People You Meet Along the Way

Bob Pape, CNEWA’s Director of Major Gifts, shares his view on how important every person you meet can be to your journey in faith.

When I began my work at CNEWA, I didn’t fully appreciate the impact the work would have on my faith journey. True, when discussing fundraising for CNEWA with our benefactors, I am constantly reminded of the words of Matthew: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). Our benefactors understand this passage and live it and witness it in their lives. Participating in these discussions has inspired me greatly when I speak on behalf of CNEWA, but it has also strengthened me in my work, which I have come to think of in terms of a vocation. Certainly, it has been a surprisingly big step for me in my journey.

The people you meet along the way all have an impact on your faith journey. The impact may be big or small or barely noticeable at first, but if you allow yourself to be guided by the Holy Spirit as you travel along your own course, everything becomes clearer. Take, for example, my meeting with a woman named Dorothy, whom I met in Kentucky. She has been supporting CNEWA for over 40 years! Despite all I know about the great work of CNEWA, our people, our programs and all the good that comes from the hardworking people in our regions, I had to ask her, “Why do you do it?”

Dorothy told me quite simply that her actions are at the center of our faith: helping those in need. Simple, yet powerful.

Then there’s Michael. He’s a young man from Scranton I met recently. He is finishing up his college degree and taking care of his elderly parents. He has been supporting CNEWA for over 10 years. Again, I asked: “Why?” Michael said with true conviction that he was simply redirecting God’s grace – a profound statement from this remarkable young man. Once again, God had given me inspiration for my journey through someone I met along the way.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston when he came to visit our offices. An inspiring man of faith, yet such a humble man – despite being a “prince of the church,” he has not lost sight of his Capuchin roots. Cardinal O’Malley was most welcoming and encouraging. Quite a guy to meet along the journey.

Last month, I met with the pre-school and pre-K classes at St. Peter of Alcantara School in my hometown of Port Washington, NY. It was Fire Prevention Week and I was asked to speak to the children in my role as a member of the Port Washington Fire Department. I had my bunker pants on as I read a story about fire trucks and then spoke to them about basic fire safety. Then I answered their questions, which covered a variety of topics (as you would expect from small children). I enjoyed it thoroughly. All during my visit to St. Peter’s I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit with me. I saw the joy in the children’s faces, the dedication of their teachers, all presented in a positive and caring environment. I was reminded of Jesus’s remark, “whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” (Mark 10:15) Imagine me, thinking of scripture! These children, too, help me on my faith journey.

Also not to be forgotten is the fellow who stands outside the subway stop by the office every morning, handing out the local free newspaper – always a smile on his face and a “Good morning” to all. He always adds a positive start to my day. On Friday mornings, he says to me, “Have a blessed weekend.”

My journey of faith continues in my work here at CNEWA. I realize now this is more than a job. God has put me here for a purpose and has placed people for me to meet along the way – people who will strengthen my spirit and inspire me to do my best, no matter where my journey takes me.

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