Bona models intellectual, inspirational, faith-filled spirit

| August 18, 2016 | 0 Comments


Roger Bona says that “you must respect your people before you can lead them.” Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Roger Bona, 66

Company St. Anthony Mobil, Bona Properties of St. Anthony
Title President/Owner
Parish Immaculate Conception, Columbia Heights
Spouse Jane
Volunteer activities Immaculate Conception Church and School: parish council, Fun Fest chairman, Queen of May dinner and auction, school beautification, basketball coach at Immaculate Conception and in Columbia Heights
Education University of St. Thomas, St. John Vianney College Seminary, St. Paul, 1976

What does leading with faith mean to you?

John Haynes Holmes, co-founder of the NAACP and American Civil Liberties Union, stated, “There must appear a spiritual and moral leadership above economic and political situations. We must give the peoples of the world something to live for, as well as to live on.” This quote has always resonated with me because I believe being a witness in testimony and lifestyle to one’s co-workers will create a “spirit” that is intellectual, inspirational and faith-filled.

How do you concretely apply your faith and Catholic values at work?

I do not make apologies or compromises for our Catholic faith. We have a rich and deep faith, and I have always kept it at the heart of all I do. Respect for all, no matter where we stand, in similarities and differences, compromise and balance, rooted in our Catholic traditions, enables us to have a cohesive relationship between workers and customers.

Tell a story about a time when applying your faith at work really made a difference.

The five most important words I learned in my years of Catholic education were “Lord, thy will be done.” These words come back to me on a daily basis. As we experience life and work, there are moments of self-doubt, self-pity and the desire to give up. Then, divine will intervenes and reminds me of my countless blessings and opportunities. I have interactions with customers and members of my community that make me feel blessed. These experiences come into play in the workplace every day. Without them, I would not have that constant reminder that God’s will is indeed being done every day.

Who or what has most inspired you to bring your faith to the marketplace?

In my early days as a business owner, I had a confidant named Phil Resha. Phil was a very successful wholesale beverage company owner. We connected and compared notes on the wisdom of Bishop Fulton Sheen. Our conversations generally gravitated toward the trials and tribulations of being a business owner.

One interesting note was Phil sharing that his biggest mistake in business was turning down Anheuser-Busch’s request to be the first bottled water distributor in Minnesota. Phil’s response was, “Who is going to buy bottled water?” Who knew how big that business would grow?

My biggest challenge was the business sometimes running me, instead of me running the business. We both learned from the wisdom of Bishop Sheen, whose philosophy was to learn from your mistakes and operate from strength.

What achievement at work are you most proud of?

All of my employees have been successful and able to establish a lifestyle that was conducive to long-lasting stability. They all have homes and families and live comfortably. I am proud to have been a part of making that stability possible.

In what specific ways have you experienced God’s presence in your workplace?

“Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you” (Lk 11:9). In any trying situation during my years of work, from customer satisfaction and hiring of personnel to establishing a business plan, I found immediate comfort in our Lord’s presence when I would refer to that Scripture passage.

An example of this was illustrated when I felt a need for assistance due to the growing demand for business. I needed immediate help. In earnest, I asked God for the quality help I desperately needed at that time. In response to my desperate pleas, Angelo Sinchi-Quito walked in the door the very next morning. This was the beginning of a remarkable, 15-year relationship. The timing of Angelo’s “coming on board” was perfect evidence of God’s presence in the workplace.

What advice do you have for others who want to lead with faith?

The pulpit of business ownership is wide open to influence, both negative and positive. People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude. To be a person of positive influence, you must respect your people before you can lead them.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” In a business sense, “others” would be our co-workers. If we do our work in a faith atmosphere, we will work at a maximum advantage. This witnessing of faith tends to be reciprocal. If workers see it in their leaders, they tend to follow suit.

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Category: Leading With Faith