“When was the last time you were doing something you loved so much that you lost track of time?” asks Andreas Widmer in his 2011 book, The Pope and the CEO. Widmer makes the case that the success of a start-up comes not from just developing a niche but also doing what you love. While this approach may not seem particularly unique, his mentor certainly was. Widmer took the lessons he learned from Saint John Paul II during his years as a Swiss Guard and applied them to become a successful entrepreneur.
Another pope teaches us a similar lesson through the example of St. Dominic (who famously “lost track of time” while preaching all night to an innkeeper who had fallen away from the Catholic faith).
“He did not view [his position] as a personal privilege or as the beginning of a brilliant ecclesiastical career but, rather, as a service to carry out with dedication and humility,” Emeritus Pope Benedict reminds us. He then asks, “Are not a career and power temptations from which not even those who have a role of guidance and governance in the Church are exempt?” St. Dominic was driven by the enormous challenges for the Church of his time. As a fisher of men he sought not simply to fill niches but to mend the Church’s net so souls would not slip through and be lost.
In a recent article in The Catholic Thing, Dr. Robert Royal, “half-joking,” claimed the sons of St. Dominic are the Catholic spiritual and intellectual entrepreneurs of our own day, setting up over 45 student- led Thomistic Institute chapters on college campuses across the country that run programs on philosophy, theology, and the arts. Royal recalls, “I met student leaders of chapters at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Yale, the University of Texas, Brown, Trinity College, Columbia, the University of Utah, Toronto, Oxford, to name just a few.” Royal continues, “The Dominicans have been drawing numerous vocations from such institutions for some time now and, as befits the Order of Preachers, are quite able to operate at as high an intellectual level as any institution you can name.”
It is because of your generosity that we Dominicans can “lose track of time” doing what we love, namely contemplating the Truth, not only in theology, but in every domain of reason, from the material sciences to philosophy. This Truth is our service to the Church, which we share through preaching and teaching with young adults in parishes, with the FOCUS missionaries we mentor as chaplains, through Catholic publications like Magnificat, and even at times through the secular media, all of which you will read about in this issue.
Thank you for being an essential part of the ever necessary work of contemplating and sharing the Truth anew.
Fr. Gabriel Gillen, O.P.
Dominican Friars Foundation