The story of The King’s Men begins during the summer of 2004 with three guys: Tony Luna, Damian Wargo and Mark Houck. Damian was the common link for the three who came together as a group at a Theology on Tap in Philadelphia featuring international speaker and author Christopher West who was speaking on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. As men in their early thirties, the message of the Theology of the Body resonated in the hearts of Tony, Damian and Mark.
While in line seeking an autograph and brief chat with the best selling Catholic author Christopher West, Tony and Mark struck up a conversation. Mark shared that he was a chastity educator for a non-profit organization called Generation Life. Tony spoke of his long-time experience and leadership with young adult ministry in the Philadelphia area. After speaking for a short while, both Tony and Mark realized that they had a mutual friend in Damian Wargo. At this point, Tony and Mark’s conversation steered in the direction of discussing men’s accountability. Thus the concept for The REAL MEN ministry began.
Shortly after the Theology on Tap meeting, Tony, Damian and Mark began to meet regularly as men to discuss Church teaching on the issue of sexual integrity and offer one another weekly accountability with regard to living out the virtue of chastity. Tony, Damian and Mark also decided to come together as men to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, attend Holy Mass and participate in the sacrament of Reconciliation. By making frequent use of the sacraments coupled with the meetings and accountability, it came as no surprise that these men quickly began to yield much fruit in their lives.
After three months of meeting, Damian prophetically suggested they invite other men to their weekly men’s gatherings. The men decided upon a date for the outreach, a title for their group and a meeting format. The date for the official outreach for The REAL MEN was set for Thursday December 2, 2004 with the only remaining question being, “Will men show up?” At the official kickoff of The REAL MEN, the triad became a band of nine brothers. Since this date, over 500 have come to the weekly accountability and formation meetings.
In January of 2006, Damian and Mark discussed the possibility of taking The REAL MEN outreach to a deeper level. At a late January prayer vigil commemorating the death of 47 million babies since the legalization of Roe v. Wade, the two men approached auxiliary bishop Joseph P. McFadden about the work of The REAL MEN and if they could present a proposal to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Damian and Mark met with Bishop McFadden on Thursday March 2, 2006 and the concept of The King’s Men began to take shape.
Through much prayer and petition before the Most Blessed Sacrament at the Perpetual Adoration Chapel at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Horsham and the 54 Day Rosary Novena, Mark shared with Damian the idea of The King’s Men. The two men began to develop the concept of the new apostolate all the while surrendering to God’s providence for guidance of their efforts.
Through contact with Bishop McFadden, now the 10th bishop of diocese of Harrisburg, Damian and Mark were introduced to many leaders in the Catholic Men’s Movement. After much discernment, together they began to make plans to bring men together for a day of recollection. The idea was to bring men to Philadelphia to hear a series of talks on masculine spirituality. In just over three weeks of promotion, primarily by word of mouth and email, Damian and Mark brought 86 men together from 7 different states for what was The King’s Men first official outreach on Sunday July 23, 2006. The men’s conference was held at the Malvern Retreat House in Malvern, PA and was appropriately entitled “The Quest for Masculine Spirituality”. Damian and Mark were more than ever convinced that God had ordained that The King’s Men become an apostolate in service to the Catholic Church.
The King’s Men apostolate began its full time outreach to men on Monday August 28, 2006. This was the feast day of Saint Augustine, the patron saint for this exciting new lay men’s apostolate. Since the launch of their full-time outreach to men, The King’s Men have traveled, sponsored and lectured at conferences, workshops and retreats for thousands of men all throughout the United States. As of 2010, The King’s Men have expanded their small men’s groups to the following states: PA, CT, VA, OH, TX, LA, IN, and CO. The need for small men’s groups continues to grow and The King’s Men aim to provide every diocese with an opportunity to duplicate their model.