“Humility saves man: pride makes him lose his way.”
– Pope Francis
Like so many across the country, I was so sad to learn of the tragic murder of Los Angeles’ auxiliary bishop, +David O’Connell. Many years ago, the then-Monsignor Dave was one of the first priests to participate in our leadership training and has since been a friend to Catholic Leadership Institute and so many important ministries and people across the Church. He was an authentic pastor, a man of great faith, and leader who often put himself in places where no one else would want to go, but where the love of Christ was needed the most. My colleague Barbara, who worked closely with him in those first years, captured my experience so well and her words keep ringing in my head: “He was easy to miss, and impossible to ignore; always attentive and never attention-seeking.”
Reading post after post on social media that only affirmed Barb’s sentiment, I reflected on what a beautiful and rare balance Bishop Dave struck in ministry and how much the Church will miss that witness. I also couldn’t help but think about how much work I must do on myself to even get close to that example. As one who may or may not “suck out all the oxygen” in the room at times, what would it look like to be a leader who doesn’t seek “to own the room,” but whose simplicity, whose humility, whose other-focused attentiveness draws so many more in, and more importantly, draws them to the Lord? What does it require to have a presence that is so defined by being present?
As we enter deeper into this Lenten Season, how do we come to see ourselves not merely in relationship with others but also, like Bishop Dave, serving as a bridge to their relationship with the Lord? I am reminded of the Gospel of Luke from this past week, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
May God grant Bishop Dave eternal rest, in thanksgiving for a life that might have been easy to miss, but impossible to ignore.
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