Leadership becomes us

Scores of students from Holy Redeemer School in Evansville sat attentively in the pews of the parish church after a Jan. 30 Mass as Jim Muehlbauer began speaking. Jim is vice-chairman of Evansville’s Koch Industries and vice-president of the Koch Foundation, which has awarded a $30,000 grant to Holy Redeemer to establish the Leader in Me program at the school. It is the latest in the foundation’s ongoing efforts to support the development of leadership in diocesan Catholic schools.

I can argue that Muehlbauer exemplified the kind of leadership he discussed because he was able to hold the attention of all those elementary school students throughout his remarks.

He mentioned the day’s Gospel (Mark 4:21-25), which includes Jesus’ rhetorical question about whether a lamp is brought in to be placed under a bed or a bushel basket. We all know the answer, and Muehlbauer linked our Lord’s example to the concept of leadership. “All of us are leaders in our own ways,” he said, and encouraged the students – and all the adults at Mass – to let their leadership shine, especially through living lives that reflect the Gospels and our Savior.

He added, “When you see a need, have the courage to say something.”

Without question, that exemplifies being a leader. It also reflects the Gospels and our Savior; and it reflects our personal foundations in faith.

A reflection of leadership – and the just-concluded National Catholic Schools Week – students in our 26 Catholic schools continue efforts that reflect their vision and courage. They see needs, and they are saying – and doing – something.

One example comes from Corpus Christi School on Evansville’s west side, where students have completed their annual “Pennies for Patients” fundraiser to benefit leukemia and lymphoma research. After setting a goal of raising $4,000, they raised $4,027. Well-done, all!

That truly is just one example. Throughout the school year, our students collect and donate untold thousands of pounds of truly good food to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry. Many of you reading this contribute to that effort.

When those students see something and say something – and when you chip in however you can to assist in their efforts – you are leading by example. When you support parish fish fries in a few weeks when Lent begins, and when you support parish socials and events like the annual Noodle Dinner at St. Peter Parish in Linton, you are leading by example. Those who volunteer for these efforts are leading by example. The hundreds of pilgrims who stood and marched for life in Washington, D.C., a couple of weeks ago led by example.

This column’s headline is my point. Leadership becomes us … all of us. We often don’t think of it that way because it’s second nature to many. They are just doing what they know to be right and just.

I believe that knowledge comes from the foundation of their faith. I urge you all to keep leading.