How can the Church speak to business leaders?

By Kevin J. Jones

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Catholic business leaders who integrate Catholic social teaching into their work life can help better themselves and society, says one Colorado business consultant.

“Well-formed Catholic business leaders can take the discussion of higher purpose to a deeper, richer and more meaningful level with other business leaders. It’s a great way to gently evangelize,” said Paul Winkler, the founder of Attollo, a new peer advisory organization for Catholic business leaders.

“Catholic business leaders face dual challenges of developing and growing a healthy organization and a healthy relationship with Christ,” Winkler told EWTN News. “When you love and trust in God, it affects absolutely everything else in your life. Integrating faith and work life starts by learning to live an authentic, integrated life.”

Each Attollo advisory group includes 12-15 business owners, CEOs, and presidents who aim to grow their business with the guidance of Catholic social teaching.

“We tackle issues like lifetime goal planning and execution, and personal and professional development all while learning and understanding principles of Catholic social teaching and its direct application and implication in their business,” Winkler said.

“We all hunger for God,” he continued. “Attollo provides an opportunity to work closely with others who desire to be drawn close to Him while working on developing a strong business to satisfy their needs and (the needs) of their employees while creating a worthwhile product or service that serves the common good.”

The Attollo program takes its name from the Latin word meaning “I lift.” It features monthly, day-long meetings Winkler compared to a “working retreat.” These meetings aim to help members focus on their faith, their family and their business. The meetings begin and end with prayers and attendees celebrate noon Mass together.

Each member sets faith goals such as going to confession and attending Mass more than weekly, as well as personal goals like spending more time with one’s family.

“We should always keep God in the center of our lives, our marriages and our work,” Winkler said.

He said that a stable and growing business is “vital” to creating a receptive environment for Catholic social teaching. At the same time, business leaders face the challenge of “developing a deeper relationship with Christ so that Catholic social teaching makes sense to them.”

Each member also sets business goals and receives advice from other members as well as one-on-one coaching sessions. Winkler said the Attollo program aims to provide tools, techniques, and “an outside set of eyes” necessary to create “breakthrough moments” that have been restricting an organization’s growth.

Winkler said an Attollo group “offers a time and a place, a disciplined approach and accountability that is needed for achieving big goals.”

Winkler himself runs a business consultancy called The 5Q.

He said he was inspired to start Attollo after reading the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace’s 2012 document on the vocation of the business leader. At the same time, he thought the document did not provide business men and women with direction in applying Catholic principles to their business.

“They needed help moving from principles or theory to actual practice,” he said.

Winkler cited Pope Francis’ words in his 2013 apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium.” The Pope said that business is a “noble vocation” provided businessmen “see themselves challenged by a greater meaning in life” and “serve the common good by striving to increase the goods of this world and to make them more accessible to all.”

Winkler said he hopes that Attollo participants will become well-known and attractive to future employees and business prospects by showing “Christ-centered, principled, virtuous leadership.”

The first Attollo pilot program took place in Denver from August to October. Now that the pilot program is complete, Winkler will charge a fee for participants based roughly on gross revenue of their company.

“Large or small, I don’t want to exclude anybody,” he said.

Winkler is also developing content that ties Catholic social teaching principles with principles of business so that the program can be adopted by others.

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