Mary Ellen Robinson
Chief Operating Officer
This is an exciting time of year for The Christophers as we are in the process of choosing the books, films, and TV programs that we will honor with our 2014 Christopher Awards. It is truly galvanizing to realize how much excellent work is being done in the arts and media. Yes, there are always projects out there that lack merit, but we find it’s much more constructive to highlight endeavors that affirm the highest values of the human spirit, thereby encouraging creative artists to write and produce more life-affirming work.
A life-affirming work that was highlighted on our "Christopher Closeup" radio show recently is the UP network's reality TV show "Bulloch Family Ranch," which features Julie and Rusty Bulloch who have been welcoming troubled teens and young adults into their home for more than 15 years in order to provide them with guidance and a stable family life. Season two of the series just started, so Julie and Rusty came by the studio to discuss it with our host, Tony Rossi. With a group of episodes that shows them helping an unwed pregnant mother, "Bulloch Family Ranch" is providing viewers with a message about the value of human life and the beautiful choice of adoption.
We are also inspired by the number of insightful entries in our 2014 High School Poster Contest. Over 1,000 students throughout our nation have submitted posters that creatively interact with our timeless theme of how one person can make a difference in the world. In April we will announce the first, second, and third prizes, as well as up to five honorable mentions, so please be sure to check back for updates and view the poignant work we plan to highlight.
The Christophers continue to receive encouraging responses to the Christopher materials that we distribute throughout the country. I recently received a letter from Sister Mary Lou Lafferty, OSF, who is the prison ministry coordinator for Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Camden, NJ. She wrote: “A warm and sincere ‘Thank You’ for the box of Christopher materials. I could not believe the size of it, as I entered my office this morning. I can’t say that I like one item more than another. The prayer cards are beautiful and will be so meaningful to our sisters and brothers who are incarcerated. They certainly are ‘the last…the least…the lost’ of our society, but there are so many good people like yourself and The Christophers who reach out to them. The Christopher News Notes have so much to ponder!”
Sister Mary assured us of her prayers and of the prayers of her many volunteers and mentioned that, as a Franciscan, she loves the fact that the Prayer of The Christophers is also the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis. Sister Mary and her volunteers embody the kind of selfless contribution to society that The Christophers seek to foster through our leadership courses, two of which are being held this month – one in Oxford, Michigan, and the other in Mundelein, Illinois. Our leadership weekends are so empowering for those who feel a call to make the world a better place, and we encourage everyone to spread the word about these events so that we can build up the next generation of great leaders.
Pope Francis recently named 19 new cardinals, who we hope will exempify the kind of leadership the world so desperately needs. The pope told the new cardinals that their title "does not signify a promotion, an honor or a decoration; it is simply a form of service that requires expanding your vision and enlarging your heart."
The pope wants a church with greater pastoral outreach to the poor, and the men he chose reflect that desire. In some cases he bypassed leaders of archdioceses that traditionally called for a cardinal at the top, in favor of archbishops from smaller sees known for their concern for the poor and needy.
Let us pray that the new cardinals will use their office well, inspiring all to follow them. May the church of the future be one in which their vision leads us to an era of true service to others.
Mary Ellen Robinson