Monday, July 16, 2012

One year in, and Father John is just getting started!

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One year ago (almost to the day - July 15, 2011!) Father John Enzler joined the Catholic Charities family as our President and CEO. And our executive team will tell you he's been like a force of nature ever since, running to meetings, receptions, program visits, his pastoral duties, and even early-morning tennis sessions. 
Pinning him down for a commemorative one-year anniversary interview was tough, but Father John was thrilled to share his thoughts on his first year at the helm, and his vision for Catholic Charities' service to those who are most in need in the future. We think you'll be inspired!
Q:  First of all, how do you do it? You seem to accomplish more in a day than many people do in a week. Where do you get your energy and drive?
A:  I try to follow St. Augustine’s advice to, “pray as if everything depended on God, and work as if everything depended on you.” God, quite literally, gives me the strength to face the challenges of each day. And I try to do my part to stay fit: I play tennis, romp with my dog, Ivy, pray frequently, and spend time with my family. They’re a source of strength for me.
Q:  What would you say has made the biggest impression on you since you came to Catholic Charities last year?
A:  You know, when I came here last July, I remember writing that I felt humbled to carry on the work of the Gospel with the wonderful people here. I had no idea then, what an understatement that was! Today, I feel more amazed and honored than ever to be a part of this mission. The work being done here is life-changing.

Look at our Parish Partners Program, as just one example. We work with parishes throughout the Archdiocese to help people who are hurting, are hungry, or homeless, or need medical help. Parish Partners tries to put them in contact with all the different resources they need. And we are there for them for the long haul—until they have truly become self-sufficient.

But let me be clear: the people who really make the difference here are the donors. Without their generous gifts, there would be no programs. Period.

When they give through the mail, or online, or make a monthly gift as a member of our
Living Faith Society, they help make our programs possible, along with the staff members who are in the trenches every day, saving lives, helping people find hope and peace, and connecting them with the message of the Gospel. They are the most important people in our entire circle of caring.
Q:  Can you think of any success stories that stand out in your mind?
A:  There are success stories every day at Catholic Charities that would make you break down and cry. I remember, not long after I got here, I shared a story about a woman named Sarah who, with her two kids, had been driven from their home by an abusive husband. She found her way to our Angel's Watch Shelter where she found safety, counseling, and job training. With the staff’s help, her life was turned completely around.

I like to share stories like these, not because they are so unusual, but because they are so
usual. These are the kinds of life-changing experiences that suffering people experience every day through our programs.

That’s what I want donors to understand. This is what their gifts do. They literally save families and innocent children who, without their help, would be on the street, lost and alone. We are so thankful for each and every one of them.
Q:  So what’s next? Where do you see Catholic Charities heading in the next
few years?
A:  My vision is simple: We have to be in the business of saying, “Yes!” Yes to the poor and homeless. Yes to those that Jesus called, “the poor in spirit.” Right now we are working every day in the District, and in Montgomery, Prince George’s, Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s counties in Maryland.

Yet, even as we work for those in our current programs, we need to grow, to meet the other needs around us as well. I’m completely optimistic about this. We have an incredibly caring staff.

Most important, we have generous, deeply caring supporters who understand the holiness of our work and our mission. They make it happen. And I know that, whatever comes, we can count on them to be the cornerstone of all the work
we do.
More Catholic Charities!
Leave Father John a one-year anniversary note on our Facebook - or tweet him @FrJohnEnzler ! 
Curious about the programs Father John mentioned? Learn more about Angel's Watch Shelter and Parish Partners.