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Sanctified @ Work Summit an opportunity to integrate faith and work

By Sheryl Tirol

Earlier this year, Regis University hosted the inaugural Sanctified @ Work Summit, a dynamic one-day event delving into the intersection of faith and professional life, with a core mission to provide professionals with a unique platform for meaningful engagement with these themes.

The event featured keynote speaker Prof. Dave Geenens from Benedictine College, renowned for his expertise in intertwining Catholic social teaching with leadership and business. Geenens guided attendees through a transformative exploration, emphasizing the integration of Christian virtue into business practices.

Geenens asserted that virtuous leadership can be seamlessly woven into the fabric of business, challenging societal norms. His presentation referenced St. John Paul II’s encyclical letter, Centesimus Annus, in which he highlighted government’s responsibility to oversee human rights in the economic sector. Geenens noted the potential pitfalls of excessive government intervention, citing contradictions with the principle of subsidiarity in Catholic social thought.

“Some might argue that government intervention is a function of the unbridled pursuit of power by those in the government. Yet, I argue that intervention, the extreme of which is socialism, is a function of the lack of virtue practiced in business. Want less intervention? Practice virtuous leadership in business,” cautioned Geenens.

The summit provided attendees a chance to think about how they see themselves as business leaders, how they want to approach their careers and ultimately how to transform the culture in the United States. The conference also presented real-world experiences from local leaders, fostering inspirational dialogue. Students from across the Denver metro area were able to network with business and faith leaders during the event.

The summit prompted introspection on professional identities, inspiring attendees to reconsider their roles as business leaders and how they approach their careers.

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Paul Tamburello, owner of Generator Real Estate, said he gained several insights, particularly emphasizing the importance of courage and self-trust. “The ability to take risk is ultimately about trusting in the gifts and talents you have, where divine trust and divine inspiration come together,” he said.

Devon Nelson, co-founder and medical director of Big Life Integrative Health, reflected on her departure from conventional healthcare. “I believe in honoring the unique dignity of all individuals through the direct primary care model, allowing adequate time to hear patients’ stories and treat the whole person. Transitioning from the traditional healthcare system, I recognized the need for a new approach aligned with my belief of respecting patients’ dignity. At Big Life Integrative Health, I’ve found a better way to honor patients as creations of God, living out my Catholic faith in this new healthcare model,” Nelson said.

Regis alumnus and affiliate faculty member Ryan Boh underscored the imperative of bridging gaps between virtue, faith and the workplace.

Students, on the brink of graduation, seized the opportunity to network with diverse business and faith leaders, gaining insights for navigating real-life decisions.

“When I came to understand the value of incorporating faith and work, it radically changed my perspective and solidified my decision to pursue a secular career. The vision for the summit was two-fold. First, to provide students and executives examples of how Christian virtue and business are complimentary. Second, to facilitate community building around these concepts. The positive sentiments from the summit are overwhelming,” Boh said.

Prof. Ken Sagendorf, Ph.D., the John J. Sullivan Endowed Chair for Free Enterprise at Regis University, added his perspective, reinforcing the importance of the Summit’s impact.

“In discussions with business leaders and our students, the notion of balancing profit-driven motives with community impact arises frequently. Some see profit as the domain of for-profit businesses, while community welfare is left to nonprofits. In our Jesuit Catholic university, we aim to bridge this gap by emphasizing both. The summit furthered this dialogue by exploring how businesses can achieve both objectives. Clear examples and insights from faith-influenced decisions were shared in real-time – an amazing experience!”

In addition, the event featured speakers including Tim Urban, Partner of Patmos, and a conversation between Geenens and Regis Catholic Studies Professor Michael Baxter, Ph.D.

“This summit that Regis hosted illuminates the profound intersection of faith and professional life, fostering dialogue that enriches both the individual and the community. This transformative event underscores the enduring value of integrating spirituality into the workplace, inspiring participants to elevate their endeavors with purpose, compassion and integrity,” said Baxter.

For Regis students who are about to graduate like Sophie Ricard, the conference came at a perfect time, allowing them to discern some of those real-life decisions.

“It was such a joy to be a part of the first-ever Sanctified at Work Summit at Regis!” said Ricard. “I loved meeting and listening to various professionals about what they’re passionate about and how they strive to bring their faith to work every day. This witness gives me hope for my generation, for our future, that together we can work towards sanctification and glorification of God!”

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