I have found two new people to admire. One is a Cardinal and the other a pediatrician.
The Cardinal is Joseph Tobin, recently appointed by Pope Francis to be the archbishop of Newark, NJ. Prior to this appointment, Tobin served as archbishop of Indianapolis, IN from 2012-2016. Why do I admire this new Cardinal in the church? For several reasons.
First, I like his positive spin on politics. Tobin encourages all citizens—including Catholics—to become more involved in politics. He says, “If I could change anything it would be to restore the luster to the word politician.” He reminds us that the word politician comes from the Greek polis that originally meant “the people.” Says, Tobin, “A politician is somebody who works for the common good.”
The Cardinal also says we should not refrain from discussing “hot-button” issues with others. We should not say, “I want to know what you think about this particular issue, and then I’ll decide whether I’m going to talk with you anymore.” Tobin, like Pope Francis, encourages us to talk with each other—especially with individuals who think differently than we do. Tobin himself does this. For example, when he was archbishop of Indianapolis, the Governor of Indiana was Mike Pence (now Vice President). Pence announced that all Syrian refugees would be banned from settling in Indiana. Tobin, a prominent voice against immigration bans, asked to meet with Pence. Pence agreed. Tobin brought along the director of Catholic Charities, the director of the diocesan Refugee Resettlement Program, and an Iraqi refugee named Ali. Ali had settled in Indiana a few years back, had earned a university degree, and was gainfully employed. Ali was proud to tell the Governor that he was an American citizen and he hoped someday his family could join him in this country. At one point Pence told Tobin that Indiana would not pay for any more refugees. Tobin replied, “OK, if you’re not going to pay for them, we (the Church) will find the money.” The refugee families, said Tobin, would not be a burden on the state.
At the end of their meeting, both Pence and Tobin agreed to pray about the issue and for each other. They also agreed not to talk to the media about the specifics of their meeting. Says Tobin, “We still talk to each other. We don’t throw punches or anything.”
In his talks and encyclicals, Pope Francis is “fostering a culture of encounter.” Obviously, Tobin supports this in both word and deed. Tobin believes that religion is not something we do for an hour on Sunday. Instead, “Religion is a lifestyle. It means that what I believe influences the way I live.”
Another person I admire is Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician serving in Flint,
Michigan. In 2014 the city of Flint switched its water source from the Detroit system to the Flint River—in order to save money. Soon people began to complain of the smell, appearance, and taste of their tap water. One civil engineer studied the water and reported that it contained dangerous levels of lead. Such levels were known to cause brain damage in children. Despite his evidence, government leaders insisted the water was safe.
At this same time, Dr. Hanna-Attishi also began to notice alarmingly high levels of lead in the children she was treating. She decided to conduct her own study with the help of several colleagues. They were shocked by the data. Rather than wait to publish their findings in a medical journal (it would have taken too long), they called a press conference and presented their results. Immediately some officials questioned the doctor’s research and accused her of inciting “mass hysteria.” But the doctor stood her ground. “We knew our numbers were right,” she said later. With the help of the news media, she was soon vindicated, and the scope of the terrible tragedy was made known. As a result, two officials resigned and President Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint.
Dr. Hanna-Attisha, who is the daughter of Iraqi immigrants, was praised for her courage and perseverance. She said humbly, “If I can inspire a generation of strong women who are ethical and who are stubborn and who care about their communities, that would be worth it.”
A Cardinal and a pediatrician. Both devoted to serving others, especially those in need. Both gifted with courage and perseverance. Little wonder I admire them—and wish I could be more like them.
We all need strength and courage to deal with the trials of daily life. This song, “You are My Strength” by Hillsong reminds us of the source of our strength: our loving God. The accompanying pictures from space underscore the vastness and beauty of God’s creation. Let us pray for strength for all those suffering from the effects of Hurricane Harvey… and strength for those who are serving them in their need.
What are your thoughts on Cardinal Tobin and Dr. Hanna-Attisha?
Are there other people whom you admire? Why do you admire these individuals?
PS: I will be making my annual retreat September 1-7. Therefore there will be no new post on my blog on September 4. My next post will be Monday, September 11. I promise to pray for all of you during my retreat. Please pray for me too. Thank you and God bless you!