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November 1, 2018 / Kerry Alys Robinson

Life, Death and the Communion of Saints

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My closest friend and colleague for more than twenty years, Fr. Bob Beloin, the Catholic Chaplain at Yale University, died a few weeks ago of glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. Grief, the price we pay for love, is all-consuming. But mercifully, so is faith.

At his Mass of Christian Burial, the homilist began by recalling the words of legendary seminary professor, Fr. Geno Walsh. “Jesus Christ promised those who followed him two things: Your life is going to have meaning and you are going to live forever. If you get a better offer, take it.”

On this day and tomorrow, we remember and celebrate those we have loved in this life who have been born into eternal life. And we are reminded that the invitation to sanctity is not for the unattainably pious or impossibly virtuous, but for all of us. All Saints Day is a joyful feast day and a reminder that we who are living are called to be in communion with those who have died.

The death of those we love can provide an aperture into the afterlife. What our faith teaches us about life and death would suggest that there is nothing generic about the afterlife, and our ongoing relationship with those who have died is not static. Examining and emulating their lives as well as the lives of those formally declared to be saints can make us more conscious of the community to which God calls us. It is striking to ponder the concrete realities of the lives of saints. They are uniquely themselves, like us with deeply human idiosyncrasies, flawed, often struggling, searching for meaning, wanting goodness, yearning for a deeper faith and for God. One thing for certain, the saints we encounter on earth never think they are saints. I suspect this is because their orientation is outward, other-centered, not inward and solipsistic.

The very friend for whom I mourn was an exquisite homilist, who relied on and promoted Catholic Women Preach as an invaluable resource for his brother priests, for deacons and for all lay members who have the gift and therefore the responsibility of breaking open Scripture, to inspire and to instruct as an important aspect of their spiritual leadership. Today’s Gospel text was among his most cherished. How appropriate to pray with the Beatitudes on All Saints Day. Fr Bob referred to the Beatitudes as “attitudes for being.” You are part of the community of saints even and especially when you are poor in spirit, when you hunger and thirst for righteousness sake, when you are merciful, when you are a peacemaker, when you are persecuted. In fact, as incongruously as it might seem when in such a distressing state, Jesus tells us you are blessed.

Before my friend died, he caught me silently crying and asked in all innocence the reason for my tears. I told him I was worried that once he died I would no longer have the inspiration and access to joy his friendship offered me; that no longer would he provide the life-giving motivation to carry on my work on behalf of the Church. I told him, “You and our friendship will be gone and I fear the lasting impact so great a loss will have on me.” His answer surprised me. He said, “None of that will change. After I die, use the present tense, not past. This is our faith. This is what we hold true. The promise of eternal life is not a fiction. We will be bound up in the communion of saints – a belief we profess every time we recite the Creed. We will see each other again. Love doesn’t end with death.”

“We will see each other again. Love doesn’t end with death.” Those words – that belief, central to our Christian faith – have consoled me in the aftermath of his death while coping with grief.

Today pray for the grace to believe in the communion of saints to which you are called and to which you belong. Pray for the grace to cultivate with more intention those attributes of the saints that are common to many, or particular to some. Be grateful. Choose to be more loving. Lean in to mercy. Persevere. Have the courage of heroic virtue. Be forgiving.

Only two weeks ago, on October 14th, Archbishop Oscar Romero and Pope Paul VI were canonized along with five others. Saint Oscar Romero said, “Let us not tire of preaching love. It is the force that will overcome the world.” And Saint Paul VI said, “If you want peace, work for justice.”

Rejoice and be grateful for the saints with whom we can be in relationship and from whom we can continue to learn.

And as you hold closely in your mind and heart those you love who have been born into eternal life, remember that Jesus promises:

“Blessed are you who mourn, for you will be comforted.”

These reflections by Kerry Alys Robinson were prepared for Catholic Women Preach. A link to their outstanding website and video of these reflections is here: http://www.catholicwomenpreach.org/preaching/11012018

September 29, 2018 / Kerry Alys Robinson

The Abundant Life of Fr. Bob Beloin

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He drew the distinction between the good life and abundant life.

Fr. Bob Beloin modeled his entire ministry on abundance. In what was nothing short of miraculous he cajoled unanimous approval from the formidable members of the Saint Thomas More Building Committee to inscribe his favorite quote from Scripture above the entrance to Boisi Hall in the Thomas E. Golden Jr. Center. John 10:10. They are Jesus’s words: “I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

He preached about abundant life from this pulpit and warned about confusing it with the good life. The good life is predicated on enjoying the finer things in life – expensive wine beautifully decanted, the best seats at a Broadway show, outdoor dining, preferably by the water. In contrast he said, “The abundant life is knowing God’s power within you, bringing you far beyond what you could accomplish on your own, in service to making this a better, more loving, and more just world.” One was about luxurious experience. The other was about magnanimous service.

Now let’s be very clear: if ever a man enjoyed the good life while living the abundant life it was Bob Beloin.

We, gathered here today, are all so deeply sad. But just imagine how Hy’s Limousine and Town Car Service feels at the loss!

Throughout his 71 years of life too short, his 45 years as the consummate priest, and his 25 years as Catholic Chaplain at Yale par excellence, he lived with remarkable intention, fully present, fully engaged, and radically other-centered. The secret to Fr. Bob’s abundant life was his unalterable faith in the immediacy of God’s presence, the strength of God’s merciful love, and his concomitant, personal commitment to be a beneficial presence in the world.

Large in stature and reputation, Fr. Bob had abundant energy and a natural appeal to young and old. Greeting a small child after mass, he swooped down and grabbed the stuffed animal – a giraffe – from her unsuspecting hands and quickly folded it into the collar of his chasuble. Wide-eyed she looked up at his towering figure, eyes following her beloved toy. He said, “Hi I’m Fr Bob. I’m part giant.” And then he laughed, with that full unmistakable, infectious laugh we so loved. Laughter his brother Dick and I, years later, would ensure remained a central part of every single day of his illness.

