Everybody has a story. I think it is important to share the Live Greater story so you know why we exist and what brought us to this moment. Thanks for reading.
I have to admit, I am quite uncomfortable reflecting in a public forum like this. My 47 years of business experience typically prepared me for big time executive meetings and company gatherings, but this is altogether different. You see, I thought ‘my job’ in the heart of the business world defined my life. I took full responsibility to provide for my family and the raising of my children and ‘business’ was the way I accomplished that. I was passionate about what I did, setting goals and reaching them, and about building relationships with those I worked with as well as the customers I served. But just like that, it all came to an end. “My services were no longer needed,” they said. I was 65 with only a few years left before I retired and all of a sudden my world was shaken and I was lost. I will spare you the details, but through God working in my life, really without me knowing it or being aware of it, I was brought to a significant crossroads. Was I going to feel sorry for myself and continue to be a victim in the circumstances that I found myself in, or was there something new for me or a different direction to go in? I am grateful to my family who supported me in my time of transition and challenged me to be open to what was next. No one was more surprised than me.
It was Easter time and my middle son, Br. Innocent (a Franciscan in New York) brought up the question in an informal conversation about where I was at in my relationship with the Lord. He subtly encouraged me to attend Mass more than just once a week on Sunday and to start the journey of putting the Lord at the center of my life. I guess the Lord does not need a whole lot, because that is when it all changed I was praying more, reflecting more, asking bigger questions about my life and what my ‘purpose’ was in this new chapter of retirement. At this time, I was very much affected by our new Holy Father, Pope Francis and the way he witnessed the mercy and love of God to all he met. I was instantly attracted to this way of experiencing the Church and its mission in the world…and it didn’t stop there.
In my daily hunger to read more about Pope Francis and who he was and what we could expect from him, I came across the statement that one of the Cardinals whispered to him as he realized that he had enough votes to become Pope in the Conclave. “Don’t forget the poor!” This exhortation is what inspired him to take the name Francis after St. Francis of Assisi. This statement shook me. Not only did it shake me but it awakened a desire in me to support Pope Francis in his mission to live the Gospel mandate to care for the poor and for those in need. And thus, the Live Greater Foundation Mission was born.
My sons, who are members of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in NYC are a part of a Community whose mission it is to engage in hands-on work with the poor and to preach the Gospel. Their stories and work have inspired me for years now, but now I feel like I can work alongside them and support them in their mission to serve the poor and forgotten.
I have spent most of my life “forgetting the poor” and it is now, following the leadership of Pope Francis, I am inspired to work, a day at a time, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and to preach the gospel to all we meet.
Retirement is a funny thing. Live Greater is the start of a new chapter for me and a new story that is being written. I ask you to join me in this endeavor, to not forget the poor, and to make a tremendous impact on our brothers and sisters who suffer in the world.
“How will we do it?” you may ask? You see, God is the one who provides, but he needs us to be more open, and he needs more room to work in our lives. The inspiration of Live Greater is a sincere understanding and desire to get better every day, to have bigger hearts, to give more of ourselves to our families, friends, and even strangers. More of God and less of us, you could say. The Live Greater movement is hungry for a Greater Faith that puts God in the center of our lives, a Greater Hope that forming a Christian culture is possible in the world today, and Greater Love that demands that we give more of ourselves to God, to each other, and to those in need. We cannot continue to do things like we always have! Living Greater is about bearing fruit in a world so much in need of faith, hope, and love.
Twenty years ago, I would have laughed if someone said this is what I would be doing in my retirement. I conclude with a grateful heart and sincere invitation for you to join me in this journey.
Dick Montgomery President Live Greater Foundation