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The Pilgrimage of Philanthropy with Mark Petersen

By August 30, 2023September 8th, 2023podcast, Steier Tips

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In the Gospel, Jesus fed 5,000 with only five loaves and two fish. After the crowd was satisfied, there were 12 wicker baskets left over. God provides the abundance. In each episode of this podcast, we will explore, with pastoral leaders and development professionals, all the many ways God meets the spiritual and temporal needs of our parish communities, our Catholic schools and the diocesan church. And not only meets those needs but provides in abundance.

The 18th episode of the podcast is The Pilgrimage of Philanthropy with Mark Petersen.

With both of his grandfathers as Nazarene ministers, Mark Petersen grew up knowing the gospel and the work of ministry. He also grew up inspired by the example of his parents who determined to freeze the assets from their business upon reaching a certain point of success, dedicating any future growth from the business to a philanthropic foundation they established to support noble causes and make a difference in the world. After seminary, Mark and his wife brought their young family to Colombia as evangelical missionaries, but even at that early stage of his faith journey, Mark was drawn to “the mysteries of Catholicism and the beauty of the faith.” Later, after an Ignatian retreat in Bogota, he experienced a profound sense of being at home. Embracing the Catholic faith, Mark later turned to the spiritual exercise of going on pilgrimage to find the “time set apart” from his work of philanthropy and working with donors, charities, families, etc. Walking the camino of Santiago de Compostela, a walk he calls “a whole month retreat,” afforded him the insight to draw parallels between the journey of philanthropy and the journey of pilgrimage, insights he explores in his book, Love Giving Well: The Pilgrimage of Philanthropy.

In this episode, Mark explores these parallels, emphasizing that to give philanthropically cannot be transactional but should be transformational; it allows the giver an opportunity to enter into true and deep relationship and to risk heartbreak. Giving is a way to enter into the life of others and to receive as much as one gives, much like one does with fellow pilgrims on a spiritual journey. Philanthropy, Mark notes, is about bringing change into culture; a venture that takes time. It isn’t about fixing problems but changing hearts. This requires the same kind of patience that’s required on pilgrimage. Philanthropy from this perspective is more akin to stewardship. All stewards care for resources that ultimately are not their own; they are in touch with their own neediness. “Being generous is a state of mind, and not an amount of money,” Mark wrote in his book. Everyone is called to be generous with what he or she has first received from the generosity of others, and ultimately the generosity of God, the giver of all good things.

Guest: Mark Petersen
Title: CEO, Stronger Philanthropy

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