Catholic business group grants
Encouragement from Archbishop George J. Lucas, honoring two businessmen for their faith-filled leadership and lessons a Swiss Guard learned from St. John Paul II were among highlights of the Catholic Professional & Business Club of Omaha’s Leading with Faith Awards luncheon.
Business leaders can bring values shaped by the Gospel to the workplace, and "the world needs that," Archbishop Lucas told about 180 people gathered at the March 3 luncheon in Omaha, which was co-sponsored by the archdiocese.
"It brings me a lot of encouragement to see you come together," the archbishop said of the business organization.
The business group honored two people with the inaugural Leading with Faith Awards for their service to work, church and the broader community: Charles "Chuck" Olson Sr., a member of St. Patrick Parish in Elkhorn and CEO of family-owned OCI Insurance and Financial Services in Omaha; and Tim Sully, development director for homeless shelter Siena/Francis House and member of St. Cecilia Parish, both in Omaha.
Olson’s nomination credited him with fostering "a workplace that truly values the person" through a "strong, faith-based leadership style." He also serves on his parish’s finance committee and is a Men’s Club member.
Sully was nominated in part for approaching his job and encouraging co-workers to approach theirs as a mission and a ministry. Sully also was noted for helping Siena/Francis House grow in programs and facilities, from a $600,000 budget to more than $3.6 million, while serving the homeless "one-on-one with compassion and care."
Former Swiss Guard Andreas Widmer, the keynote speaker, said he grew up Catholic but was not very involved with the faith when he applied for the Guard. But his faith life changed dramatically while working at the Vatican, helped by the example set by the man he protected, Widmer said.
That process began his first night on duty, guarding the papal chambers on Christmas Eve 1986, missing his family, feeling lost in a strange country and weeping.
The pope noticed Widmer’s red-rimmed eyes, immediately grasped the situation and showed great compassion, saying, "of course, this is your first Christmas away from home, isn’t it? I appreciate the sacrifice you are making. I will pray for you."
The pope also deflected attention away from himself and toward his faith in Christ, at one point telling an openly admiring Widmer, "It’s not who I am that you want, but what I have."
Business leaders are called to do the same – be there for others and direct any compliments to their true source in Christ, said Widmer, now director of entrepreneurship programs at the Catholic University of America.
And business is a holy and noble profession, a gift from God as people work together to create products that can help others, Widmer said.