Conference, as well as three Men’s Breakfasts.
Men’s Virtuous Business Leader Formations take place on the third Wednesday of the month at the Cathedral of St. Joseph. Members begin their morning by attending daily mass at 6:45 a.m., followed by an hour of discussion and reflection in the cathedral’s parish hall.
“This fraternity encourages us, once a month, to get together, talk, and be in relationship with one another,” Rutten said. “The content of our formation and curriculum is about faith and business, but when we’re in relationship to each other, we’re able to support, challenge, and encourage each other as husbands and fathers as well.”
Though non-members are welcome at all events, joining CMBF provides Catholic men with a community and a sense of accountability.
“We ask our members to take part in personal growth practices, and we’ve seen more people’s lives transformed by going to daily mass than any other program,” Rutten said.
Personal growth practices for CMBF members include attending at least one daily mass per week in addition to Sunday, engaging in daily prayer, and attending monthly confession.
According to Rutten, CMBF provides a place where business leaders at any level can feel comfortable reflecting upon and sharing both the blessings and the obstacles they face both personally and professionally.
“When you have business leaders in your community that have a place where they can come and share their challenges, it’s magical,” Rutten said. “When one person shares, it emboldens and encourages another to do that same interior work.”
Fostering that openness and vulnerability is a key element of CMBF’s impact.
The higher you get in business and management, the lonelier it gets, says Rutten.
It’s easy for business leaders to reach a point where they feel a need to put on masks and false images of control.
“You’re not in charge. You’re blessed with an opportunity, but this is about responsibility,” Rutten said. “How do business leaders exercise responsibility in their business and their community? That’s what we’re helping them do.”
Taking Sunday into Monday
Outside of the monthly Men’s Virtuous Business Leader Formations, CMBF’s largest strategic initiative is the Faith in Business Conference.
Since 2014, CMBF has hosted an annual conference during the summer featuring national speakers. The upcoming conference will take place on August 13, 2020 with Super Bowl Champion, Matt Birk, as its keynote speaker.
As with all events CMBF puts on, the recurring theme is that of, “Taking Sunday into Monday.”
“We can’t separate who we are from what we do,” Rutten said. “We’re spiritual creatures and there’s more to us than just material existence. In business, we’re not just dealing with simply material people, but people with real dignity.”
Though the conference’s content comes from a Catholic perspective, Rutten says the principles at play are universal, and men and women of all spiritual backgrounds are welcome to attend.
“These principles are dignity of people, common good or corporate purpose, subsidiarity, and solidarity,” Rutten said. “Those four anchor principles are at the heart of Catholic social teaching and that’s what we’re integrating into business practices.”
In addition to the conference, CMBF also operates the Catholic Young Leaders Institute as an outlet for youth to gain professional virtue formation through social gatherings. The institute builds relationships between students and community business leaders and offers opportunities for education on topics such as networking, job interviews, and professional etiquette.
Ultimately, CMBF aims to be an outlet for people, particularly men, who are facing challenges, both personally and professionally. Regardless of stage of life or business, CMBF offers encouragement and guidance to help men become responsible leaders who treat others with dignity.
“This is not a place for perfect people,” Rutten said. “This is a place for people who are trying to become better. Life is hard. Being a person with responsibility is difficult. Being a man who values his faith and spirituality is challenging. We’ve created a fraternity where men can come together and trust one another to be vulnerable, seek to become better, and do better as husbands, fathers, and business leaders.”
Two Things You Can Do This Week:
- Join Catholic Men’s Business Fraternity today. The $100.00 membership fee includes one seat at the annual Faith & Business Conference, one seat at each of the three Men’s Breakfasts, one seat at eight Virtuous Men’s Leadership Formations, and a daily prayer email
- Sign up for CMBF’s Daily Devotions email via the form on their homepage.