Its objects and purposes were: "Mutual aid and benevolence, the moral, social, and intellectual improvement of its members, and the proper development of sentiments of devotion to the Catholic Church and loyalty to our country, in accordance with its motto, 'Pro Deo, Pro Patria': 'For God, For Country'".
Membership was divided into three classes:
Membership has always been limited to practicing Catholics.
The organization spread through the United States, Canada and related territories, Hawaii and the Philippines. In 1900 it had a membership of 20,000 centered in California. It was strongly encouraged by the Archbishop of San Francisco, Patrick William Riordan and received the approbation of Pope Leo XIII and Pope Saint Pius X, as well as the approval of various members of the Catholic hierarchy in the territories that it operated in
The Young Men's Institute is still active in a number of Catholic parishes in California, Hawaii and Indiana, although fraternal/social aspects are stressed today. It still runs a nominal death benefit program for benefit members and has a national convention. Its membership is still divided into three categories: benefit members (17 to 45), associate members (those over 45), and Honorary members (reserved for clergy).