Christendom alumni have gone on to start successful businesses in a wide range of spaces—from construction, to IT, to government contracting, to marketing, just to name a few. Though the types of businesses alumni have started are diverse, what they have in common is leadership that insists on ethical business practices. Alumni are saying no to the dog-eat-dog mindset of doing business, and instead are treating employees and customers with dignity and care.
From creating positive corporate environments, to treating customers fairly while providing valuable services, Christendom alumni are positively affecting the culture and showing that honesty really is the best policy.
Alumni Patrick Weinert, Joe Long, Tony Bodoh, and Sean Garvey are several examples of alumni who are running thriving businesses and doing meaningful work through their leadership. They all believe that their Christendom education has been indispensable as they started and continue to lead their successful businesses.
Patrick Weinert ’98 started The Money Mission LLC in 2017, a financial coaching business that assists military service members and veterans with their financial goals. After a 20-year career with the United States Marines, Weinert was inspired to start his business, having observed that military members and veterans have specific financial needs that were not being served.
Weinert’s business is meeting a real need in the market and is helping many active and veteran military members achieve financial freedom. According to Weinert, this has been made possible by the formation he received at Christendom. Weinert regularly draws upon his Christendom education, relying on the critical thinking and problem-solving skills he gained during college; and most importantly, finding inspiration in his faith.
“Christendom’s spiritual formation and education were fundamental in helping me establish and run a business,” shared Weinert. “The formation in the faith gives you priorities, the prayer and sacraments give you the spiritual fuel, and the education gives you the knowledge on how to work in the market, determine what the market needs, be willing to pivot in order to remain relevant to community needs, and have the perseverance to see the business through to success.”
According to Weinert, his Christendom education has given him the tools to think critically about how his personal expertise and experiences could be used to solve real problems and fill gaps in the market.
“Christendom has had a major impact on how I run my business because it gave me the guidance to realize that the market doesn’t always know what it wants,” Weinert remarked. “As a business leader, you have to have a conversation with the market to discover what it wants and needs.”
In addition to having the mental tools to succeed as a business leader, Weinert believes that Christendom strengthened his faith greatly, helping him integrate Catholicism into his daily life as well as his business.
“Even though I have many customers and employees who are not Catholic,” he shared, “I strive to act in their best interests, and hopefully, through that, encourage them to develop their relationship with Christ.”
The faith of alumnus Joe Long ’12 also plays a large role in his company, Pro Rome, which specializes in organizing European group travel, especially Catholic pilgrimages and high school summer programs in Rome. Through these programs and pilgrimages, Long hopes to inspire a deeper appreciation for the faith and “show Americans the best of Rome.”
Long participated in Christendom’s Junior Semester in Rome in 2010, which played an enormous role in his decision to start Pro Rome. Through tangibly experiencing the history and splendor of the Church during that semester, Long’s desire to return to Rome and share the pilgrimage experience with others took root. After graduating in 2012, he attained Italian citizenship and moved to the Eternal City, immersing himself in Rome’s life, history, and culture. He earned an M.A. in church history, studied the ins and outs of the tourism industry, and just two years after graduating from college, founded Pro Rome.
In the years since, Long has continually drawn upon his Christendom education in his work. As he describes it, he tries to create tours and pilgrimages that instill the “Catholic worldview” he gained while at Christendom. “The Catholic and classical mind seeks to make sense of things, and my Christendom education gave me a thoughtful and universal understanding of the world that I seek to instill in our pilgrims and students,” Long stated. “In my business this translates into building itineraries with purpose, journeys that really seek to engage and transform the individual through a variety of different experiences—all of which shed a bigger and brighter light on the Catholic worldview.”
While his educational background constantly comes into play as he plans tours and pilgrimages, he believes that the moral formation he received most deeply affects how he runs his business. “Hands down, the most important aspect of Christendom’s entire educational approach is the moral formation. It permeates everything we did there, and I thank God every day for it,” he declared. “The moral man is just, and I strive to act justly in every aspect of my business, from paying fair wages and creating fair pricing, to giving each and every client my utmost respect and attention. Without morality, life is just a rat race, an anxious pursuit of more and more.”
Long is an excellent example of a graduate who has taken what he gained at Christendom and seeks to share it with others. “I really do believe that everyone is an entrepreneur at heart. Most people just don’t know it,” Long continued. “The liberal arts formation, without a doubt, advances and sharpens that innate human capacity to create. It definitely helped me. It’s no surprise that many of my Christendom colleagues now run their own businesses.”
Sean Garvey ’93 is among those fellow graduates who are running a successful business of their own. After founding and selling two IT firms, Garvey decided to start an executive consulting firm called Virgil Advisory Services. This firm helps businesses bring their ideas and intended missions to fruition.
“The primary challenge that faces most businesses is not a lack of good ideas, or a lack of market opportunity,” said Garvey. “It is people, process, and culture. My company helps build an organization and shape it to achieve its mission.”
According to Garvey, he regularly draws upon the intellectual and moral formation he received at Christendom, and the critical thinking skills he gained have been a clear asset throughout his career. Moreover, he attributes his current success to the understanding of the human person, proper philosophy of man, and understanding of interpersonal relationships he acquired at Christendom. With these tools at hand, Garvey’s firm instructs businesses how to create a company culture based on trustworthiness and virtue.
“In my experience, culture is the most important—and most neglected—asset a company has,” he said. “And culture is, in essence, the values your organization exhibits via the infinite number of interactions it partakes in every day, be they between team members, between the company and its clients, between the company and its vendors, partners, etc.”
Garvey encourages his clients to form relationships with clients, and make deals that are mutually beneficial, rejecting the common notion that business deals must result in a winner and a loser. Moreover, Garvey’s firm advises businesses to prioritize honest and ethical business practices.
“Being an implicitly trustworthy person is far more important and lasting than being a tough negotiator,” he explained. Like Garvey,
Tony Bodoh ’97 has also launched a consulting firm, Tony Bodoh International, a customer experience consultancy. TBI helps businesses apply the scientific research related to human experiences, emotions, and decision making to deepen customer relationships and help businesses grow. In addition to serving as CEO of TBI, Bodoh is actively involved as an owner, partner, or board member in several other businesses and nonprofits. He is also an author, speaker, and podcast host, and his content has helped many small businesses to grow.
For Bodoh, helping others achieve their goals is immensely fulfilling work. “One of the greatest skills that my Christendom education instilled in me was learning how to learn, which includes the abilities to unlearn and relearn,” he said. “Christendom’s education and environment exposed me to truths that challenged what I believed when I first arrived, which helped me see that in order to come to the truth, I would often have to ‘unlearn.’ In today’s rapidly transforming world, the ability to unlearn and relearn is at the heart of resilience—for the person and the organization.”
In addition, Bodoh believes his Christendom education gave him a deep appreciation for the value of human creativity and labor at all levels, allowing him to work effectively with employees who work on the front lines, all the way up to CEOs. For Bodoh, the education and formation he received at Christendom have been a catalyst for not only his personal success as a business leader, but the success of many other small business owners as well.
Wienert, Long, Garvey, and Bodoh are several examples of alumni entrepreneurs who are integrating their Catholic faith and the principles they learned at Christendom into their work as business leaders. Learning to think critically and morally through the study of the liberal arts is great preparation for the future entrepreneur. The world needs business leaders who are formed morally and have a proper understanding of the human person. Th is is why Christendom graduates are making waves in a whole host of fields—proof positive that studying the Catholic liberal arts is great preparation for a successful career and a life well-lived.