In my now many years of ministry one of the joys I have had is being able to meet a lot of really wonderful people. Some of these people are prayerful and contemplative, like my buddy Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP. Others are silly and fun, like Fr. Brett Hoover, CSP. Some are energizing like Becky Eldredge.
And then there’s Kerry Robinson who is simply one of the classiest people I have ever met.
Kerry is the head of the Leadership Roundtable on Church Management and is an expert fundraiser. She’s in the Raskob family, longtime Catholic philanthropists who had a vision of the laity handling more of the temporal affairs of the church. Kerry’s family was way ahead of their time. That future is now and Kerry is left holding up the family mantle with the rest of her family, pushing the rest of us to realize our own gifts and talents and how they can be used for the benefit of the church. She does it creatively and with a ton of class, meeting with tons of high powered executives and humble ministry types like myself and my colleagues.
Today, Kerry posted a wonderful reflection on her “yes” to Fr. Bob Beloin, Yale’s Catholic Chaplain. when he asked her to work with him on raising money to build Yale’s Catholic Center some years ago. Here’s just a snip:
I hated the thought of the proposition but civility and manners prevented me from cutting him off in mid-sentence. He entreated me to pray about it for five days and said that whatever I concluded in prayer, he would accept and honor. I readily agreed, convinced that after prayerful reflection my “No” would be uncommonly articulate.
Imagine, then, my astonishment the following Tuesday evening when I called him and told him I would accept the invitation.
At which point the goal doubled to $10 million.
Three months into our work together, fueled by a passionate commitment to bring a Catholic intellectual and spiritual center of consequence to fruition, overwhelmed by the magnitude of work our aspirations would entail, sleep-deprived with a newborn at my constant ready, the chaplain-my prime collaborator-gave me a present. It was an elegant plaque that said, simply, IT CAN BE DONE.
I was moved by this because when I first met Kerry, I was at a conference where she was speaking to a group of people about fundraising. She said something astounding:
“Fundraising is ministry.”
Have you ever been sort of half paying attention and then hear something that nearly knocked you off your chair? Well, color me that. I nearly yelled, “Say what, now?”
“Fundraising,” Kerry continued, “is ministry simply because we’re excited about what it is that we do for the church, where we’re called by God to be. And we want others to be just as excited about what that is. And we want people to be partners with us in that ministry. For some, the best way that they can enter that partnership in ministry is to give us money.”
I stopped being afraid to ask people for money at that moment. It can be done. And then, I had to meet this woman. And she was so classy. Surprisingly, she told me gracefully that she was a fan of Busted Halo and we hit it off right away. We invited her to be on our board and I always loved the challenges put before us by her.
Mostly though, I’m proud to call her a friend. Kerry’s been a good person to lean on and has always had time for people. She’s a great mom and someone who hopes for the best for the future—not merely for the Catholic Church but for all the people of God.
Thanks Kerry, for always being a class act.