Why I'm a Steward
In November 2010, Niall and Gretchen Gannon travelled to Rome to witness the elevation of Cardinal Raymond Burke, then Archbishop of St. Louis. It was during this trip that the Gannons had the pleasure of meeting Joe & Rosemary Shaughnessy.
“Our conversation turned to their involvement with The Papal Foundation, which opened our eyes to the great needs around the World, and how much our faith must extend beyond just ourselves,” said Niall.
Not long after the trip, back home in St. Louis, the Gannons met Father James Kisero Awuor, who on a mission trip spoke at their parish about a health clinic he was building in Kenya. Tragically, Fr. James was murdered upon his return to Kenya, which threatened the completion of the clinic.
The Holy Spirit called the Gannons to help.
“At that point, it was clear we couldn’t wait for someone else to step up, so we committed to funding the project* and becoming Stewards of St. Peter,” Gannon explained.
This decision was affirmed when a 7.0 earthquake rocked Haiti, demolishing health clinics and cutting off access to clean water.
“That tragedy has always stuck with me,” Gannon added. “For that type of poverty to exist
only a few hundred miles off the U.S. mainland greatly troubles me.”
Gannon believes The Papal Foundation is a smart, strategic way to help address worldwide inequities.
“The pain and suffering in the World can be overwhelming and it is difficult to assess and prioritize needs,” Gannon said. “It became clear the Pope was the person in the single best position to determine needs around the globe with the help of his Papal Nuncios.”
During their time as Stewards of St. Peter, the Gannons have travelled to Rome 4 times.
“On our first pilgrimage, we thought we would meet Pope Benedict XVI, but by the time our trip arrived, we had the pleasure of being one of Pope Francis’ first lay audiences,” Gannon added.
The Gannons are proud of St Louis’ deep engagement with the Papal Foundation, crediting the Shaughnessys for their example.
“Whether you are talking success in business, how to make a great marriage, or community involvement, Joe and Rosemary are tremendous role models.”
As he looks to the future, Gannon is energized about The Papal Foundation’s rejuvenation, centered on openness and listening to needs around the World, including social injustices, which are clearly rampant today.
“We are proud to be a part of this amazing group of people,” he concluded. “Our World needs the Catholic Church and the Church needs The Papal Foundation.”
*Since the completion of the project, The Papal Foundation has helped expand the clinic, turning it into a modern medical facility.