He was always the hardest working priest we have ever known, [sorry gentlemen] but his complete love for his ministry led him to boast that he had never worked a day in his life. Evidence would suggest otherwise – he made his mark wherever he served: Saint Ann’s, Saint Mary’s, Saint Barnabas, and of course his beloved Saint Thomas More Chapel and Center at Yale. At Yale he introduced small Church communities and 14 other new initiatives, built the Golden Center, raised more than $75 million, renovated the Chapel and Residence, established the Center for Music and Liturgy, sold out Carnegie Hall for a sacred music concert, commissioned an exquisite crucifix pointing to the Resurrection, founded ESTEEM, a national young adult leadership formation program now on campuses across the country and added a third Sunday liturgy, at 10:00pm, to accommodate the growing number of students and faculty joining this faith community.

He was the sauce boss in the soup kitchen, the perfect confessor, the most ardent admirer of his beloved choir, and a devoted colleague to his pastoral team and staff. For someone with such a gifted intellect, he was never arrogant. On the contrary he was intentionally disarming, loosely unfastening his collar if he felt that it served to intimidate or create false distance. He was a loyal friend to his high school classmates, to his brother priests, to the staff at Mory’s. When the Game came to the Yale Bowl, his tailgate was a banquet, replete with linen tablecloths -ironed no less – crystal goblets, candles, flowers, bloody marys and the papal flag.

He was as proud to be arrested for protesting the deportation of the Ramos family as he was to be awarded the Yale Medal.

His impact was local, diocesan, national and global. He ran retreats for priests in Australia and served at the American College in Louvain. He wanted to be the very best priest he could be and toward that end met faithfully for more than 30 years with his beloved priest support group. He didn’t just expand Catholic life at Yale, he raised the bar of Catholic campus ministry to inspire other chaplaincies, showing the world what campus ministry can look like with the right vision, tenacity, and an indefatigable pursuit of mission over maintenance.

He was a passionate advocate of lay leadership and collaboration, fiercely promoted the role of women in the Church, reminded us all that it is baptism that confers both gift and responsibility.

If there was one group of people, however, to which he was most attentive it was students. He would say with enthusiasm to every young adult he encountered, “There you are! The hope of the Church, right there!” Bringing a Catholic intellectual and spiritual center of consequence to fruition mattered deeply to him because young adults mattered deeply to him and they deserved an adult, mature faith the better to inform their leadership.

In 2002 following revelations of the sexual abuse crisis in the Church, Fr. Bob took decisive action. Courageous, unafraid, prophetic, and prescient, he hosted a three-day conference entitled Governance, Accountability and the Future of the Catholic Churchin order to be part of the solution. It examined the conditions that contributed to the crisis and began to map a blueprint for care and justice of victims, the restoration of trust and credibility in the Church, and reform necessary to ensure protection, safety, accountability and transparency. He was a fervent advocate of Leadership Roundtable from its inception.

He taught us so much. A few of his life’s convictions and directives:

“Fear is useless, what is needed is trust.”

“‘No’ is a full sentence.”

“The theological term for that is nonsense.”

“Whenever possible, always go first class. Just stay half as long.”

“When you are at the end of your rope, remember that God is just at the beginning of Hers.” Ok, I edited that one, slightly.

And God forbid you spoke about someone’s replacement. “Successor!” he would insist. “We don’t replace people. We succeed them.”

You were blessed, not lucky.

And if you lamented to him what you should do. Or should not do, should have done or should not have done, he would entreat you to “Stop shoulding on me!” He didn’t want our faith, or prayer life, or service or generosity to be an obligation, something we should do, but freely chosen, something we yearned to do. Therein lies abundant life.

He could laugh at himself. Which was fortunate in that he had such frequent opportunity to exercise that virtue, and not only on the annual high holy day of April 1st.

He thought this was particularly funny. As background, we worked together for ten years. It was my responsibility on his behalf to call influential Yale alumni all over the country and secure appointments. On one occasion my call was to a prominent veterinarian who agreed after much persuasion on my part, despite a very demanding schedule, to see us when we were in the greater Philadelphia area. The details were arranged and before hanging up, the veterinarian’s secretary said, “Oh, one more question: What kind of a horse is Father Beloin?”

He was consistently generous. I never saw him pass by a person asking for money without stopping, reaching into his pocket for bills, handing them to the supplicant and saying, “Hi, what’s your name?” Promoting human dignity was his compass. Stopping for coffee, he would remind me that “the difference between a good tip and a great tip is often just a dollar. Always give more.”

His homilies were exhortations of beauty and inspiration. He made it seem so easy. But the truth is he labored for hours with each homily, praying over the readings, making sure he was applying them to the concrete realities and concerns of the day. Often, he would conclude his homilies with the invitation to “Come to the Eucharist and pray for a certain grace…to be more loving, to grow in holiness, to slow down, to cultivate forgiveness.” His homilies were instructive, challenging, and motivating. Truly worthy of standing ovations. But on more than one occasion we were reprimanded not to clap. He joked that if he allowed the applause, he’d have to permit the booing!

Our beloved Fr. Bob, as his colleagues will attest, had great attention to some details. He expected ice to float on the top of a martini. Hot plates for hot food. Chairs, especially for prominent lectures in the Golden Center had to be precisely and uniformly apart. We actually have a tool to measure this. He was berserk if there was “extra furniture” in the sanctuary. “This is the celebration of the Eucharist, not a theatre set!” Communion always under both species. Mass began precisely on time, even though he was frequently late in other arenas because he could “always get three more quick things done right now.” Napkins had to match in color, in presentation and in placement. Only extra jumbo shrimp, for goodness sake. He always rode in the front car of MetroNorth, to be first out to glance back, mesmerized by the passengers streaming into Grand Central Terminal. Opera at the MET would not be complete without dinner on the Grand Tier. The Sacred Triduum was his annual opus. Water had to be warm as a sign of his deep consideration for us when he washed our feet or baptized the Elect. And the fire for the Easter Vigil had to be at least 15 feet tall or it was an invalid mass.

Hospitality was his cardinal virtue. His brother and I read him hundreds of letters written to him over the course of his illness. Again and again people expressed how loving Bob was. A recurring theme: “You showed me what a welcoming, vibrant, loving, and inclusive faith community could be. You brought me back to my faith, and back to the Church.” He presided at our marriages, baptized our children, buried those we loved. He celebrated with us in time of great joy and held vigil with us during our deepest agony. He was always on call and he always showed up.

He didn’t aim for precision and perfection as a sign of his own neuroses; he did it for you, his most fortunate guest, at mass, at dinner, at lectures, at the soup kitchen.

