“Leaders Take the Focus Off I and Put it on GOD” Says Religious Sister

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

April 01, 2023

Recently, the Lay Centre in Rome invited Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Marie Kolbe to make a presentation on Christian leadership at their weekly formative dinner. Here’s a brief article by Filip Veber.

When you speak about yourself, avoid using “I,” said Sister Marie Kolbe Zamora, OSF, at The Lay Centre’s residential community gather Feb. 15. Sister Kolbe is a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity and holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. Currently, she serves as an official for the General Secretariat of the Synod.

In speaking about leadership in Church organizations, she recalled a quote attributed to Cardinal Leo Jozef Suenens: “Non dico io, io, io, ma Dio, Dio, Dio” (“I do not say I, I, I, but God, God, God”). Although people may not always seek leadership, circumstances often force them to step up and take responsibility, she said. Sister Kolbe also mentioned the importance of a Catholic approach to leadership, which is servant leadership. Servant leaders do not submit to the needs and abilities of others for their own desires, but take stock of their gifts to contribute to [.1] the greater good.

Leadership is a gift from God to be used for the benefit of others, she said. In her own case, she never received any formal leadership training but learned from her life experiences and from her family in the United States. Today, one of her many capacities is to help others to develop their leadership skills.

She also distinguished between leaders and administrators. While different, they are equally important. The former may focus on the vision or mission of an organization, whereas the latter may concentrate on pursuing expected outcomes. Mixing up these roles often leads to confusion in Church organizations, she added.

She also used examples from the lives of St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Francis of Assisi to illustrate great Catholic leadership. Over dinner, Sister Kolbe spoke about her work and current experience at the Synod’s office.

Overcoming spiritual blindness

On same evening, Father Showraiah Guvvala, OSB, from India, presided over Mass. He is a professor in the faculty of theology of the Pontifical University of St. Anselm. Father Guvvala preached on the passage in the Gospel of Mark (8:22-26) where Jesus heals a blind man. Father Guvvala explained how this miracle can represent the healing of our one’s own spiritual blindness.

One experiences blindness when one cannot make sense of life. It is in these moments, he added, that one should turn to God for understanding and clarity. One must recognize that discernment cannot be done alone. We need the “healing touch of Jesus,” who will provide the opportunity for us to grow spiritually, he said.

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