Father John Catoir

Father John Catoir

Our planet needs hope and joy. It needs what you have to give. Each of us must try to find a way to help others find encouragement and inspiration in this darkened world. When these insights hit me — and I concluded that one person can make a difference — it changed everything.

In 1977, I received word that a Catholic multimedia organization, known as the Christophers, was searching for a new director. My heart leapt. I had admired their recently deceased founder, Father James Keller, ever since my father gave me his book, “You Can Change the World” when I turned 18.

The Christophers, a nonprofit corporation, had two components: a radio and television production company and a publishing house that produced spiritual books and pamphlets. Communications is at the heart of its mission.

Getting a job like that would be a dream come true. In college, I joined the radio station at Fordham University hoping to prepare myself for a career in media, but after I decided to be a priest, it all changed. I put away those dreams and considered them a youthful fantasy.

I was working as a pastor and running the marriage tribunal of the Diocese of Paterson in New Jersey, and had no experience running a media organization. Why even bother to apply? I also felt unworthy to be Father Keller’s successor. Doubts like that killed my enthusiasm.

Three weeks later, a burst of energy hit me. I suddenly thought, “What have you got to lose?” I decided to write a letter to the board of directors applying for the position. This surprising shot of courage took over before I had a chance to question it. Looking back, I now see that God’s grace led me to act.

Without taking our freedom away, God influences us to see something more clearly or to take some action we had once been afraid of taking. When I realized that the only thing holding me back from applying for the job was my fear of being rejected, I moved quickly. God’s grace spurred me on to follow this new surge of purpose and direction.

It is extremely important for everyone to see the connection between the graces we receive in life and the hidden hand of God. Fear and insecurity can never be allowed to prevail over the noble desires of the human heart.

It took one year from the time I applied for the job until the board chose me to be their new director. I was flabbergasted and jubilant. During my time as director, which lasted nearly 18 years, I devoted myself to recording radio spots, which were syndicated nationally, doing television interviews, writing books and articles, and running an office with 50 employees.

Bringing the Christophers’ message to millions was a profound joy. To this inspiration, I added the theme that Jesus proclaimed in John 15:11, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”