Many of our sponsors probably first heard of CFCA while sitting in a pew during Mass. Those priests were at your parish because a small group of dedicated staff members worked with your pastor to arrange a CFCA weekend presentation.
Parish contact representatives for CFCA reach out to Catholic parishes across the United States. The parish contact team, comprised of nine devoted people, works out of the Kansas headquarters and a Florida satellite office. This week, in a four-part series, Jim McConnell and Cathy Cazares will introduce you to the daily triumphs and disappointments of the parish contact representative.
By Jim McConnell, parish contact representative
I spent 33 years in technical sales in the corporate world before coming to CFCA. Working as an outbound caller at CFCA has given me a different perspective on what it means to ìsell someoneî on an idea. Here our efforts begin and end with prayer. We meet once a week to pray as a group. We ask for Godís assistance in opening the hearts of the pastors that we contact, asking for permission to visit their parish to present the work of CFCA. These prayers are a powerful source of the energy that we need to make the calls.
The parish contact team praying for successful phone calls. From left to right: Vicki, Al, Joan, Cathy, Jim and Adrian
I am encouraged by the kind words of the people that I work with from other departments. They recognize how difficult it is to make call after call every day. That acknowledgment gives me hope. Most people would acknowledge that they wouldnít want to do what we do, with comments like, ìI could never do thatî or ìI admire your determination, I wouldnít be able to keep calling if I got turned down.î
God gives us all unique charisms. The members of the call team have all been blessed with the ability to handle rejection and keep going. Each of us has a different way of motivating ourselves to make the next call. The wonderful ladies from the call team in Florida who are much more experienced at this have taught us a lot. They tell us ì’No’ means no today.î And they are right: I have called pastors a year after they turned us down, and they have invited us to come to their parish.
We always keep in mind the integrity of CFCA and what it means to protect that image. As a sales person, you are always trying to find different ways to overcome objections. As one representing CFCA to the Catholic community in America, we want to do everything possible to show the priests and parishioners that, above all else, CFCA is a worldwide community of compassion and service, as our mission statement explains.
We are working for the children, youth and elderly and keeping that in mind helps us stay focused. Being human, we complain if the work area is too hot or too cold. We get discouraged and tired. But, all it takes is to look at the face of one of those waiting to be sponsored or of the sponsored individuals we have helped in the pictures around the office, and we are reminded of how important the work is.
Calling busy parish pastors to get our presenter priests invited to share the message of CFCA is not easy, but it is a labor of love. And when we are able to ring the bell indicating a priest has been invited, we celebrate with great joy knowing that we did the work, but God accomplished it.
This is the first of four entries in the parish contact series. Read more here:
Part 2: Learning is an evolution
Part 3: ‘Lord, … help me do your work’
Part 4: Every time a bell rings, a child gets closer to sponsorship