Filling our buckets with gratitude
By Stephen Fatum
In today’s world, there are so many great organizations doing important work that it is difficult to decide which causes to support.
One strategy that has worked for us comes from the world of investments. It’s diversification. My wife and I identify “buckets” for our gifts. Just as we allocate funds by investment classification, we allocate gifts by charitable objectives. Categories might include: geography (international and domestic charities), needs (such as spiritual, artistic, educational and humanitarian causes), loyalty (alma mater, church and schools), gratitude (recognition of family members or close friends), or personal interests (music, research areas, or hobbies).
By supporting the Jesuits, we can fill several “buckets” at the same time. For example, we have supported Cristo Rey Jesuit High School and the Chicago Jesuit Academy in Chicago, which help to meet educational, spiritual, and humanitarian needs locally. We also support the work of our longtime friends Frs. Edwin Daly, SJ, in India, and Kevin Flaherty, SJ, in Peru, which helps to meet spiritual and humanitarian needs internationally. In addition, we give funds that support the training of seminarians, which can be particularly satisfying because we know each seminarian has the potential to touch deeply the lives of many people over the course of a lifetime.
But there’s more. When we support Jesuit initiatives, we feel like we are participating in important ministries that make a difference. We have tremendous confidence that any work undertaken by the Jesuits will be not only high quality, but also rooted in Ignatian spirituality, which for us means the return on the contribution will be even more fulfilling.
When we make gifts, we often do so in honor of specific Jesuits. This allows us to express our gratitude in a personal way for how they have inspired andtouched our lives. By their example, the Jesuits have taught us the importance of asking good questions that get to the heart of an issue, creating relationships that can help to solve problems, and reaching out to lend a hand when others are reluctant to do so.
While people often like to separate the worlds of intellect and faith, the Jesuits demonstrate how they can be integrated. For example, they encourage their students and others to seek answers that do not show blind faith, but rather thoughtful reasoning based on personal experience and a quest for knowledge. In this manner, the Jesuits have encouraged us to “pursue the truth with love.”
Our Jesuit mentors and friends live by the motto, “contemplatives in action.” They use their talents to make a difference in the lives of others, day in and day out, in whatever work they discern God is calling them to do. By being men for, with, and among others, our Jesuit friends inspire us to do the same—in our family, with our friends, in our work, and in our community.