Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 29, 2006
Ethics means business
Jesuit finds hunger for ethical advice in the midst of Calgary's tall towers
By GLEN ARGAN
"By the end of the six days, I had gone to Confession and received Communion after 30 years away from the Church."
- Len Rodrigues
The priest was talking about the Enron scandal, concerns with business accountability and other ethical issues. The architect was trying to face down ethical matters in his own profession. The interview struck a chord.
"I called the CBC and said I had to talk to this guy. I had no idea where it would lead," Rodrigues told the WCR.
They met for lunch and talked about the issues raised in the interview. "Then he looked at me and said, 'What are you looking for?'"
Oliva gently probed Rodrigues' view of the world and at the end encouraged him to take his one-week "commuter retreat." In that retreat, retreatants continue their day job, talk with Father Max for an hour every day at St. Mary's Cathedral and spend daily time in prayer.
"When I took the retreat, the impact was profound," said Rodrigues. "By the end of the six days, I had gone to Confession and received Communion after 30 years away from the Church."
The annulment of his first marriage came through during the retreat and he and his second wife Carolyn were soon remarried in the Catholic Church. Carolyn herself became Catholic last year.
Rodrigues changed his job, coming to work for the U of A and is now active in St. John the Evangelist Parish and a Regnum Christi men's group.
Oliva said, "My purpose is (not to make more Catholics. It's to help people become the best person they can be."
Still, a few people are on their way to joining the Church after receiving his counsel.
Oliva came to Calgary from California several years ago to lead parish retreats. But after having run retreats across the diocese, he wanted something different. In his prayer, it seemed God wanted him to stay in Calgary.
He read an article in Fortune magazine about God and Business and he pondered the idea of launching an ethical consultancy to business people.
Oliva floated the idea past a friend who responded, "Father Max, it's a moral desert out there. We need you."
Then came the CBC interview which drew calls from several people. When the Calgary Herald ran a story in its business section on him with a front-page cue saying, "Priest brings faith to business community," he said, "It just took off.
"There was no going back after that."
He began his program with the commuter retreats. Then he started two groups where business people come to discuss their issues. He gives seminars to industry groups and edits a newsletter.
"I do a lot of lunches. That's the time when the business people in Calgary want to talk."
Now offers of speaking engagements are coming from across Canada. And Oliva is looking for people in other cities to take up the role of ethical consultant to people in business.
Oliva is the author of The Masculine Spirit and Free to Pray - Free to Love. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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