He could also get some details wrong. When two young alumni had their third child he told me with great joy that after two boys they had delivered a girl and he was going to fly to Denver for the baptism. When the mother happened to call the next day, I congratulated her on her baby girl and assured her that Fr. Bob wouldn’t miss the baptism in Denver for the world. She said, “Thank you. Tell him it’s a boy and we live in Phoenix and we should be all set!”

He was a connoisseur of great American steakhouses and tasting menus with wine pairings, the better to toast “Here’s to my brother, and spending his inheritance!” [Sorry Dick!] He knew how to enjoy life to the full: international cruises with his brother, Tanglewood, bungee jumping, parasailing, plane gliding, rollercoasters, trips to Mohegan Sun, daylong excursions with his staff. He lived best in the present moment – and consequently was present to you – so present, that even a conversation by phone invariably resulted in him missing his exit or more inconveniently, his connecting flight.

The depth of his joy was commensurate with his capacity to empathize and bravely attend to us in our times of greatest anguish. When I asked him, only two months ago, how he could bear to bear witness to so much intense sorrow and tragedy in people’s lives, he told me, “It is a real privilege to be invited into people’s lives when they are at their most vulnerable. There often isn’t much to say. It’s a ministry of presence. Showing up and just being there. Sometimes it is so overwhelmingly sad.” He was present in your greatest suffering, the way he believed Christ was.

I can’t tell you how often after a long and very full day, when finally, alone, he would go to the Harding Meditation Room, his favorite space in the Golden Center – where his body lay in repose last night – and pray for you, by name, that God would bless your life, console your heart and bring you peace.

He would forgive us our tears today for he understood that sorrow and loss and suffering crack open the human heart for greater capacity to love and be merciful. He would gently remind us, though, “Don’t try to figure out why people we love die far too soon. Just ask yourself the fundamental question: What does this experience of loss mean for us? How will it help us to be people of light and love, hope and abundance, in accordance with God’s intention?”

Finally, today and for many days to come, he wants his brother and me to thank you. Each one of you, his friends, parishioners and colleagues. Thank you for blessing his exceedingly good and abundant life.

And take his own words to heart:

“Nothing separates us from God and God’s love! What a glorious promise! It turns death, in all its reality into a beautiful thing.”

Eulogy offered by Kerry Alys Robinson during the Mass of Christian Burial for Fr. Robert Louis Beloin at Saint Thomas More Chapel at Yale University on September 28, 2018

 

September 6, 2018 / Kerry Alys Robinson

Protecting Children at the Border and in the Church

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When our son and daughter were little I told them that if we ever got separated – in a park, at a museum, in any public space – they should look for a mother with young children and go to her because she would keep them safe and know how to reunite us as quickly as possible.

As an American and as a Catholic who has spent her life working on behalf of the Church to better equip it to alleviate human suffering, protect the vulnerable, champion justice and exercise a prophetic moral voice in the public square, these days I am bereft on behalf of children.

Our youngest child, now twenty, spent this summer working for our local Congresswoman on Capitol Hill. To her credit, Sophie has not let our national political acrimony or ignominy dissuade her from the conviction that public service is a noble calling especially in advancing the common good. She was struck by the passion and commitment of both colleagues and constituents. At no time was that more evident than when citizens called, without pause, distraught and outraged by our government’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border. One woman’s call was particularly plaintive. Crying, she called to register her full opposition to the inhumane practice. Through her tears she explained that she had just left her son off at summer camp. This admittedly privileged right-of-passage and loving goodbye had left her heart aching for her small son. She could not imagine the brutality of having him forcibly taken from her with no guarantee of being reunited. In total, more than 1,000 people called; the majority were mothers. Today approximately 700 children, including 40 children who are 4 years old or younger, have still not been reunified with their parents.

The staff and volunteers of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, and its indefatigable executive director, Sr. Norma Pimentel, have tenaciously responded to this abominable practice and the plight of refugees. I am grateful for Sr. Norma, for Catholic Charities, for Hope Border Institute and for many other Catholic agencies and people of good will responding with mercy to human suffering at our borders.

I am grateful, too, for the Church which has formed and inspired so many deeply moral heroes and heroines many of whom work tirelessly for a more accountable and transparent institutional Church, while ministering to those in need.

These are not easy days to be Catholic, or to keep one’s faith in what the Church can be at its most accountable, most transparent, and best governed. For 16 years, and especially in the past two months, Catholics in the U.S. have learned with excruciating detail how sexually abusive priests criminally, irreparably hurt children and culpable Church leaders systemically failed to protect them.

Just as my daughter won’t give up on the nobility of public service, despite the dishonorable behavior of some of our country’s leaders, I won’t give up on the Church, despite the egregious behavior of some of its leaders. I will continue to work with people of profound integrity and dedication – ordained, religious and lay leaders –  to effect necessary, managerial reform of the Church and to inculcate transparency, accountability, contemporary best managerial practices, and standards of ethics and excellence in every aspect of the Church.

Most of all, I won’t give up on protecting children.

A good first step, long overdue, is to ensure that women are included in leadership and decision-making, together with men, at every level of the Catholic Church. So much the better if they happen to be mothers.

 

This column by Kerry Alys Robinson was written for and published in Chicago Catholic.

July 13, 2018 / Kerry Alys Robinson

It is Always Possible

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I have been caring for my closest friend, a Catholic priest, since he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in early January. Helping him absorb the implications of such difficult news, accompanying him to doctor’s appointments and treatment, and ensuring there is humor and hope, encouragement and empathy each day has been deeply meaningful and excruciatingly heartbreaking.

Working with Fr. Bob Beloin twenty years ago to expand Catholic life on Yale University’s campus gave me a privileged glimpse into the life of the consummate priest. He, the hardest working priest I have ever known, boasts “I’ve never worked a day in my life,” so fully does he love the priesthood. And yet he has never been off-duty; he has always been available to anyone in need of his uncommonly healing pastoral care.

I learned, while bearing witness to his ministry, that everyone is carrying something. There is true human pain, often invisible, within the minds and hearts and sometimes bodies of everyone you encounter.

For this reason, our friend Bishop Peter Rosazza urges, “Never add to the burden of others or take away their joy.”

