Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Theology (ThD)

First Advisor

Fr. Francis Berna, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Thomas Legere, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

John Kruse, Ph.D.


The Men’s Movement began in the 1970’s and led men to examine their health and wellness more closely. What they discovered was that, in general, men were struggling from addictive behavior, emotional trauma, and strained relationships. These discoveries influenced authors to focus on men’s experiences with the hope of articulating a unique male spirituality. Initially, a number of these authors were clergy and psychologists that were trained in psychology. This training exposed many of them to the psychological theories of Carl Jung, who, among his many writings, focused on the midlife experience. This study will focus on the blessings and challenges Catholic men experience during midlife. Since Jung focused specifically on the complex nature of midlife, his writings will provide the basis for examining the transitions that occur during this critical time period. It will explain how Jung’s theories of the psyche, specifically archetypes and individuation, are significant for understanding the spirituality of Catholic men during midlife. This dissertation will utilize the lived experiences of St. Ignatius of Loyola as a case study for understanding the experiences of men during midlife. It will provide a summary of the lasting images that are part of the portrait of the legacy of Ignatius. This will be followed by an overview of the various stages in his life that illustrated the transformation he underwent after experiencing a mid-life crisis. It will highlight how the characteristics of desire, discernment, and detachment are instrumental for Ignatian Spirituality and Catholic men. St. Ignatius was chosen as a case study because his life clearly illustrates the spiritual transformation that occurs following a mid-life crisis. Another reason is that he is a recognizable saint, thus an exemplar of Christian holiness. Furthermore, the holiness he exemplified was manifested in a robust and viral iv fashion. Although St. Ignatius lived five centuries ago, and was conditioned by the culture in which he lived, his life is still relevant for the spiritual welfare of Catholic men today. This dissertation will demonstrate how midlife offers Catholic men unseen opportunities for spiritual transformation. It will confirm that the spiritual needs of the second half of life are radically different from those of the first. It will question whether the current trend to “Man Up” has benefits for men during midlife. In effect, this dissertation proposes that Catholic men, and those that minister to them, need to adopt a more holistic spirituality to better navigate through the mid-life journey. The motto “Holiness is Wholeness,” coined by Josef Goldbrunner decades ago, is more important for the wellness of men than ever.