As the video went on, I started to think about what would happen after Mary Jo was no longer “in the picture”. There would come a time when Mary Jo’s personality and holiness wouldn’t be there to lead and touch people. It got me wondering how much of an organization’s “soul” is who their founder was.
Most organizations, whether secular or religious, take on much of their “personality” from the person who founded them. It makes sense that the organization’s purpose, methods, and mission would come from the very person(s) who brought life to it. While an organization does change some things over time, what usually does not change are its core beliefs and values passed on to it by its founder.
For example, the United States looks to the group of men who signed the Declaration of Independence and celebrates them as its Founding Fathers. For the most part people see in these men (Franklin, Adams, Jefferson ...) the very qualities that we hold dear as a country. We see the bravery, honor, love of freedom, and justice and claim it as our inheritance; passed on through the ages from them to us.
Many major businesses look to their founders with respect and adoration, and in some cases have their own little treasury of legend and lore surrounding them.
Mohammed, Buddha, and Confucius passed on much to their devotes. Luther, Calvin, and Smith also gave birth to causes taking as their identity that which their founders had believed in so strongly. The Jesuits have St. Ignatius, the Dominicans have St. Dominic, the Franciscans have St. Francis, and of course the Church has Christ. What would the Church be if She hadn’t been founded by and on Jesus?
In many ways the founder of an organization embodies their founder. And because of this, one popular way to discredit another group is to discredit their founder – and it’s often quite effective.
Another founder has been in the headlines lately - Msgr. Dale Fushek. Msgr. Dale Fushek is the founder of the popular movement Life Teen. Life Teen, according to their website is,
“an international Catholic movement that serves the Church by providing resources and faith experiences that help lead teens closer to Christ. This is accomplished through a vibrant Eucharistic spirituality and by creating widespread opportunities for teens to grow in their faith.”
Sadly, Msgr. Dale Fushek faces “allegations were raised that he had engaged in improper sexual conduct with teens. A year later he was charged with several misdemeanor criminal counts of assault, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and indecent exposure.” He has been suspended by his diocese and has decided to resign from the priesthood. He has recently started a nondenominational praise and worship center along with the former associate pastor of the same Parish (who left the priesthood in 2002) against the orders of his superiors. The complete story can be found here.
So with a daughter who will soon be exposed to Life Teen through the local Youth Group I’m left wondering - how much of a person is embodied in the organizations they found? I’m interested in hearing if any reader knows anything about this organization or has any experience with them.
Can the fruits be good if the roots are bad?