During these months of nearly unbearable personal sorrow right in the midst of grace and the beauty of friendship, I have been astonished at the powerful impact of unalloyed kindness. There is the example of Ronnie Meder and his teammates from the Yale Football Ivy League championship team who carried Fr. Bob in his wheelchair up and down a flight of stairs every day for weeks so that we could get him to treatment while we awaited the installation of a customized lift. These strong, compassionate students were never late and made it seem as though it was Fr. Bob doing them a favor, assisting with their strengthening and conditioning. There is the generosity of exquisite talent by composer Julian Revie, mezzo-soprano Karolina Wojteczko, and members of the Saint Thomas More Chapel choir, directed by Richard and Evie Gard, who perform twenty-minute concerts of sacred music and transportive arias in his living room. There is Fr Bob’s brother, who left his home and life in Florida to move into the Chaplain’s Residence to care for him with a magnanimity that is breathtaking. There are the hundreds of people who have prepared meals, sent flowers, written heartwarming letters, brought communion, and prayed, daily, for healing and comfort and peace.

These days I am on the look-out for signs of grace and God’s mercy. And they are everywhere, especially in the seemingly unremarkable acts of charity – a kind word, patience, encouragement, understanding.

I leave Fr Bob’s residence, already tears beginning to fill my eyes now safely out of his view. It is unseasonably hot. A mother and her young son, saddled with grocery bags, stop to ask if they are walking in the correct direction to their destination many blocks away. I begin to answer and then, mindful of the compelling beauty of the mercy that has been so evident these months, I offer to drive the mother and son to their destination. They hesitate and then accept, grateful for the cool air in the car and the distance it has spared them walking. As they take leave, before the little boy gathers up his many bags, he throws his arms around me and says, “Thank you.” But it is they who have given me the blessing.

Everyone carries something and even the greatest pastoral leaders among us can’t truly know the extent and specificity of others’ suffering. Nor can we ever know the difference kindness makes in any given moment.

I tell Fr. Bob I am writing about kindness. Lucid and wise, he remarks that you never know the impact of one encouraging word, one kind intervention, or one merciful action.

“Be kind whenever possible,” he quotes the Dalai Lama. “It is always possible.”

 

This column by Kerry Alys Robinson was written for and published in Chicago Catholic.

December 2, 2017 / Kerry Alys Robinson

Ministry of Hope

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Reflections offered on the occasion of Lilly Endowment’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders in Indianapolis on November 28, 2017.

 

“I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” – John 10:10

“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” – 1 Peter 3:15

The beautiful sunrise this morning, brought to mind a favorite quote by Bernard Williams: “There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.”

In this season of thanksgiving we have much for which to be grateful, not least of which is deeply meaningful work and the opportunity to live out our vocations in the Church and in the world.

Gratitude is central to our faith, to our relationship with God, to authentic prayer, and to a life of effective stewardship.

Fortuitously today is Giving Tuesday, the sixth annual global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Make no mistake, generosity is humankind’s birthright. The truth is we are all called to give and receive. And one does not need to be materially wealthy to be generous.

Henri Nouwen observed that the crucial task, the central yearning, of each of our lives is to know, fully and completely, that God loves you just for being you. We spend much of our adult lives doubting this, talking ourselves out of this, refusing to believe it, arguing against it. But every once in a while, we experience the profound conviction of God’s radical unalterable, abundant love for us. And that is a powerful, transformative moment of grace.

Realizing how abundantly God loves you, elicits profound gratitude and desire to love God back. But how do we love God back?

Henri explained that we love God back by being fruitful with our lives, which is to take all that has been given to us and to place it at the service of others, of creation, of life itself. It is to be a beneficial presence in the world. It is to contribute and bless, rather than to hoard or condemn. It is to be the people we are meant to be, to recognize and bring potential to fruition, to be life-giving, to be bearers of hope. It is to make manifest daily exemplary stewardship in the context of God’s abundant generous love.

Faith-based philanthropy and fundraising when done faithfully and well, invite people into a relationship of common purpose, fulfill a noble objective, point to meaning and transcendence, offer hope, and contribute to the lives of others, often those in great need. Both philanthropy and fundraising demand a radical generosity of spirit, time, effort, faith, tenacity and conviction. One is not possible without the other. Both require a relinquishing of self, a disposition of humility before the great potential at hand, and the shared goal of blessing other people’s lives.

Money is valuable, but is not the only blessing we have at our disposal. We also have time, presence, intellectual capital, managerial expertise, talent, mercy, joy, and encouragement to name a few of the blessings we are also called to recognize, be grateful for, and offer.

Leadership Roundtable is honored to be both grantee and partner to Lilly Endowment’s Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. We exist to promote best practices and accountability in the management, finances, communications, and human resources development of the Church including greater incorporation of the expertise of the laity.

The church is sui generis by virtue of its divine mission; it is not a corporation in the way that we think of most human institutions, especially those motivated predominantly by a monetary return to the shareholder. Nevertheless, the Church is comprised of people, facilities and finances that deserve to be managed with the highest levels of excellence, care, ethics, and accountability precisely because the mission of the Church is that much more important that the bottom line of a for-profit corporation. (A friend, a Religious Sister of Mercy quips, “If you’re only focused on the bottom line you’re aiming too low.”)

A few years ago, a new pastor attended our Toolbox for Pastoral Management retreat. When he had been ordained a Catholic priest for only 18 months, he was assigned as pastor of three parishes, two with schools. He was drowning in administrative and financial responsibility for which he had been ill prepared in seminary. At the conclusion of the five-day Toolbox intensive, he remarked that the courses allowed him to begin to develop a vocabulary of management and finance. He commented on how practical, accessible, content-rich and sorely needed the material was. And then he said something we have never forgotten. He said he was grateful to know that he did not have to manage in isolation, that there were people and resources to support and assist him. That what we are, at our core, is “a ministry of hope.” In 12 and a half years since Leadership Roundtable was founded, this is the single greatest understanding of and compliment for our mission and tenacious effort to serve the Church we love.

“Christ came that we might have life and have it more abundantly.” To interpret this solely through the lens of material comfort does a disservice to the Gospel. Our invitation is to be in relationship with him, to emulate him, to lose our lives in service to others only to find we have obtained a superabundance of new life, vitality, purpose, meaning, hope and joy.

