by Father Mark Goldasich
“Remember that you are and Englishman, and have consequently won first prize in the lottery of life.”
Oh, give me a break! Really? Those were some of the more charitable thoughts that went through my mind when I first stumbled on this quote. Curious to see what if anything was special about the day after the Fourth of July, this was the first item that popped up. How ironic!
Those opening words were spoken by Cecil J. Rhodes, who was born on July 5, 1853, in . . . well, where else . . . England. Rhodes was a businessman, politician, and colonizer for England, primarily in South Africa. For a while, he even had a whole country — Rhodesia — named after him. (Of course, it’s now known as Zimbabwe.) He was the founder of the De Beers diamond company, which at one time supplied 90 percent of the world’s rough diamonds.
Many people are probably not familiar with Rhodes the colonizer, but I’ll bet they’ve heard of something called the Rhodes scholarship, which this wealthy man established in his will.
Considered “the oldest, most celebrated international fellowship,” students are selected each year — 32 from America alone — to receive this prestigious award to study at the University of Oxford. According to the scholarship’s website, winners are chosen “not only for scholarly achievements, but for their character, commitment to others and the common good, and for their potential for leadership.”
I bring up this because someone far more famous than Rhodes encouraged us to embrace a spirit of generosity. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “The gift you have received, give as a gift.”
This issue of The Leaven highlights some people who have done just that. On page 2, for example, former musicians from Good Shepherd Parish in Shawnee returned to the church for a special event. These vocalists and musicians were given their musical start, often as young people, at the parish. In thanksgiving for their successful careers, they came back — not only to entertain, but also to raise money for the parish’s music ministry, so others may experience what they were privileged to have.
The last page of this issue features a new program at Donnelly College, located in the urban core of Kansas City, Kan. Its purpose is to train exceptional teachers to work specifically in urban schools, to encourage and mentor students to develop their full potential. Those who will receive this wonderful education will then go out and share that gift with local students and parents.
Last, but not least, take a gander at page 6, where you can read about the awards won by Leaven staffers and freelancers at the recent Catholic Media Convention. I’m privileged to work with this incredible group of people. They pour their heart, soul and passion into all that they do, to bring to the archdiocese stories that touch the heart, mind and soul. Their talents for writing, photography and design are shared as a way to thank you for the gift of letting us into your homes 41 times a year.
While very few of us have the financial resources to fund something as far reach- ing as a Rhodes scholarship, each of us — no matter our age or location or income level — has gifts, which the Lord invites us to share in what- ever way we can. Something as simple as buying a glass of lemonade from a kid in a front-yard stand or getting some produce from a local farmers’ market or making a donation to your alma mater to use where most needed can have a impact way beyond what we might imagine.
This summer, go ahead and sponsor your own “Roads” scholarship — open up a way for someone to develop character, grow in commitment to others and the common good, and become solid leaders for the church and world of today and tomorrow.