My brother in law Tony helping the poor

Sunday, September 26, 2010

People of Honor

The title itself implies something old fashioned, don't you think?  Honor?  Isn't that a word generally associated with people on the front lines in armed services?  Yes, but isn't that is really too bad?  Why can't regular people be considered people of Honor?  What does it take for someone to have honor?

Even though I like to read and write, the material I generally choose to read is something most of you would never pick up.  I have never been able to read fiction books because I could never wrap my head around the twists and turns of a mystery novel, or empathize with any of the characters in a romance novel.  I think it is just the way I am wired.  I can't watch chick-flicks or love stories, or sci-fi either.  I guess you could say that I am a realist, a black and white kinda gal.  That's why I have never admired fictional characters or heroes on screen.  My heroes are real, they are those people I can relate to and try to emulate.

Who are my heroes?  My heroes are every day people, like my dad.  He was a hero to me because he was a real father to his eight kids.  He was completely selfless and honorable.  My dad worked long hours in a factory for 44 years, and on the side he obtained his real estate license to make "extra" money.  He never bought himself ANYTHING.  Every penny he made went to pay our bills, put food on the table, and send us to Catholic school....which was a huge sacrifice for a guy with my dad's meager wage.  He fought in WWII and he never complained about losing his favorite brother in that war in order to help his country.  He was tough as nails, selfless, and a man of great honor.

Other heroes I admire are people like Mother Theresa, Pope John Paul II, and Ghandi.  These people were remarkable examples of how to live.  They over came incredible obstacles.  They had to constantly work on themselves and to be faithful in many hopeless situations.  Mother Therese taught in India for years, completely forgetting that she had a call to serve the hopeless and neglected until her own Mother reminded her.  She gave up her comfortable life of teaching to go out into the streets and look at the most vile of circumstances.  She was brave and forthright, she was a woman of honor.  St. John Vianney was a very inadequate priest, he was not smart or handsome or charismatic.  His own fellow priests put him down and made fun of him all the time, but he persevered and went from being very small to being the patron saint of priests!  He was a man of honor.  St. Monica and St. Rita was both mothers of very bad boys.  They prayed day and night for their sons to be men of honor some day...and they were.  Their constant prayers for their children and families went completely unnoticed by their children, but they quietly prayed anyhow.  Their faith and love for their children saved their soles and showed mothers everywhere that their prayers for their own children do not go unnoticed by God.  They are role models to parents and women of honor.

Look at your own families for a minute, do you see any men or women of honor?  If so, tell them how proud you are of them, thank them for being honorable people and good examples to others.  If you do not see men, women, or children of honor around you, encourage them so that they may feel the pride that can come from acting honorably.  Remind them that they are children of God and capable of being all God wants them to be. I miss my dad because he was truly one of the last great heroes of honor.  I would like to see more men and women of honor but I am not sure that that word has such an appeal to people anymore.  Honor is not a badge you wear on your sleeve, it is an indelible mark of courage and sacrifice that is manifested in the heart and lived out in your everyday life.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Get Inspired

Several months ago I lost my job working for one of the largest Catholic churches in Cleveland.  It was an unfortunate circumstance.  The parish is one of the largest but it was also one of the most remedial as far as technology and advanced communications.  I worked there for 2 years and in that time I did a lot to bring them into the 21st century but at the end of the day, I was an expense and cost too much money.  The unfortunate thing was I really didn't need the money.  I would have worked for 30% less but they never asked.  I think that was very short-sighted on their part.

Anyway, after I left I had the opportunity to interview at other Catholic parishes for similar jobs, and other Catholic non-profit organizations who were searching for qualified development directors.  In almost all of the  jobs that I interviewed for I was by far one of the best candidates, but in the end something just didn't seem to "fit."  In one case, I was told that the most important part of the job was to be able to run a multi-million dollar capital campaign.  Although I had never run one myself exclusively, I was sure I would be able to solicit outside resources to help them reach their goals.  I had several interviews with several different people from that parish and in the end I just could not see me working there.  First, our Bishop is instituting his own capital campaign for our diocese next year and he is not going to be approving any parish campaigns over the next few years.  That being said, this parish was still adamant about hiring someone to do just that.

A few weeks later I looked to see who they finally hired; who they thought had the the qualifications they required to run this campaign that I just didn't have.  As it turned out, they hired a young woman who had just graduated college two years ago with absolutely no experience!  I was shocked!  I started to think, "why would the do that?"  In the end, the only answer I could "honestly" come up with was, they must not be paying her very much.  Capital campaigns are huge, and in this economy, almost impossible!  But I wish them luck.

In the end, I realized how silly this all was because about 6 years ago I started my own business called Catholic Marketing Services.  I did fairly well at the job but my family situation required that I work a job with health benefits, so I put it on the back burner and proceeded to go to work for a church as their development director.  After my interviewing experiences in this tough job market, I decided it was time to resurrect my business.  Why you may ask, since I still won't have any health benefits? The answer is simple, I can't help noticing what a great need there is for good, qualified, experienced marketing/development people in the Catholic church.  It shouldn't be a job that is only accessible to the rich and large parishes, it should be available to everyone!

