Looking to saint, Groh leads volunteers to ’set the world on fire’

| August 18, 2016 | 0 Comments
Kathleen Groh is the regional director for Ignatian Volunteer Corps, a job she began five years ago after serving as a lay ecclesial minister for more than 35 years. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Kathleen Groh is the regional director for Ignatian Volunteer Corps, a job she began five years ago after serving as a lay ecclesial minister for more than 35 years. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Kathleen Groh, 72

Organization Ignatian Volunteer Corps
Title Regional Director
Parish St. Jude of the Lake, Mahtomedi
Children Mary Dado, Therese Faulconbridge and Thomas; 8 grandchildren
Volunteer activities Association of Pastoral Ministers, faith formation catechist, community and civic volunteer activities
Education Mankato State College, bachelor’s in elementary education, 1964; St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, master’s in religious education, 1998

What does leading with faith mean to you?

I have always believed that faith is a verb, and that means we are called to make a difference in the lives of others. St. Ignatius of Loyola said “Love (faith) consists in sharing what one has and what one is with those one loves. Love (faith) ought to show itself in deeds more than in words.”

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

I have had the distinct privilege to serve in the Church as a lay ecclesial minister for more than 35 years. After these years of directing, teaching and leading all ages in archdiocesan parishes, I believe that the last five years directing the Ignatian Volunteer Corps is my “golden encore.” As the IVC volunteers gather monthly and on retreats, these remarkable people genuinely inspire one another and me with their reflections on the work they are doing, share their stories and deepen their Ignatian spirituality.

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

Children have an amazing grasp of all things holy. Without even realizing it, their faith has made a difference in my life.

My daughter needed a last-minute childcare option for Liam, my 4-year-old grandson. I had plenty to do, but I set aside all the afternoon tasks and said I’d be happy to have him come over. Liam jumps out of the car in delight and happily exclaims, “Grandma, I am so glad you were available.”

Upon reflection, I realized that God is absolutely delighted when we drop our agenda like the Good Samaritan and tend to the needs of others. All of us are challenged to re-check our priorities and make ourselves available whenever the need arises.

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

There have been too many people for me to choose from at this point in my life. I read recently that “You can choose the road you take, but you can’t choose where it takes you.” It seems that on my life’s journey at every twist and turn there have been loving family members and good friends, challenging teachers, authors and publicists, wise figures and most of all, beautiful people of faith who have supported, encouraged and prayed for me along the way.

What achievement at work are you most proud of?

I was once told that volunteers will always be attracted to a “warm fire.” That is what I have tried to provide as I lead the IVC. Watching the steady growth of the IVC from 10 volunteers to 25 and sending them into the nonprofits that serve those who are poor and vulnerable is most gratifying. We are called by St. Ignatius to “set the world on fire,” and these men and women are lighting them all over the metro area.

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

Every day, the God of surprises sends me a message in even the smallest of ways. I just have to take the time to become aware of it, reflect on it and be grateful for a loving God who continues to bless me daily.

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

Jesus gave us a perfect model of leadership to follow. He listened, and established a vision with his apostles through witness and teaching. He never asked them to do anything he wasn’t willing to do himself. Jesus responded to the needs of others with compassion and mercy and empowered others to use their gifts and abilities to bring about the kingdom of God. Most of all, he led a life based on prayer. As leaders, we are asked to follow him to the best of our ability and do the same.

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Category: Leading With Faith