I can think of no better person to quote than our own beloved and deeply respected John Wimmer, my friend and role model, without whom the initiative we celebrate today would not have been possible. In his exquisite book entitled Blessed Endurance, soon to be published, he writes:

“Hope is the lifeline tossed out to us from God. It sustains us when we feel like we are drowning, and God gently pulls us and the lifeline toward the shores of spiritual growth. With hope, we also have faith—not faith that we will be spared pain and despair but faith in the God who will lead us through the difficult times. Therefore, in our struggle to understand God’s will, let us not concentrate solely on our pain and despair (although we know we are to accept them); instead, let us look with hope and faith toward attaining new, rich experiences of the abundant life God has given us.”

My explanation to anyone who asks me for a reason for my hope is simple: you, Each and every one of you gathered here today, your leadership and your example of what it means to be Christ-like.

Yours is a ministry of hope when your zeal for your ministry and mission demands a commitment to excellence in every aspect of your ministry and every facet that impacts your ministry.

Yours is a ministry of hope when you implement and adhere to high standards of excellence and believe your ministry is worthy of profound generosity.

Yours is a ministry of hope when you are transparent and accountable with your congregation’s finances.

When you recognize, invite, and utilize the talents and skills of all members of your faith communities.

When you conquer fear, when you address your own or your community’s theological ambivalence about wealth.

Yours is a ministry of hope when you see donors as subjects, not objects, people who are looking for meaning, who want to make a positive difference in something rooted in faith, benefiting others.

Yours is a ministry of hope when you make it a joy to give, serve as the catalyst inspiring generosity in others.

Yours is a ministry of hope when you work to lessen the financial burdens of others and show them a way forward.

Yours is a ministry of hope when you lessen the chasm between polarized members – in our Church and in our country.

When you embody mercy, making the world less cold and more just, yours is a ministry of hope.

Yours is a ministry of hope when you are joyful and you celebrate what is right in order to find the strength to fix what is wrong.

Yours is a ministry of hope when you touch the minds and hearts of people in their joy and sorrow, fear and anxiety, and when you dedicate time to ensure excellence in preaching and life-giving pastoral presence.

It is a good way to be: to live in such a manner that everyone who knows you sees that God’s promise of abundance is the hope and joy within you and this promise, hope and joy is their inheritance, too.

 

August 1, 2017 / Kerry Alys Robinson

Embracing Dialogue, Advancing the Commonweal

ConvocationFor the first time in 100 years, Catholic bishops in the United States hosted a national convocation of lay, religious and ordained leaders to explore and celebrate new and effective ways to promote the joy of the Gospel and form missionary disciples. More than 80% of dioceses participated formally by sending delegates accompanied by their bishop, and hundreds of leaders representing national Catholic organizations and ministries were included. In total, 3,500 people attended over four days in July in Orlando, Florida.

My colleagues and I, representing Leadership Roundtable which promotes best managerial practices in the church, were grateful for the invitation to be present, to serve on panels, to staff an informational booth and to interact with the many delegates from across the country.

Personally, it felt like a large family reunion – with people I have long loved and admired, people to whom I quizzically marvel about being related, and not a few eccentric relatives.

What was most striking, most laudable and most encouraging was the diversity.

The diversity was immediately evident in gender, age, ethnicity, and ability. All 50 states were represented. There were women religious; deacons; single, married, separated, divorced and widowed lay leaders; parents; seminarians; novitiates; cardinals; brothers; and bishops. Myriad ministries and apostolates were represented. Impressively, the women and men gathered represented the full theological and political spectrum. What was most remarkable, however, was how pronounced in civility, basic human kindness, genuine curiosity, decency, and respect the delegates and their interactions were – on panels, in break-out sessions, over meals, and in the informal moments of the convocation.

Of course, for people of faith who are called to be Christ-like, decency and respect should not be notable, but defining. And yet it has appeared these days that there is no place immune to our political atmosphere of divisiveness and acrimony. To the dismay of many, our own church has found itself polarized and its members quick to judge and categorize, eager to condemn and eschew dialogue. At times, we are no better as members of our faith family than we are as citizens of our country.

It could not have been an easy commitment on the part of the USCCB and the planning committee to host such an ambitious convocation at such an acrimonious political time in our country. But I am glad they did. It was a step in the right direction, for our church and, however unintended, for our body politic.

The convocation was a reminder that people who have vastly different experiences, formation, expressions of piety, ministries, pastoral and leadership roles, and priorities can enter into civil, respectful dialogue about the health and vitality of the church. It was a reminder that all of us, always, have more to learn. And it was an education in how truly wide the net can be – must be – cast; how expansive the tent can be – must be – pitched. And what a beautiful blessing this is.

There is no doubt it was frustrating and perplexing at times, for all of us who find ourselves on one side of the theological or political spectrum, despite often resisting such banal and unimaginative categorization. But discouragement, dismay, and enmity did not triumph.

Perhaps it was the emphasis on joy. Perhaps it was Pope Francis’s injunction to encounter people different than oneself and accompany them. Perhaps it was the daily celebration of the Eucharist, the commitment to prayer, the invitation to the sacrament of reconciliation. Grace was evident in dialogue and active listening. And the effect was an inchoate but palpable hope for our church and, by extension, for our country and for our world.

We left the Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America with the conviction that character matters. Humility matters. Extending the benefit of the doubt to people one disagrees with matters. Marveling in God’s diversity matters. And if there is anything sacrosanct and urgent about what it means to be Catholic in the world today it is that we are all – every single living person on the planet – made in the image and likeness of God. Treating everyone, without exception, with a little awe, respect, and even reverence might be just what the church and world needs.

This column was written for and published in Chicago Catholic.

 

June 26, 2017 / Kerry Alys Robinson

Laity, Leadership, Justice and Joy

rome pic for nalm

Sunset over St Peter’s Basilica

To the hard working members of the board of the National Association for Lay Ministry (NALM) and particularly to board chair Mark Erdosy, thank you for the invitation to be with you. I have a particular love for this important association supporting lay ministry. I hold the role of the laity in the life and vitality of the church in a preeminent place. Your mission is crucial. There is also a nostalgic reason I care deeply about NALM. Forty years ago when NALM was created, our family’s foundation, the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities, had the great privilege of being one of your earliest donor partners. NALM was founded within a year of FADICA (Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities). I have literally grown up post-Vatican II with both of these important networks informing my life, vocation, ministry and service to the church. I thank you deeply for your important influence.

