Imagine you are sitting in Mass one morning and the pastor that you’ve come to admire and value tells you and your fellow parishioners that he is leaving ministry because he can’t take the demands of leadership anymore. How would you feel? What would you do? Many of us (myself included) would not only be sad, but probably hurt, perhaps even disillusioned. I might chat in disbelief with our fellow parishioners in the parking lot afterwards. I would pray for him and hope the diocese sent us someone soon who was effective.
It happens. It happened more than a decade ago in a church in Louisiana. Yet, what made that moment different from the others was one man. One parishioner left that Church that morning asking one simple but transformative question, “What can I do to help that man?” Steve didn’t just stop with the question to himself, he started calling around - first locally, then through his business contacts, then all around the country. Because he kept asking, he kept the responsibility with him and he eventually connected with another man who was asking the same question, Tim Flanagan, Catholic Leadership Institute’s founder. Years later, Steve is one of the main reasons Catholic Leadership Institute has been able to serve over 3,000 priests throughout North America (including his hometown). He saw a need, he stepped up, stepped out, and he stayed with it. Last Monday, we lost Steve in a tragic car accident. We mourn with his wife Donna, his children, grandchildren, and so many more whom he loved and touched.