Sharon Burns – Master Angler?!

Elsewhere in this issue of The Message (look in the Local News section here on the website), Assistant Editor Megan (Erbacher?) reports on her recent chance to spend time with Sharon Burns – talking about Burns’ tenure as Director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Evansville.

Burns, a local native, arrived to the diocesan staff not long before I showed up – so I have witnessed the development of Catholic Charities under her leadership. Recently, the diocesan staff held an informal luncheon to thank Burns for her service, and I found myself contemplating a question: Who knew Sharon Burns was a Master Angler?!

I have never seen her wield a rod and reel, let alone make a cast before hooking and playing a fish of any size. That doesn’t change my perspective; she is, indeed, a master angler. I make that statement as I recall a Bible passage and an old saying that I suspect all of us have heard.

From the Bible: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).

The old saying: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime” (Unknown).

I list the old saying as unknown because I have seen it attributed to a number of different sources – from the ancient Chinese to Native America’s Navajo Tribe, with many others in between. Who first said it isn’t important just now. What it represents, however, is key.

Under Sharon Burns’ leadership, Catholic Charities became an organization that worked hard on a number of different fronts to “teach people to fish” – to help them build lives that work. Charities also “gave people fish” by meeting acute (and sometime chronic) financial and other needs. However, there always was that push for everyone Charities touched to “learn to fish.”

Burns might be called the superintendent of this fishing school because her leadership spawned programs like Boots 4 Work and the social enterprise known as Handy Helpers Home Repair. At the same time, she lived that Bible verse mentioned above because her leadership and example inspired others to do – sometimes more than they had been; sometimes for the first time ever.

She served as a “fisher of men” across our 12 counties, and she recruited many more to follow in her footsteps. All of us wish her  well as she moves into a new role that enables her to continue to help those seeking to make America their home and “learn to fish” here. I have little doubt that her impact will be huge.

Thank you Sharon, and God Bless you!