What’s your background?
I’m home-grown, from Louisville. I went into the seminary at an early age, here in Louisville at St. Thomas Seminary (where the Woods of St. Thomas are now). After that, I attended St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore and became a Roman Catholic priest in 1974. I served in four parishes for 15 years for the Archdiocese of Louisville.
In 1990, I married the love of my life, Kathy, and started working for Hosparus Health, then called Hospice of Louisville, first as a chaplain to children and adults and then as the chief fundraiser. I also started writing articles for publications like Today’s Woman, Today’s Transitions and the Oldham Era. I also have written three books and do motivational speaking.
Six years ago, I became a Catholic priest again through a group called The United Catholic Church and have a house church every Sunday at my home.
What have you learned from life?
I have learned to be thankful for everything that life brings. I have learned to have an attitude of gratitude. I spend at least a half hour every day thanking donors over the phone who give to Hosparus Health. When I do this, it makes me more thankful. It is so important to always be grateful.
What’s your philosophy?
- Keep your attention on today, and stay in the present moment.
- Real love is accepting other people the way they are without trying to change them.
- Whatever people do, feel, think or say, don’t take it personally. Others are going to have their own opinion according to their belief system, so whatever they think about you is not about you, but it is about them.
- Simply do your best every day, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A wise spiritual director told me years ago, “You can’t shut other people’s mouths.” It took me years to understand that. He knew we don’t have any control over other people’s minds. You can only control your own mind.
How has life surprised you?
Every transition in life brings new rewards. I have been a Roman Catholic priest, I have worked with death and dying, I have been a fundraiser for great causes, I have been a writer and a motivational speaker. I do the things that most people fear the most: public speaking, fundraising and working with death and dying. All have made me look at the spiritual slice of life. All have forced me to learn that life is about constant change and that all things come to pass.
What is a skill every man should have?
The ability to feel and express emotion. I was raised to not show my feelings. The older I get, the more I feel. Hospice work has taught me to express the range of emotions from sad to mad to glad and everything in between.
What lesson have you learned along the way?
Every so often, I need to stop and fill up my tank. I am the ultimate extrovert. I need to meditate, have quiet time, take time for myself and refuel to operate at full strength. I need to stop and fill my mind with positive thoughts that lead to courage and calmness and joy. A wise pastor told me years ago to sleep on it before making any major decision. He was so right.
What are you most treasured possessions?
My wife and I have learned to purge ourselves of possessions the older we get to avoid unnecessary attachments. My possessions are my wife, my friends, my co-workers and my dogs. I also treasure my home and love taking care of our yard.
What was your “aha” moment?
My life is very hectic. When someone pushes me hard to do something, sometimes I have to say, “I just can’t.” And if they really push me hard, I have to say, “I just really can’t.” It was an “aha” moment when I learned to say, “No.”
What are some of your significant influences?
I love people and draw my energy from people. My wife, Kathy, is my number one support system. After that, it’s everyone I meet every day. When you work at a hospice organization like Hosparus Health, you are drawn to the depth of discussions about life and death and everything in between. A strong faith life keeps it all together for me.
Please offer some parting words.
Life is about constant change and excitement. I’ve learned that all things comes to pass. We live and we die; we give and we receive. All things come to pass.