Published January 21, 2016
MARIETTA—The 36 Catholic men and women of the Catholic Charities Atlanta 2015 Leadership Class graduated Thursday, Jan. 14, in a ceremony held at the Mansour Center in Marietta. This class marks the fifth year of the Catholic Charities Atlanta program, from which more than 200 servant leaders have graduated. The success of the program continues to grow as young faithful Catholic leaders look for opportunities to learn servant leadership and incorporate their faith in the workplace.
The 36 members of the 2015 Leadership Class represent 14 different parishes across the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Collectively, they are involved in 135 community, academic and social volunteer organizations and are members of or lead 60 different parish ministries.
Caroline Rittenhouse, chair of the Leadership Class steering committee, said, “I have been blessed to serve as the steering committee chair for this year’s class and was proud to see a very talented group of class members graduate. Based upon what I have seen this group accomplish, I am excited to send out to practice what they learned in the program and become true servant leaders. I am happy to have had a chance to get to know such a wonderful group of Catholic business leaders, and am very thankful to have been a part of a special evening to honor these individuals.”
One of the program’s components is that each class member must commit to volunteer or complete a service project on behalf of CCA. This year’s class collectively volunteered over 150 hours of their time to the agency. They helped sort and distribute gifts for the Christmas Connections program. They collected baby items for the Pregnancy and Parenting program, participated in speed interviewing skills training, and collected cleaning supplies and set up an apartment for refugee clients.
At the graduation ceremony each year, one class member is asked to speak about his or her experience being part of the CCA Leadership Class. This year’s speaker, Mark Van Zant, spoke to the audience about “preparing for your own spiritual journey.” He asked them to consider the following questions: “What is that you are scared of? What makes you afraid of pushing the limits of your faith in our one, true God? What keeps you striving for more?”￼
Nearly 100 Catholic business leaders attended the CCA Leadership Class graduation ceremony, including class members and their guests, program mentors and members of the CCA board of directors.
The evening’s celebration included a talk on servant leadership from keynote speaker, Father Henry Atem, pastor at St. George Church in Newnan. Father Atem spoke on the importance of the three graces (faith, hope, and love) received at baptism, and how these graces allow Christians to go out into the world and serve as beacons of Christ. Father Atem said, “Baptism helps us to sanctify the world, to uplift the world. Baptism makes it so that we are men and women of faith. We are men and women of hope. We are men and women of love.”
Those receiving awards at the ceremony included Xavier Balderas, who was presented with the Cindy Nofi Servant Leadership Award. This award recognizes the class member who emanates a deep spirituality, is dedicated to helping those less fortunate, and has shown a true commitment to the program. Recipients are “passionate and show an unconditional devotion to the loving service of others.” The top volunteer award went to Caroline Cassar, and the star student was Nick Blanchard.
Graduation is not the end of the class member’s journey, but just the beginning. Each of the class members has been matched with a senior Catholic business leader to serve in a nine-month mentorship program. The mentors are influential Catholic leaders in the Atlanta business community who have made a commitment to be involved in the spiritual and professional lives of these new servant leaders.
For more information about nominating someone for the 2016 Leadership Class or serving as a mentor, contact Julia Bacce Moseley at 404-920-7757 or by email at email@example.com.
Nominations for the 2016 class are now being accepted. Visit www.catholiccharitiesatlanta.org/participate/catholic-charities-atlanta-leadership-class/ for nomination forms, mentorship opportunities and sponsorship opportunities.