November 2018: Advent: A Time for Deepening Our Discovery and Appreciation for the Spirit’s Creative Presence In Our Lives

 this Issue

Opening Remarks

November 2018 
In this edition of Transforming Challenges, Senior Consultant Maureen Gallagher offers insights in to Advent in her article, ” Advent: A Time for Deepening Our Discovery and Appreciation for the Spirit’s Creative Presence In Our Lives.” 

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The Reid Group News

  • Maureen Gallagher facilitated a successful national meeting earlier this month in Chicago for AJ Gallagher (no relationship) focused on the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church and what steps can be taken to avoid such molestation in the future.
  • Tom Reid and John Reid completed a search for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. Anna Gallagher is the new Executive Director chosen by the CLINIC Board.
  • Maureen Gallagher completed her second contract with the National Shrine of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Chicago. She has now been hired for a 3rd contract.
  • John Reid and Tom Reid continue their leadership coaching relationships with various clients. 
  • The Reid Group is a strategic partner with Tryon Clear View Group, a cost reduction company that specializes in Purchase Services Audits where they identify, verify and recover billing errors, vendor overcharges which are refundable to organizations.  They then secure these reimbursements from the vendors.  In addition to telecommunication, copiers, waste management and utilities charges, they also audit postal services and credit card processing. The only fee paid by the client is a percentage of the actual savings.  The first two contracts secured by this strategic partnership are a college and a Catholic parish; we have received the first report of savings for one of these contracts which showed savings of $60,000 over the next five years in telecommunications alone.   If you are interested in this service, contact us at
  • Our Strategic Partner Joe Sankovich has developed an important resource for dioceses and parishes with cemeteries called TOOLBOX FOR PARISH CEMETERIES. For more information go to: Joe Sankovich, former director of cemeteries in the Archdiocese of Seattle, and owner of Sankovich & Associates since 1990, has developed an educational tool for parishes with their own Catholic cemeteries.  Directed to pastors, parish business managers, cemetery managers/sextons/superintendents, parish cemetery advisory board members and parish finance council members, the six hard copy manuals are formatted in the same fashion as the early diocesan teaching documents for the Second Vatican Council.  Sankovich waited until he had worked with/in more than 1,200 parish cemeteries in different areas of the United States, and conducted more than 100 seminars with pastors, parish and cemetery employees/volunteers, to organize and format these manuals.
  • The Reid Group is also a strategic partner with The Steier Group. The Steier Group is a national, capital campaign fundraising firm based in Omaha, Nebraska, with offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon and Texas. They provide nonprofits with customized campaign planning studies, guidance from a team of expert project managers and strategic insight designed to help our clients reach their fundraising goals. Contact Nic Prenger, Steier Group president, for more information about the firm’s services.

So as you look at your individual or organizational future, what are your challenges? Could you benefit from skilled support? Give us a call at 206-432-3565 or send us an e-mail to start transforming those challenges into opportunities.


Maureen Gallagher, Senior Consultant
As we prepare to celebrate Advent—the season of expectations, of joy, of rejoicing, of peace and of the acknowledgement that we are the recipients of “every spiritual blessing in the heavens,” and that we were chosen before the “foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:3-6), we realize anew how interconnected we are with the Spirit of all creation.
We have known important scientific concepts about the universe, about our solar system. Now, we can say for the first time we even have made devices that have touched Mars. This is one more indication about our intimacy with the created and evolving universe. While experts continue to reveal how we have changed and grown along with all other aspects of creation, there is still the question of how did it all begin. Many people of faith in the Judeo-Christian tradition especially, identify the Spirit, or the Spirit of the Living God as the root of all existence. What follows is divided into two parts. The first presents some examples of the Spirit’s presence from the Biblical Infancy Narratives; the second looks at the Great Spirit from a scientific perspective in the creation of the universe.
Reflecting on the Christmas story we discover insights about the Spirit’s “down to earth” presence in relation to the birth of Jesus. The references below will use stories of the birth of Jesus found in Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels, acknowledging that they were written for different groups and at least 10 years apart, approximately between 60 and 70 years after Christ died. We will reflect on these writings from the lens of faith as articulated by 20 thcentury theologian, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: “By reason of creation and even more the incarnation, nothing is profane for those who know how to see.” We will attempt to “see” the presence of the Spirit in the early stories about Jesus and in the cosmos.
What are some ways the Spirit of the Living God is both an expanding and a unifying factor in the birth narratives as described in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke?
The Spirit is seen:
  • By shepherds and their communion with the earth
  • By people of wealth and prestige, the kings from foreign lands
  • By the star leading those who are searching for meaning
  • By the birth of Jesus, which embraces the creative Spirit of God
  • By the birth that also gives us insights to recognize and be embraced by the Creative Spirit, the mystery of the presence of the Living God
  • By the energetic Spirit which supported the continuation of the journey, even though the family was very vulnerable (Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay in a foreign land, Bethlehem, and later Jesus and the family escaping to Egypt)
  • By all those who believed in the empowering Spirit to move toward oneness and unity (all the peoples—a light of revelation to the Gentiles)
  • By the narratives which point to the mystery of the Spirit to create, inspire, console and motivate humanity to build a better world—believing that “there is more to life than meets the eye”—and that “the child was filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him,” and that the “good news of great joy will be for all people.”
Note that the above images and examples while dating back to the first century are applicable today. The primary themes include: connection to the earth, inclusivity of all people, rich, poor, strangers, etc. The passages also highlight the power of light, unity, journey, vulnerability, the notion of mystery, as well as the penetration of the Spirt in life’s experiences.
Contemporary spirituality expands the revelation of the Spirit beyond, but not in opposition to the Biblical themes noted above. The Spirit is integrated into and the source of all creation. The Spirit is seen as a unifying force in the entire universe. German theologian Wolfhart links the Holy Spirit to a cosmic field force which makes the “effective presence of God in every single phenomenon intelligible.” He notes all “creatures participate in God through the Spirit.”
Another reputable theologian, Jurgen Moltmann, notes that where there is passion for life, there the Spirit of God is operating. The Spirit works through both the positive and the negative aspects of life including sickness, loss of loved ones, pain, etc. There the Spirit supports and invites those living with various kinds of grief to seek through agony and sorrow a rebirth that may enhance and unfold deeper aspects of life. It is the cycle of birth-death-rebirth (death resurrection cycle in Christian terms) where there is a creative energy life-force which we call the Great Spirit.
Scientists also embrace the mystery of the Spirit’s presence. Both Newton and Einstein acknowledge the force of the divine Spirit in creation, though neither one articulates the “personal presence” of the Spirit. Quantum Physics, in some circles acknowledges the presence of the Spirit; it rejects the image of God as a “patriarchal figurehead for whom power and control are deemed to be important.” Fr. Thomas Berry, an eco-scientist notes that “creation is the primary revelation of God for us.”
A reflection on the Spirit is appropriate as we begin Advent—the season where we prepare to celebrate the Spirit’s presence in the person of Jesus. Jesus invites us to share his life of the Spirit in a personal relationship with him, with one another, with all creation and the cosmic air we breathe. 
Advent is about seeing anew and acting to construct new beginnings, deepened relationships and to acknowledge our connections and interconnections with all creation—local, national, international, universal and cosmic. Happy Advent!

Maureen Gallagher is a Senior Partner with The Reid Group, a national consulting firm helping leaders and organizations transform challenges into opportunities to create a better world in the areas of Strategic Planning, Leadership Formation, Leadership Search, Fund Development, Conflict Resolution and Meeting Design and Facilitation.  For more information about The Reid Group, its programs and services, visit our website:

© 2017 The Reid Group 


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