Full disclosure: For as long as I have been aware, I have passionately loved the church and held its potential in the highest esteem. Its explicitly religious mission has formed the person I am today. That it is the largest humanitarian network in the world renders me forever committed to its health and vitality.

This is neither blind love nor infatuation, but love borne of time and gratitude and possibility. The more I am engaged in the life of the church, the more I become aware of its history, its mission, its ministries and its capacity. The church has ennobled me, and at times broken my heart.

Seventy-two years ago, our great grandparents, John and Helena Raskob, established a private family foundation with two intentions. They wanted all of the foundation’s resources to be used exclusively to support the Catholic Church throughout the world and they wanted their children and descendants to be stewards of the foundation’s resources. All participation is voluntary, non-remunerative and understood to be a serious commitment of time, focus and engagement in the life of the church.

Today there are nearly 100 members, all descendants of John and Helena, actively engaged in the work of the Raskob Foundation. It has been an uncommon privilege to serve the church in this way, with the unanticipated, beneficial consequence of evangelization for our family.

Our faith lives are stronger because we have had the opportunity to meet, learn from and support some of the most inspiring, generous, effective people the global church has to offer. We have seen the very best of the church through the lens of your ministries.

Parenthetically, as a child I was drawn to women and men like you – lay, religious and ordained – who had dedicated their lives to ministry and pastoral care and social justice. I observed that while these childhood heroines and heroes often bore witness to the worst of what humankind does to one another and to our planet, there was a palpable sense of joy about them. They knew who they were, and whose they were. Their lives were imbued with purpose and meaning. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be like you.

At the Raskob Foundation we have also seen tremendous challenges facing the church and have been brought up to believe that we have an obligation to help solve those challenges, regardless of how difficult or seemingly insurmountable they may be.

A beloved professor, spiritual director and Sister of Mercy, once advised, “Remember what it is you most love about the church and membership in it. Name what you love. Claim what you love. It will provide ballast to allow you to navigate with fidelity and focus when you are disappointed and discouraged.”

I have taken this advice to heart and highly recommend the discipline.

My list is long and wide. I love our church’s rich intellectual tradition, social justice teaching, the community of saints, sacramental life and imagination, mercy, the Eucharist, the primacy of conscience, prayer and transcendence, forgiveness, the preferential option for the poor, the injunction to be Christ-like. I love that where there is human suffering, the church is at the vanguard of providing relief, promoting justice and advocating for peace. I love our Pope Francis – the world’s pope. I love that he has given us Laudato Si and despite obstacles and challenges, some inexplicably heartbreaking and gratuitous, it provides people of good will a seminal roadmap to care for our common home.

Good catechesis allows for the appropriation and cultivation of a mature adult faith to live out one’s faith in the world, the better to transform it through service and mercy, generosity and grace. This responsibility also extends to the church itself. Lay participation, leadership, generosity and active engagement in the life of the church are vital for its own transformation and mission efficacy. Exercising baptismal responsibility means actively contributing one’s gifts and expertise to strengthen the church.

Taking responsibility for the church, calling it to greater levels of holiness, accountability, transparency and trust is a responsibility of baptism. This understanding inspired Geoff Boisi to create Leadership Roundtable, a network of Catholic leaders whose sole mission is to help solve temporal challenges facing the church by harnessing intellectual, problem-solving capability, entrepreneurial acumen, contemporary best practices and a profound commitment to excellence and ethics.

Baptism is our gift. Exercising responsibility to ensure the church is welcoming, accountable, effective and the very best it can be is our right and our duty.

I have many examples of lay leaders who exercise their baptismal responsibility with breathtaking and compelling efficacy. I am going to name just eight to demonstrate the breadth and depth and diversity of lay contribution to the life and vitality of our beloved church.

Carolyn Woo, past president of Catholic Relief Services

Jack DiGioia, president of Georgetown University

Donna Orsuto, founder, Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas in Rome

Frank Butler, past president of FADICA

Arturo Chavez, president, Mexican American Catholic College

Ralph McCloud, director, Catholic Campaign for Human Development

Marie Dennis, co-president, Pax Christi International

Betty Anne Donnelly, co-founder, Catholic Women Preach

Think of these important apostolates and ministries and the exemplary leadership and faith that is manifest. Our church is blessed and blessed in particular by laity.

Although quite literally these were the first eight lay leaders that sprung to mind as I prepared my remarks for you, not surprisingly they all have certain qualities in common. They serve. They collaborate. They dream. And they evince joy.

Joy is a hallmark of the Christian life and faith.

How do we in our ministry and vocation cultivate joy?

We would do well to be aware. Pay attention. Be present. Don’t rush by any part of our wild and precious lives. Remember that we cannot protect ourselves from sorrow without also protecting ourselves from joy. Cultivate a merciful heart. Encounter people who are different than you. Accompany people who are in far greater need than you. Let you heart break by this beautiful world and our common humanity. In vulnerability we find joy.

People of faith, people of good will, are instructed to bear joy and to bear witness to joy even in the midst of oppression, suffering, poverty and broken-heartedness. This is not facile joy, but joy that comes from faith, faith in God and faith in something larger than oneself. This is the joy Msgr. Bill Stumpf elucidated in our opening liturgy, joy rooted in hope.

It is a spiritual discipline to cultivate. Faith that it is possible to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. Faith that it is possible to correct unjust structures. Faith that it is possible to eliminate extreme poverty and inequality. Faith that it is possible to ensure potable water and food for all people. Faith that we can protect and care for and be good stewards of our planet, our common home. Faith that peace can be achieved, that reconciliation can be effected, that forgiveness can be extended.

How in the midst of communal and personal suffering can one access joy, let alone radiate it? It seems incongruous, if not impossible.

Life does not have to be perfect for us to find reasons to be grateful. In the midst of tremendous human suffering there can be found compassion, mercy, altruism and love. Be aware of such grace and human kindness. It is everywhere, even and especially when there is concomitant human anguish and loss. Rejoice in this. Gratitude begets gratitude. Blessings multiply. And the fruit of the habit of gratitude is that soon one experiences blessing where before one experienced only lament.

When we bear witness to joy we offer hope to a broken world. And the world needs hope. This is what you – the members and constituents and beneficiaries of NALM are about. This is what you do every day in your ministry. And our Church and world are better for your witness and example.

And you don’t need to be alone in this. This is one of the great insights the founders of NALM had in creating this association and supportive community.

