“The gratitude Christians feel for the gift of baptism “links and expands our hearts, and opens them to our neighbor, who is not an adversary but our beloved brother, our beloved sister.”

– Pope Francis

One of the great privileges I have through this work is to encounter local leaders in dioceses and parishes around North America. I get to walk alongside terrific people for a time and accompany them as they lead their community. We share work, but through the work, we also share life and faith. Gratefully, there are more than a few occasions when friendship remains long after the formal work is done. I had the great joy of hosting two of those friends together with a new one this week at my home for dinner. Beyond the perfect early summer weather, my grilling turning out adequately, and the children not being annoying, there was something about the night that was just special.

After my guests left and as I finished the dishes, I was reflecting on what made it so delightful. What I quickly realized was that each of my friends had a genuine desire to know the other as a person, to know their story, to make a connection. Boy, were there connections! I brought them together because of their similar roles, and they also ended up having similar passions, living in similar places, and knowing some of the same people. They all engaged each other with questions, not of credentials or professions, but of personal experience. That is why I like them all so much as individuals and why I respect them as leaders.

I was glad to make the connection that night and I couldn’t help but wonder: How often am I consciously creating the conditions for connections among others? How often do I focus on bringing others together, not only for my sake, but for their benefit? Leadership can be lonely and simply being a person of faith can feel increasingly isolating. How do I, as a leader and as a disciple, help people know they aren’t alone? How am I modeling and strengthening appreciation for the universality of our Church? We know from Scripture that Jesus was intentional about sending his apostles out two by two. We know the Lord doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. He equips us with each other. In life, leadership, and faith, are we being someone else’s “plus one?” As we enjoy our summer with family and friends, let’s consider who we can bring together in order to bring them closer to the Lord.

by Daniel Cellucci

June 23, 2023

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