With St. Joseph's help, a 'business guild' supports Minnesota Catholics

Small business owners, laborers, and job-seekers in Minnesota can now connect with fellow Catholics using modern technology- a website and social network - and a very ancient concept - a guild.

Jul 31, 2019

By Perry West
Small business owners, laborers, and job-seekers in Minnesota can now connect with fellow Catholics using modern technology- a website and social network - and a very ancient concept - a guild.

The St. Joseph Business Guild helps Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis by creating a spiritual and social network for employees and employers.

Roger Vasko, president and founder of the guild, told CNA that the goal of the project is to aid Catholic families. He said the idea began after discussions with parishioners over their financial concerns.

“Our mission is to support to the Catholic families by connecting Catholic business owners to workers and customers,” he said. “It became clear to me that Catholic families needed help.”

“The topic always seemed to come up of families struggling financially, whether it was inability to live on one income and raise a family, saving for a down payment for a house, or paying off college debt.”

Members of the guild must belong to one of the 200 parishes in the Minnesota archdiocese. Individuals or businesses pay a small yearly fee to have access to employment resources and spiritual support.

Since it began in March, the guild has reached nearly 60 members.

Through a website, member can review job opportunities, obtain employment information, post resumes on jobseeker boards, and network with other Catholics. Members will also have access to classes and mentoring opportunities.

Businesses belonging to the guild will be able to review resumes posted online and post employment opportunities. After an organization has signed up, it will also be placed in business directory available to anyone.

Vasko said the organization has opportunities for spiritual nourishment, including an annual retreat in December and four spiritual meetings a year. Those meetings will include Mass, networking time, food, and a speaker.

He said the guild is looking to expand its spiritual activities; the organization will soon work with a chaplain and four deacons who may provide spiritual direction to the members. The guild is also adding an online prayer board and a spiritual blog, which will be regularly updated by a group of priests.

Members are required to demonstrate proof of tithing and express compliance with the guild’s Catholic identity. During the application process, candidates will have to consent to a statement of values taken from the Catechism.

“Work should respect the worker since each person is made in the image of God: Work is for man, not man for work,” said Vasko, giving a few examples of the guild’s statement.

“Everyone should be able to draw from work the means of providing for his life and that of his family, and of serving the human community.”

The guild has several categories for its members, including business owners, sales people, entrepreneurs, and common members. A free membership is offered to nonprofits, parishes, and business professionals - people with hiring or purchasing powers. The membership fee ranges from $20-200.

Vasko said the guild is also a place for people to connect with a Catholic community and pursue careers more conducive to the Catholic faith.

“There are more and more people that are having trouble in the workplace with their faith or that they are uncomfortable in the workplace,” he said.

“We have people joining just for the community aspect. They are not necessarily looking for jobs; they want to meet other Catholics who are businessmen or just plain other Catholic men they can’t find at their parish.”

Bret Sutton, director of development at St. John the Baptist in New Brighton, is secretary for the organization. He told the Catholic Spirit that the project brings together Catholic ideals and work.

“We believe strongly in the dignity of the human person, entrepreneurship and strengthening the family,” he said.

“What I’m most excited to see is businessmen and women … bringing together these two powerful worlds — faith and business — to energize and rejuvenate not only our Church but (also) our greater society,” he added.--CNA

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