Therefore, Catholic Marketing Services has now been reintroduced.  We offer affordable marketing solutions for any Catholic parish or institution; from parish communication assessments to event planning, CMS can provide everyone with what they need, when they need it.  There is no long-term commitment on behalf of the parish, no employee to hire full-time, no benefits to pay for said employee, and no need to go without the help that you so desperately deserve.  You only pay for what you need, when you need it.  It is essentially, a development director at your finger tips.

Now every parish can benefit from the expertise of a great development director, and this all came to be because of divine inspiration.  God wants to see His church succeed.  He is providing for everyone and treating everyone the same.  God inspired me to live out the call He put on my heart 6 years ago, and I intend to do just that.  My family and I feel at peace with our decision.  I can not be afraid to work for God just because we need health benefits.  I have to trust that God will provide for me and my family just as He always has done.

I am happy, content, and excited all at the same time.  I am here to severe God by serving YOU!  Thank you God for my inspiration.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Entitlement, an American Work Ethic

I really felt this topic was deserving a blog, especially since we are in the month that celebrates "Labor Day."  I also feel that our work ethic is not talked about enough, sort of taken for granted.  Now I can't speak for all of you out there, I can only speak for myself and my own experiences, but have you noticed something different about our culture?

My father worked at US Steel Wire Spring for as long as I have been alive (44 years).  He died 10 years ago but before he died he worked for the same company for over 40 years.  The plant he worked in I'm sure was dusty, dirty, noisy, etc.  I don't really know first hand because my dad never let the girls come to where he worked, including my mother, but the boys in my family used to go.  My brothers started their work careers sweeping the floors in my father's plant.  Eventually they moved up to a few other menial tasks and then they eventually went on to work somewhere else.  That experience for my brothers had to be difficult, seeing their father slaving away all day in a dirty place like that....I'm sure it was the driving force behind their decisions to work hard and have "good" jobs.

Today, our kids see their parents (both of them) working in nice air conditioned offices with windows and a view, and they think, "that's gonna be me someday."  My generation came from a place where we saw how hard our parents worked, not just dedicated to their work, but actually doing hard, physical labor day in and day out. Because we cringed to see our parents working so hard we vowed to never live like that ourselves.  My mother was a beautician on her feet all afternoon after she worked all day in the kitchen of our high school on her feet.  I know that that single witness scared me enough to say, "I'm going to college!"  My parents could not afford to send any of their kids to college so I had to figure out how to pay for it MYSELF!  That's right, myself, with absolutely no help from mom and dad!

Today, our kids feel they are entitled to a first-rate education courtesy of mom and dad.  Period.  They think it is their right!  Parents who do this for their kids get a rush themselves.  They feel good about themselves because they are letting others see that they are good providers for their kids, that they are earning a great wage, and that they are making a "sacrifice" for their children.  To that I say, my mom and dad made the sacrifice.  True, they did not give me a penny towards my college education, but they did give me an incredible work ethic.  That is something I am so grateful to have received.  That's not to say that every job has appreciated my hard work and dedication, all but one job has though. Oddly enough, Catholic Church I worked for did not seem to appreciate my gifts as much as my other employers had. That was quite a shock to me!  I guess the Church isn't used to working with someone with my "go-getter" personality, but I am digressing.

The point is, I learned to appreciate my parent's hard work and sacrifices but I also learned that it was what they DIDN'T give me that made me who I am today.  I hope to return the favor to my kids.  My husband and I agree on the following: at 16 they must  have a job or they can not have a car or drive.  They must understand that we will help them pay for their tuition at a local state college but we are not required to pay for their "room and board" experience parents think kids need.  If they want to live on campus...they have to pay for it.  My kids have saved their Communion money, birthday money, and Christmas money, ever since they were born and they have over $10,000 in the bank!    Although they did not appreciate me taking their gifts and putting them into a savings account, they would have rather spent the money on something useless, they certainly appreciate it now when I say "if you want to buy a used can!"  I'm not saying we shouldn't help our kids.  My husband is giving my oldest son his old car, but Nick must have a job to pay for gas, maintenance, and insurance.  There is a fine line between helping our kids and enabling them.

This is beginning to look like a culture of spoiled brats rather than kids who are motived to work hard because they are scared to end up like their parents....working their fingers to the bone.  A nice balance is needed here.  Let's start developing some character in our kids, some work ethic, some responsibility.  Come on people!  Don't be so scared of disappointing your children.  Instead, teach them the things they need to be full-functioning, independent young adults.  Giving them a full-ride to the college of their choice, no responsibility or accountability, and free trips around the world is not doing them any favors (in my opinion) because it is enabling our children.

Let's celebrate Labor Day with a labor of love, acts of charity and responsibility to those who are truly in need.    Trust me, you'll feel much better in the end!