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Looking for partners

Posted on November 20, 2016 in: Articles

By Owen Phelps, Ph.D.

Director, Yeshua Institute

This week we formally launch our annual Yeshua Institute fund-raising drive.

We need donors. But what we need even more than donors are partners – people who will pray for us and our work, who will tell others about it, who will tell us who we should be reaching out to, and who will help underwrite our costs when people can’t afford our services.

I hate asking for money. But it’s the only way we can afford to do the work we are doing – and we love doing that work.

It has been our privilege to serve priests, seminarians, permanent deacons, women religious, chancery and parish staffs, Catholic Charities’ leadership teams and staffs, Catholic communicators, Catholic healthcare leaders and staffs, ministry formation students, lay business and professional leaders, high school and junior high students, and general parish members.

Usually they can provide the resources to cover our expenses. But not always. And when they can’t, I hate to tell them we can’t serve them. Thanks to people like you, I haven’t had to say that. We’ve been able to go where we are wanted without regard to our hosts’ resources.

As I indicated, we need other things besides money. Referrals are critical. But most of all we need prayers. And I love asking for prayers.

I know God blesses our work. But I think He likes to bless the petitions of those who pray for us too. So we appreciate your prayers – and hope you can spare more of them. I’m sure God loves hearing from you at least as much as He loves hearing from us.

The Yeshua Institute’s history is nothing else if not a collection of miracles. Most of them could not have been obtained with all the money in the world. So we explain them by reference to God’s boundless graces and the prayers of our patrons. Thank you.

Of course, some of those miracles did involve money – donations from you and others like you who want to see our work continue and our impact on the church grow globally.

In the next year we have a few bold initiatives planned. Among them are releasing a Spanish version of our Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus Encounter, developing a youth Encounter program, and preparing materials to help priests who are leading their first parishes do it as Jesus-like S3 Leaders.

All of these things will require prayers, grace and material resources to get them off the ground.

Not long ago Father David Beauvais, a retired priest of the Rockford Diocese and a member of the Yeshua Institute’s Board of Directors, sent a letter to other retired priests around the country. In it he said:

From the first day I became familiar with the Institute’s wonderful work, I have supported and promoted it. Starting from just a tiny seed planted in the unique life experiences of faithful lay Catholic leaders, the Institute has grown to impact laity, priests, permanent deacons and vowed religious all across the U.S. and in five foreign countries on three continents.

We are certainly not the only organization or ministry trying to develop more effective leaders among the Church’s leaders and members. But I do think our contribution is unique – and uniquely valuable. We have developed a program that is Biblically-based, flexible, comprehensive and inexpensive.

Wherever we have gone, audiences have praised our presentations and thanked us for helping them integrate their faith and their lives. (It has been a special joy and privilege to present our programs to the Little Sisters of the Poor in five of their facilities in the past several months.)

Our programs are flexible – presented at a depth that’s always appropriate to the specific audience; offered either as day-long programs or a series of shorter presentations. When necessary, we are able to summarize the principles of S3 Jesus-like Leadership in half-day programs and even short keynote presentations. Why so much flexibility? Because we are here to serve the whole Body of Christ in whatever context God and circumstances grace us.

As a matter of principle, we believe that no one should be prevented from learning how to be a Jesus-like Leader because of a lack of resources. So when we are asked to serve, we respond without regard for what’s in it for us. We ask that if it’s possible, hosts cover our expenses. But we have responded favorably even when they cannot.

For example, we have been able to offer programs for seminarians and high school students in Uganda, where both audiences are keen to learn how to lead as Jesus did – as servant, steward and shepherd.

With your support we can continue to develop new programs, reach out to new audiences, and continue to respond to the needs of people in the Catholic Church without regard for their ability to cover the costs.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, I hope and pray that you will express your gratitude with generosity – and that some of that generosity will be showered on us and our mission: “To serve God by helping all members of Christ’s body to love and lead as Jesus loved and led.”

Whatever you decide, we pray that God will continue to bless you, your loved ones and your work on His behalf. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thank you for assisting us with your prayers, referrals and contributions.

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