Hopefully you saw Pope Francis’s surprise appearance by video at the recent TED talks in Vancouver. He said, “The future [has] a name, and its name is hope. A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you. And then there will be another ‘you,’ and another ‘you,’ and it turns into an ‘us.’”

We are a paschal people for whom suffering and death is never the end of the story. In our Catholic DNA, in our marrow, in our imagination is the conviction and experience that out of suffering and death can come new life.

Fifteen years ago our church was engulfed in the sexual abuse crisis. At the time I served as director of development for Yale’s Catholic Center. It was the most profound experience of lay – clergy collaboration that I have ever had. I worked in partnership for ten years with Fr. Bob Beloin, Catholic Chaplain at Yale and a priest from the Archdiocese of Hartford.

A major point of emphasis in our effort to raise money for Catholic campus ministry at Yale was the elevation of Catholic intellectual life on campus. Proudly we revealed to alumni and prospective donors that we were elevating and celebrating Catholic intellectual discourse, taking the topics of the day, illuminating them from the perspective of faith and inviting students into a dynamic discussion about the relevance and role of faith. Halfway through the Saint Thomas More at Yale capital campaign, quite dramatically and suddenly, and most certainly devastatingly, the topic of the day was the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis.

Nothing in our lifetime was more damaging, discrediting, heartbreaking or shocking about the church than these revelations.

It would have been tempting to admit our lack of culpability in the crisis and do nothing. Tempting, but not faithful. We knew that to do nothing is to be complicit. Instead we hosted a three-day conference entitled Governance, Accountability and the Future of the Catholic Church to examine the underlining conditions that may have contributed to the crisis with a view to making a meaningful and positive contribution to our church. The conference was held in March of 2003. We hosted 500 people over three days, featuring 30 nationally recognized speakers including then Bishop (now Cardinal) Wuerl from Pittsburgh who opened the conference with an important keynote, followed by Peter Steinfels, religion editor at the New York Times. The subject matter was wrenching and yet everyone left hopeful. We all belonged to the church. This was our church, understanding the problems at hand was the first step, committing to being part of the solution was the second step, acting on that commitment was the third step. Participants left with the sense that it was possible, even if very difficult, to help call the church to greater levels of accountability and holiness. We could all play a role in making a positive contribution. And clearly the laity had much to offer, particularly in the areas of management of human and financial resources, contemporary best practices and solutions to complex temporal challenges facing church leaders.

Three months later in Memphis, Tennessee on June 7, 2003, I met Geoff Boisi who delivered an impeccable keynote to a prominent group of Catholic philanthropists convened by FADICA on the same theme, with remarkably consistent conclusions and with the same heartfelt motivation. Geoff wanted to help our church overcome what was properly understood as a managerial crisis. I was spell bound by his presentation, the content, the delivery and the respect he commanded by his presence, leadership and obvious dedication.

The best of Vatican II is personified in Geoff Boisi. He could have done anything with his time during this period of so much challenge for the church. An extraordinary leader and visionary, world renown for his financial and investment acumen, past chair of Boston College, member of the Papal Foundation, co-founder of Mentor, wonderful husband, father and grandfather, Geoff deserved some time off. But when his church was in crisis he did everything possible to effect healing and reconciliation. Exercising baptismal responsibility—not only taking his faith to make the world better but taking his faith to make our church better, Geoff founded the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management.

It was a grand experiment that had never been tried anywhere in the world before this moment. And it is a comprehensive example of stewardship on the part of all of the baptized to care well for what has been entrusted to the church and to recognize the enormous potential before us.

Leadership Roundtable is an exceptional network of senior level leaders from all walks of life, all of whom are Catholic and committed to making a meaningful contribution to the church. It is comprised of ordained, religious and lay leaders from a diverse composite of sectors, industries, geographical regions and experiences. Senior level executive members come from the corporate, nonprofit, philanthropic, financial, communications, executive recruiting, marketing, academic, and other sectors including the church itself. When Leadership Roundtable was first created, 24 national Catholic networks- including NALM- whose own missions had a bearing on ours were identified and the chair or executive director was invited to be a member. It was extremely important that we not duplicate efforts, that we collaborate whenever possible, and that we not reinvent what has already been created but rather analyze whether we can build on such solutions, practices and protocols.

These women and men bring with them decades of successful leadership, problem solving ability, managerial expertise, financial acumen, sophisticated command of technology, and capabilities in marketing and communications. They value the church and want it to be strengthened. They yearn to contribute to the restoration of trust that had been so painfully shattered by the sexual abuse crisis. They want to help usher in a new day of ethics, transparency, accountability, best practices and excellence. They highlight the particular skill and expertise lay people have at their disposal and the importance of recognizing and inviting such expertise to strengthen the church.

Catholics are no longer solely an immigrant population in the United States. Thanks in part to the G.I. bill and access to quality education, Catholics have risen to levels of affluence and influence and now count among the highest echelons of leadership in every sector and industry. Given such vast leadership expertise, laity have been a wholly underutilized resource in the church. If there is any grace that came from the sexual abuse crisis in the U.S. it is that it roused laity out of our lethargy and enkindled a desire to act on our convictions that a better managed church, a more transparent church and more accountable church, would be more effective at its mission, more faithful to its purpose.

Ordained and religious church leaders had rarely looked to laity for more than financial contributions. To ignore their considerable command of managerial expertise and problem-solving capability, their vocations of pastoral service, ministry and leadership, when it is clear this is what the church needs and can significantly benefit from is to be a poor steward of one of the most valuable assets of all.

Geoff knew this and set about harnessing it for the good of the church.

One of our founding trustees, Fr. Don Monan, SJ who died in March of this year summed up the urgency of our mission this way:

“Poor management of school systems issues in poor education. Poor management of courts of law leads to inferior justice. Poor management of corporations results in low returns for investors. Poor management of the church leads to compromised mission.”

We have particular charisms at Leadership Roundtable. We exclusively focus on the temporal affairs of the church and do not wade into doctrinal matters. We are intentionally positive and laudatory. We emphasize our convening capability. We insist on candor and charity. We prize collaboration. We eschew competition. We imagine how much can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit. We believe baptism confers rights and responsibilities. We think big and we never give up.

