Debbie Gates

Catholic Business Connections encouraging discussion and challenging ideas

September 17, 2019

At the inaugural Catholic Business Connections (CBC) event held in February 2019, Bishop Brian Mascord launched a vision for this exciting new diocesan venture: “It is my hope that Catholic Business Connections will offer an environment that encourages discussion about perspectives on a broad range of challenging ideas, providing a great opportunity for members to enhance their faith life and build their professional network.”

Bishop Brian trusted that guest speakers would inspire members with their unique story and how they balance their work and spiritual life in the context of living in a challenging world. And, our speakers have not disappointed so far!
At the first CBC luncheon, 50 new members and guests gathered at Rydges Hotel in Campbelltown to network, enjoy a delicious meal and be inspired by guest speaker Robert Fitzgerald AM’s presentation on Trust and Integrity—touchstones for success in private and public life.

Upon reflecting on his various roles and experiences as a commercial lawyer, board member and executive officer with several profit and non-profit organisations, Robert concluded that, “Only personal integrity will build trust.” Robert also discussed at length his time as a commissioner on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and since 2004 as a commissioner with the Productivity Commission. He asked, “What is Integrity?” and offered this answer: “In the words of Micah, ‘Act with justice, love with tenderness and walk humbly with your God’” (Micah 6:8).

This same topic was addressed at CBC’s second luncheon in May at levelone@harbourfront in Wollongong. The guest speaker this time was Peter Turner, the director of schools for the Diocese of Wollongong (since 2007). Peter reflected on the impact of a changing and complex world. Referring to data illustrating that trust in institutions had declined significantly since the 1970s, he observed that, “If people don’t believe in the messenger, they won’t believe the message. If people don’t believe in you, they won’t believe in what you say. And, if it is about you, then it’s about your beliefs, your values, your principles and how true to these you are.”

Peter lamented that somewhere along the way towards the 21st century, notions of ethics, morality, honesty, character and personal discipline had come to be viewed as quaint, irrelevant and unnecessary by many. He cautioned that when trust and integrity are absent, anything can fill the gap. And, relating this to today’s youth, Peter said that whilst schools had a responsibility to educate young people, “It was the collective responsibility of everyone to help young people to sort things out, to not let extreme viewpoints take over from common sense, to promote reason, to presume goodness in other people, to reject cynicism and … to stop doing nothing.”

Peter ended his presentation quoting 17th-century Catholic mathematician and theologian, Blaise Pascal: “The virtue of a man or woman is not measured by any one extraordinary act (or word), but by his/her everyday conduct.” He then asked the 70 members and guests present to personally reflect on the question: “For what do I wish to be known?”

At both CBC luncheons, the guest speakers’ presentations were followed by robust Q&A sessions. The feedback received from members has been inspiring. Marie Pulford from St Mary Star of Sea College in Wollongong said, “Thank you for the invitation to this event and the opportunity to connect with other members of the community. Robert’s speech was thoroughly engaging and inspiring.” Diocesan committee member, Trish Reid, commented, “The Q&A sessions which have followed both Peter and Robert’s presentations have been engaging and enthusiastically responded to by all.”

The remaining CBC luncheon for 2019 will be held on Thursday 14 November at levelone@harbourfront, Wollongong. Guest Speaker: Elizabeth Espinosa, president of the Law Society of NSW.

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