by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism
Dr. Knight: Could you tell us about your background, where your came from, how you became a member of Holt Name parish? Do you have siblings?
Dr. Gordon: I grew up in Oak Lawn, Il, with one sister, Marilyn who died in 1998. There I attended St. Linus School and then was a graduate of the Charter Class of Marish High School. I became a lector at St. Linus Parish in 1967 while attending DePaul University where I earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in history and education. I was elected to the Board of Trustees of Moraine Valley Community College for two terms (1973-1977). In 1988 I was awarded a Ph.D. in history and psychology from Loyola University, and I also did post-graduate work in history at the University of Chicago. While still in college, I founded Imperial Tutoring and Education Corporation (1968) and later Imperial Corporate Training and Development (1979). Now I am the president of Imperial Consulting Corporation which I started in 1990.
In 1983 Elaine and I were married at Holy Name where she had been a parishioner since 1976. I immediately volunteered to be a lector and several years later became a Eucharistic minister. In 2010 I became a Minister of Care at Northwestern Hospital for Holy Name and as part of my ministry for the Knights of Malta into which I was also accepted in 2010.
Dr. Knight: Would you tell us something about your academic work? Can you bring your Catholic beliefs into this job?
Dr. Gordon: From 1979 to 2003 I taught in higher education at DePaul University (history, psychology), Loyola University (business), and NorthwesternUniversity (business). I am an author or co-author of 20 books in the subject areas of business, history, and education and numerous articles.
After 2003 my wife and I began spending the winter months in Palm Desert, California where my wife’s family had long been parishioners at the SacredHeart Church. As part of their Bible study program, I was invited to develop presentations on the history of the Papacy and the Catholic Church. I subsequently was asked to participate in the RICA program there giving presentations on Church history and current issues facing the Church. In 2019 I began giving these presentations for Holy Name’s RCIA program. Also the Catholic Chicago program on Relevant Radio has offered me the opportunity to share this information with a wider Chicago-area audience.
Dr. Knight: You seem to have a gift about the Church and the best way to bring Christ to others. Could you tell us about that?
Dr. Gordon: To understand the Catholic faith, we need to know its history. This always has interested me as the story of the Church has unfolded over the last 2,000 years. The philosophic and theological basis of our faith is also reflected in the historical development of the Roman Catholic Church. People can better understand the Church’s beliefs if they can follow the lives of the historic figures and events that define what it means to be a Catholic.
Dr. Knight: As a lector at the Cathedral, what stands out for you?
Dr. Gordon: Parishioners have heard the scriptures proclaimed many times before. So when the lectors proclaim them, they must add to the best of their abilities, greater clarity and emphasis to produce a real impact upon their listeners.
Dr. Knight: Do societal changes effect/affect the devotion to the Eucharist?
Dr. Gordon: Every decade offers new challenges to the faith of Catholics. Each generation of Church religious and lay leaders are called upon to frame the Church’s dogmas and doctrines in ways that help ordinary people sustain their devotion to the Eucharist. They must emphasize that the Eucharist will help to provide them with the strength to cope with the unending challenges of day-to-day existence and to recognize the shallowness of today’s popular culture
Dr. Knight: What influences do you see manifest that keep people away from Christ and His Church?
Dr. Gordon: Post-Modernism is attempting to undermine the importance of “truth” as defined by revelation in the scriptures and the dogmas based on them. Popular culture through its blatant materialism and focus on physical pleasure undermines spirituality based on devotion to God and service to others that is at the heart of the Church’s teaching. Rejection of any objective truth is leading to the deterioration of moral and religious standards of conduct.
Dr. Knight: How is the Catholic Church helping young people to stay connected to Christ and His Church?
Dr. Gordon: The spiritual education of children, adolescents, and young adults remains the front line in the battle against materialism and indifference to morality. The more the Church can demonstrate the value of the Catholic way of living to young people, the more certain that the Church’s message of salvation will be heard throughout contemporary society. Helping each generation rise up to the challenge of nurturing the gift of faith they received in Baptism is a never-ending battle.
Dr. Knight: How do you see the people of Holy Name working on Evangelization? Did your experiences at other places help this?
Dr. Gordon: Holy Name Cathedral has the big advantage of drawing upon leaders of a wide variety of faith-based organizations from across the Archdiocese of Chicago. Their programs support Evangelization to very diverse communities. I have also seen other parishes in Chicago and California where the local pastors support the formation of many faith-based groups. The clergy’s leadership is essential, but mobilizing lay leadership and talent is the most productive way of increasing Evangelization to both Catholics and non-Catholics.
Dr. Knight: What makes a good homily for you so that the priest connects with the congregation, what particular strategies come to mind in this regard?
Dr. Gordon: The laity are not theologians or philosophers. The most effective 10-to-15 minute sermons are those that take abstract or familiar scripture passages and present them in human terms. People are interested in stories. When a priest or deacon can tell a true to life story that applies these lessons to the contemporary world, people will listen. Humor is important. A good homily is a surprise package that when opened produces understanding, awareness, and hope.
Dr. Knight: What are the most difficult responsibilities you have had in your chosen vocation? What are some of the most pleasant responsibilities?
Dr. Gordon: This is a difficult question to answer as I have done many things during my lifetime. Communication has been a central focus of my life. It has become increasingly difficult to reach people by telephone. Many people are using technology to isolate themselves from personal interaction with others. I am very gratified when people tell me that a conversation or one of my presentations or classes has provided them with insights that have been valuable in their professional or spiritual lives.
Dr. Knight: What mantra do you have that you would like people to remember?
Dr. Gordon: Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance and the grace of God.
Dr. Knight: What other issues would you like to bring up in regard to being a Gospel person in the world today?
Dr. Gordon: We need each other. Don’t be afraid to reach out and communicate. Conversation helps all of us deal with the unknowns in our lives and brings people closer to God when they perceive how little control they really have over events that have an impact on our lives. Expect the unexpected except for God’s grace on the uneven road to eternal salvation.