Mary Ellen Robinson
Chief Operating Officer
As we prepare for the celebration of Easter, it is important to keep all we have learned during this Lenten season close to our hearts. At a recent Angelus address, Pope Francis reminded people that Lent is a perfect time to focus on seeking the “living water” of Christ by detaching from the things of this world so that we can enjoy the “water that satisfies every thirst.” Francis said, “This time of Lent is a good time to approach him, meet him in prayer in a heart to heart conversation, see his face in the face of a brother or sister suffering.”
Pope Francis will begin Holy Week with a Palm Sunday procession from the middle of Saint Peter’s Square to the main altar. Featured during Mass will be an exchange of the World Youth Day cross from the young people of Poland to those of Panama, where the next World Youth Day will take place in 2019. We pray that the Holy Father remains safe and in good health during this Easter season so that he can continue to inspire the youth of the world - and all people - to allow mercy to reign in our hearts.
This past month, The Christophers held a Weekend Leadership Course at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake, home of Mundelein Seminary and the school of theology for the Archdiocese of Chicago. Eleven seminarians and six laypeople participated in this invigorating weekend where leadership skills were explored in a relaxed and supportive environment.
Father Gus Belauskas, a longtime teacher at Saint Mary of the Lake, has been instrumental in offering our leadership course to seminarians for many years. We chatted with him, and he recalled his first encounter with our course. “It was 45 years ago,” he said. “I was a seminarian and the course was offered at a parish in Des Plaines, Illinois. I remember that it was particularly helpful in building confidence, and that’s why we offer it for our seminarians to this day.”
Father Gus sat in on the last session at our recent weekend course and then offered Mass. The Christophers are grateful for the wonderful working relationship we have had with Father Gus. Over the years, our instructors have always returned with glowing praise for the holy and welcoming presence he provides at Mundelein. Thank you, Father Gus, for all that you do in helping to prepare the next generation of priests in our nation.
The winners of our 68th annual Christopher Awards have been announced and our ceremony will be held on May 16. CBS News’ 60 Minutes is receiving an award for a segment highlighting a program that provides support to grieving military parents who have lost a child in the line of duty. We will also honor Hacksaw Ridge, a feature film about a conscientious objector who wound up saving 75 men during the World War II battle of Okinawa without firing a single shot. In books for adults, Carry On chronicles the bond that developed between two disabled high school wrestlers and an ESPN producer who, while documenting their lives, wound up devoted to seeing them succeed. And in books for young people, Baby Wren and the Great Gift is the story of a young bird struggling with feelings of inadequacy until finding its own unique, God given talent. For a full list of this year’s winners, read our press release here.
Please also be sure to take a look at Father John Catoir’s interview with one-time Christopher Award winner James Cagney, which can be seen here. This is a beautiful conversation that took place between two truly great communicators. Father Catoir conducted this interview when he was serving as President of The Christophers and his questions set the stage for Cagney to reveal an endearing side of his personality. He came from humble beginnings and he never lost that humility. What a privilege it is for The Christophers to have had the opportunity to honor James Cagney during his lifetime! And we look forward to honoring all of our 2017 Christopher Award winners, who follow in his footsteps as the newest generation of creators of books, films and television programs that affirm the highest values of the human spirit.
Thanks to our donors for making all we do possible. The Christophers wish everyone a happy and blessed Easter season!
Mary Ellen Robinson