Remembering a Bishop & Friend to CLI

Emboldened by Our Clergy


Think about a priest who has been inspirational in your life. Whether it be through prayers, an inspiring homily, support for you and your loved ones, parish ministry, or performing sacraments for your family.

Our clergy give us strength, direction, and faith. We love them.

That love for our clergy has been an ever-present joy and motivation throughout Catholic Leadership Institute’s 31-year history.

While we have a deep love for emboldening our clergy… they embolden us as well. They inspire us, they give us an example of Christ on Earth, and they challenge us in the best way.

In September, the passing of Bishop Robert Patrick Maginnis, retired Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia, reminded me of how he emboldened our mission in the beginning days of CLI.

READ BELOW about how Bishop Maginnis’ spiritual direction set Catholic Leadership Institute off in the right direction.


Write Down the Vision

Two weeks ago at Mass, I listened to the words of the first reading:

“Then the LORD answered me and said:
Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets…“

I found myself thinking about that vision for Catholic Leadership Institute that started over three decades ago.

That vision is a two-way street, especially when it comes to supporting our priestly shepherds.

When I first had the vision for Catholic Leadership Institute, I met with so many people and looked for the guidance and advice of many wonderful clergy.

Bishop Maginnis was one of those special advisors.


Spiritual Advisor & Advocate

In our early days of starting CLI, I worked from St. Coleman Parish in Ardmore (in the same classroom and even same desk I used in grade school)! I worked alongside my CLI co-founder, Fr. Chuck Pfeffer. Bishop Maginnis was a father figure to Fr. Chuck; he was also a fatherly figure to CLI.

Bishop Maginnis – not yet a Bishop at the time – was in residence at St. Coleman, and he began to provide us with support. We relied on him a lot as we continued to develop CLI, encountered obstacles, and dreamed about how we could be most effective in supporting our Church. He helped us figure out these ideas and challenges. It was tremendously helpful to have him as an ambassador and prominent leader in the Church who believed in us. When priests knew he was involved, they trusted us and were willing to partner with us.

Eventually, he became both the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the official Spiritual Advisor to Catholic Leadership Institute.

Bishop Maginnis was a wonderful priest, a gifted leader, and very instrumental in guiding CLI through our evolution, particularly in the critical phases of the early days.

A Vision of 31 Years Endures & Emboldens

Today, Catholic Leadership Institute has three aims: ignite the parish, embolden the clergy, and forge the future.

In those first days, the idea of emboldening the clergy was so present in our hearts – Bishop Maginnis listened to our ideas and was a huge support. He pulled us along and walked with us at the same time.

He was charismatic, engaging, and open. He was deeply prayerful in making decisions and so phenomenal about bringing people together around collaboration and around Christ.

The first reading from two Sundays ago talked about writing down your vision, being persistent, waiting, and trusting that God will see it through. Bishop helped us do all of that.

When I think about what Bishop Maginnis might have said today about that vision we were writing down 30+ years ago, I imagine he might say: “What you saw as a future has come to pass. We have a lot to be grateful for to God and to all the people who made it possible.”

Thank you to Bishop Maginnis and to all those clergy who embolden us. Thank you to all of you who keep Catholic Leadership Institute going and growing in the direction Bishop Maginnis helped us navigate towards in those early days!

by Tim Flanagan

October 12, 2022

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