Brian Vogrinc in Rockford, IL, and Randy Hain in Roswell, GA, have three things in common.
Both are Catholic laymen. Both are professionals in the executive search business. And both are using their professional skills in their parishes to assist people who are unemployed. Randy, managing partner of Bell Oaks Executive Search in Roswell, near Atlanta, is a frequent contributor to a variety of Catholic publications seeking to integrate the laity's work and faith. Brian, president and partner at Vogrinc & Short, was a recent guest on a radio program hosted by Dr. Owen Phelps, Director of the Yeshua Institute, where Brian talked about what is being done in his parish to assist the unemployed.
Both men have another thing in common. They're not trying to get the job done on their own. In fact, both of them have marshaled the resources of many other lay people to give the ministries they founded broad reach and greater impact.
In Brian's parish, Holy Family in Rockford, he and 10 other human resource professionals who volunteer in the ministry maintain a web site. Since the professionals are listed alphabetically, Brian's name comes last.
Holy Family hosts their Work Ministry meetings every Wednesday at 7 a.m. Everyone is welcome.
People don't have to be parish members or even Catholic — consistent with the vision that "we don't help people because they're Catholic, we help people because we're Catholic." The group has been meeting for eight years. Meetings are an opportunity to be affirmed, network, and get practical guidance and assistance with job searches. Once a month, one of the HR professional volunteers prepares a short address on a topic of interest to those seeking employment.
Before he began the ministry, Brian says, "Often I sat back and asked myself, where is God leading me? What should I do with my life?" The questioning got more intense until he remembered a former pastor saying, "Bloom where you are planted." He had been to Haiti to help with building projects there, but it helped him realize that his calling wasn't to be a volunteer carpenter. "That's not where my gifts are. But then I realized that I've been helping people find work for a long time, and perhaps I could contribute in that way."
He also saw helping people find work as an opportunity to evangelize. "It matters what we do," he explains. Brian admits that sometimes he wonders if he is making a difference. But then a note arrives — like the recent one from a man, 62, who had been out of work for 13 months and had just found a job.
"He wrote to say how much he appreciated our support," Brian recalls. Currently, he's especially motivated by the case of a brilliant man who has been unemployed and underemployed for years. He has no family and no one else to turn to. The parish ministry is helping him learn some new skills to make him more employable.
"It's uplifting to me to also see so many volunteers who are willing to give of their time," Brian says. He mentions that one of the volunteers was introduced to the program when he was unemployed. After he found work a new job, in the HR field, he returned to help others. "And he's not even Catholic," Brian adds.
Randy is the catalyst behind the St. Peter Chanel Jobs Ministry, which among other things distributes an e- newsletter throughout the Atlanta Archdiocese listing the résumés of people looking for work, helpful job search resources and job opportunities. It also describes several other job ministries offered by other parishes in the archdiocese, complete with email links to reach them.
Randy says, "A number of people have found jobs through the networking efforts generated by this ministry and the selfless efforts of people all over Atlanta who reach out to our candidates."
St. Peter Chanel might well serve as a model for parishes that want to serve professional people. It hosts an annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference featuring nationally-prominent speakers, and its members maintain the Atlanta Catholic Business Conference forum on the professional social networking site LinkedIn. More information about the Atlanta Business Conference can also be found on its website.
In addition to being co-founder of the Atlanta Catholic Business Conference, Randy also leads the St. Peter Business Association, which hosts monthly meetings with a featured popular speaker to address the group's mission of helping Catholic professionals and business people integrate faith, family and work.
Hain says, "There is a growing awareness in our archdiocese and around the country in the Catholic community about the need to lead more fully integrated, Christ-centered lives. The key is to become "lights for Christ" at work and let people see Jesus at work in you."
When asked about his active role in all of this, Randy quotes scripture, "The "harvest is great, but the laborers are few" (Luke 10:2), adding: "We must all do our part, and I simply try to be a vehicle for God's will in the ministries I lead. It is amazing what happens when we surrender control and serve the Lord first!"
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