What does it really mean to be a Catholic professional?
On a recent Tuesday, Richard Kelly, Principal at LumaCorp, Inc., addressed a group of 240 young professionals gathered at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin Guadalupe in Dallas. His topic: “What it really means to be a Catholic professional.”
Rich briefly shared his own reversion to Catholicism, which occurred at the age of 35, when he realized, “I had a twelfth grade understanding of the Faith. And that just was not appropriate for a mature adult man.” His deeper study of the Faith led him to the conclusion that he was on Earth to build up the Kingdom, and that all his activities should lead towards that end—including his professional life. Following are Rich’s insights into how to live our Faith as Catholic professionals:
- “Think like an entrepreneur—not like an employee.” Entrepreneurs look at the world around them and see needs. They’re driven to work hard because they have a desire to meet those needs, not because they’re trying to make a paycheck. Most of us don’t work to satisfy basic needs—like food and clothing—but we all provide a service to our clients that, in some way, helps better their lives. Focus on that. Serve those around you. “That’s not just good Christian values,” said Rich, “That’s good business.”
- “Gain control of company capital.” Rich fielded several questions from young professionals wondering how to react when supervisors or upper management teach immoral practices. Rich’s response was ambitious but practical—become the upper management. Working towards leadership control of an organization allows you to influence the company’s long-term strategy and values and eventually bring them in line with a strong moral compass.
- “You can get a new job. You can’t get a new conscience.” In reference to the same question—how to deal with unethical company values—Rich acknowledged that sometimes, the only appropriate response is to leave your place of employment. It’s not the most attractive option, but as Rich pointed out: this life is temporary; your salvation is forever.
- “Find a good confessor or a good Catholic business person.” The moral landscape is not always black and white. Don’t try and face difficult decisions on your own steam. Develop a relationship with a priest or a strong Catholic mentor, and don’t be afraid to bounce questions off of them—professional or spiritual.
- “Continue your theological education. Don’t have the same understanding of your Faith you did when you were 17.” At 44, Rich Kelly went back to school to earn his Master’s of Theology at the University of Dallas. As many speakers before him have reminded us, our Faith is very rich. If we take the time to seek the Truth and the way to live out a Faith-filled career—we will surely find them.
Before the evening’s address, the group at the Cathedral Guadalupe meditated briefly on Luke 12:48: “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much.” As Catholic professionals, we are called to put the valuable lessons of mentors like Rich Kelly into tangible action. We must choose to think like entrepreneurs—not employees—and to recommit ourselves daily to “Working in Witness for Christ.”
Teresa Amador Gallagher is a Management Associate for Young Catholic Professionals, a 501(c)(3) which encourages young adults working in various professions to “Work in Witness for Christ.” Learn how to bring YCP to your city at www.youngcatholicprofessionals.org.
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