Thanks to Geoff and women and men like Geoff, today the church in the U.S. has at its disposal a remarkable network of committed Catholic leaders from diverse sectors and industries where Catholic philanthropic capital and Catholic intellectual capital is brought together to address complex contemporary temporal challenges. Social entrepreneurial rigor is encouraged for high impact solutions. Practical, canonically compliant solutions are the result; evangelization of the participating leaders is a byproduct. All assets are utilized, not only financial. Imagination and intellect, expertise and perspective play dominant roles in deliberations. Problems are addressed. Solutions are proposed. Action is taken. Effect is measured. Everyone benefits.

Of course we have much work still to attend to and one of our particular passions is equipping young adults for active leadership in the church.

Many young adult Catholics enjoy a positive experience of the church while they are in college, either because they attend a Catholic university or because they attend a secular university that has a vibrant Catholic campus ministry. Catholic students note the exceptional liturgies, relevant homilies, student participation, opportunities for service, and attention to helping them develop a mature adult faith that is both cognitive and affective. Why does the church lose such active participants when they graduate?

The prognosis has always been the same. “College graduates drift away from the church for a period of time. They move to new cities, start new jobs, and encounter neighborhood parishes with very few single young adults. We know that the church risks losing them for a time, but they will come back when they get married, have a child or experience a personal crisis.”

I have heard this all of my life. But surely this is not a good strategic plan.

Leadership Roundtable in partnership with Saint Tomas More Catholic Chapel and Center at Yale created a curriculum and framework for preparing college students for meaningful leadership in the church immediately upon graduation. Leaders from across the country whose expertise was in young adult ministry, campus ministry, human resource development, leadership development, theology, canon law, ecclesiology and sociology were convened. A young adult leadership formation program was created called ESTEEM, Engaging Students to Enliven the Ecclesial Mission. Piloted on twelve campuses from Stanford to Yale and now in its seventh year, campus ministers invite “the best and brightest” young adult Catholics to participate in the yearlong program. Through retreats, seminars and guest lectures, students are immersed in ecclesiology, canon law, Catholic social teaching, intellectual, sacramental and liturgical life and leadership formation. Each student is paired with a mentor, a local leader whose field of expertise most closely aligns with the professional aspirations of the student. Mentors are on hand throughout the year for informal discussion on the role of faith in professional life, in vocational discernment, and in leadership. The most significant aim of ESTEEM, however, is to equip the student participants for meaningful leadership after graduation: by being appointed to a parish pastoral council, a diocesan finance council or the board of trustees of a Catholic nonprofit. ESTEEM’s vision is two young adults in leadership in every parish, diocesan office, and Catholic charity. If young adults see other young adults in meaningful positions of leadership they know that their voice and perspective matter. Young adults serving on boards will learn from older more experienced trustees, offer their own perspective on ways to strengthen mission and attract a new generation.

I am also passionate about elevating and celebrating the role of women in the Church.

This year to mark International Women’s Day, a remarkable celebration of inspiring leaders from across the globe took place in an unlikely setting: the heart of the Vatican.

The fourth annual Voices of Faith event was standing-room only but was live-streamed and therefore available to women and men all over the world. The theme was peace, the format was storytelling and discussion, and the purpose was to demonstrate the crucial and beneficial role women play in leadership and at the tables of decision-making when it comes to peace, or any other meaningful pursuit.

A panel discussion revealed the beneficial impact of including women along with men at the highest levels of leadership across all sectors. Corporations with women on their boards have a better return for shareholders; woman doctors are less likely to be sued for malpractice; universities, the military, the judiciary — all are strengthened by the presence of women in leadership and decision-making positions. And so it is with the crucial, urgent effort of peace-building.

The organizers of Voices of Faith love and respect the church and its mission. Appreciating the church as the largest global humanitarian network in the world, they recognize the enormous potential it has to address human suffering and complex global challenges. Their concern is one of urgency: to strengthen the church’s capacity to excel at its mission. The question at the heart of the matter is: how compromised is the church by failing to include women at the highest levels of leadership and at the tables of decision-making in the Roman Curia and throughout the institutional church? Mission matters. Best practices matter. Every institution in the world has accommodated and incorporated women in leadership — often reluctantly at first — only to admit the practical, tangible value of having done so. As many noted, the church risks being left behind if this isn’t addressed.

As the newly elected Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, SJ, remarked during the Voices of Faith event: “The opposite of clericalism is collaboration, working together as baptized daughters and sons of God … but if we are honest, we acknowledge that the fullness of women’s participation in the church has not yet arrived. That inclusion, which would bring the gifts of resilience and collaboration even more deeply into the church, remains stymied on many fronts.”

Those who care deeply for the church’s vitality and mission must ask: Given that young women know they can achieve the highest levels of leadership in any sector and industry, do they find role models at the highest levels of leadership in the church? Are there examples in the Sunday lectionary where women are the protagonists? Are there visible signs that women are included in decision-making within the church? How welcoming are we as a church to young women and their considerable talents and abilities? And what do we lose if we lose their participation?

Let me end the way I began, with a heart full of gratitude for members of NALM, for lay leaders, for lay pastoral ministers and for religious and ordained leaders who value, support, help form and encourage the vital role of laity in our Church. Thank you for who you are and for all that you do. Thank you for calling us to be more loving, merciful, faith-filled people. As we take leave of one another, a quick checklist of useful maxims that contribute to a life of meaning, purpose and joy:

  • Be grateful.
  • Be aware and pay attention.
  • Serve others by being a beneficial presence in their lives.
  • Never add to another’s burden or take away their joy.
  • Notice and acknowledge even small details that bring you joy.
  • Laugh often and well.
  • Don’t waste one minute of your time being anything other than fully alive.
  • Think big.
  • Be generous.
  • Extend the benefit of the doubt to others.
  • Surround yourself with people who ennoble your spirit.
  • Mentor and encourage young adults.
  • Make sure the Church avails itself of the considerable talents of women, in leadership and in decision-making.
  • Celebrate collaboration and diversity everywhere, all the time. Seek it out with intention.
  • Know your priorities.
  • Remember that people of faith are confident in the future.
  • Begin each day with a little awe and enthusiasm.
  • Resist cynicism.
  • Celebrate what is right in order to find the energy to fix what is wrong.
  • Be the reason for someone’s hope each day.
  • Imagine abundance.
  • And every day, every single day, choose joy.

 

Kerry Alys Robinson, Global Ambassador, Leadership Roundtable