Two Catholic leaders among nation’s top nonprofit executives

Father Larry Snyder, president and chief executive officer of Catholic Charities USA, and Franciscan Sister Georgette Lehmuth, president and chief executive officer of the National Catholic Development Conference, have been named to a list of the country’s most influential nonprofit executives.

The NonProfit Times’ 12th annual Power and Influence Top 50 selected the two for “the impact the have now and for the innovative plans they are putting in place to evolve the charitable sector.”

The newspaper cited Catholic Charities USA’s work to cut poverty in half by 2020 and its strong collaboration with the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Vatican’s office for promoting and coordinating charity. 

Sister Georgette’s work to facilitate conversations between a corporation in bankruptcy and conference member clients to find alternatives that saved numerous programs from closing. Her work to promote educational collaboration between conference members and other organizations also drew the newspaper’s attention.

Also making the list were Israel Gaither, national commander, Salvation Army; Brian Gallagher, president and chief executive officer, United Way of America; A. Barry Rand, chief executive officer, AARP; Bill Gates, co-founder, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and John Seffrin, chief executive officer, American Cancer Society.

Year for Priests: No longer on the front lines

By Basilian Father Chris Valka
One in a series

One of my favorite “one-liners” comes from Precious Blood Father Anthony Gittons, who wrote, “We cannot transform ourselves, but we can create the space for transformation to occur.”  Over the years, I have applied this to my life on an almost daily basis, but recently I have begun to understand it in the context of those to whom I minister — or my “audience.”

One of the very quick lessons I have learned is that, as a priest, I am no longer on “the front lines.”  As I walk around campus and around town, I am very aware that I am set apart, not because of my own actions or preference, but because that is what people need (despite the objection of some, by far I have found the majority of people want their priest to be different — to represent an alternative way of life).  The collar I now wear around my neck is a sign and at times a barrier that does not allow me to be as close to people as was once possible.  However, I do not see this as a negative; rather, it has caused me to shift the audience of my ministry.

If the ministry of the priest is modeled on Christ, then it seems my primary ministry is to those ministers who are close to me, for it is they who will go out to live and work on the front lines long after I have moved on.  Though I continue to speak to the “masses” on certain occasions, I have realized — at least for the moment — that my job is to be a minister to the ministers.  After all, this seems to speak to the spirit of Vatican II that emphasizes the role of the laity as those who bring the Gospel into the world around us (see Gaudium et Spes or Apostolicam Actuositatem).

At its very core, I am discovering that ministry is relational and reciprocal.  The ministers with whom I work every day know me as Chris, with all of my gifts, weaknesses and quirks.  They are close enough to see the finesse and the nuance — things many people in the Sunday congregation do not want and are not ready to learn.  Likewise, my priesthood is shaped by them.  So much of what I do in ministry seems to concern creating safe environments for people to encounter each other and touch the Divine.  In the context of ministry, I think this is what Father Gittons meant:  “to create the space for transformation to occur.”

I should add, by the way, that these are working thoughts.  Should you have any thoughts on who the audience of a priest is, I would love to hear them!

Father Chris Valka, CSB, was ordained a priest for the Congregation of St. Basil in May and will be teaching at Detroit Catholic Central High School in Michigan beginning in late summer.

Click here for more in this series.

First Catholic-run pregnancy support center opens in Denver

“Being pro-life, it’s so important that we don’t just ‘talk the talk,'” said Annette Davis, a volunteer with the Gabriel Project, a pro-life outreach in the Denver Archdiocese. “We need to be there to support the courageous women who are choosing life.”

After eight years of ministry, the Gabriel Project will move into its own building, and hopes to triple the number of women it serves.  The Denver Catholic Register recently wrote about the new building and the program’s new expectations. It will be the first Catholic pregnancy support center in the archdiocese.