Chaplain urges Catholic business leaders to help their neighbors

Father Hayden Vaverek, U.S. Air Force, veteran, Catholic Business Breakfast, Greer

Father Hayden Vaverek, U.S. Air Force, veteran, Catholic Business Breakfast, GreerGREER—Father Hayden J. Vaverek, a 21-year U.S. Air Force veteran, spoke about the need for action in times of societal crisis during the Catholic Business Breakfast on Nov. 11 at the Thornblade Country Club.

“The huge challenge for our nation and for our families is how to be a people of faith in the face of great adversity,” he said. “The natural tendency in crisis is to pull in, hunker down; we need to be doing the exact opposite. Becoming self-centered is never the way to pull through hard times.”

Father Vaverek is the pastor of St. Joseph Church in Anderson and a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force chaplain corps. He used an example from his parish ministry to illustrate how a community in crisis can assist neighbors. The priest talked about the trials facing his small parish school, once nearly at capacity with a student population of 130 students and now struggling with 83. His fixed costs are $740,000 a year, regardless of whether 60 or 120 students are enrolled.

“So, how do we get more people in the seats? We gave 14 families financial aid this year and we needed other new ideas in the face of this challenge. Some parishioners opposed it, but we spent $5,000 to buy gift cards to give away at our gala. It became known as the St. Joe’s Stimulus Package. We also sold $2,500 tables to nonprofits for $100 per person.”

The money helped the Anderson community, where two locally owned businesses closed in the past month, and attracted more people to the gala. The moves were good business and morally correct, he said.

“It’s easy to get caught up in what I’m doing and to overlook what others need,” the priest said. “But our God never teaches us to be selfish.”

Father Vaverek said the economy is struggling fundamentally because of greed.

“Making money is OK, unless it’s at the expense of others. If business people decided to change the world, the world would change,” he said.

Then he tied the theme of money-at-work to the day’s national celebration.

“As believers, we have to be strong on this Veterans Day. We can overcome Fort Hood just as we overcame 9/11. We can overcome not by becoming self-centered but by reaching out, by starting to look at how God is active and present in our lives.

“Our God calls us to be all that we can be, to be witnesses in our community of hope in adversity, to find our strength in each other as members of the communion of saints.”

The breakfast was attended by about 60 people. It was sponsored by Mediatrix Radio; Polydeck Screen Corp.; Compass Consulting; Versalus Ltd.; The Catholic Shop; St. Anthony’s Catholic Store; and Stravalo Wealth Management.