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The Christophers: Being A Christopher

Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M.,

The Christophers’ Board of Directors


Father James Keller, M.M., wrote, “The Gospels reveal how our Lord was ever on the move, not merely to enjoy Himself but always with the hope and prayer that as He moved among the people, He would reach some who could be reached in no other way.” What a poignant characterization of Christ’s ministry, which began at around 30 years of age, when His life became devoted to seeking interaction with those in need of His presence and message.

When we take the whole of Christ’s life, from infancy to adulthood, we see a balance between formation and outreach. It is a balance we all need in our lives, but we must always remember that the value of our formation is measured by how it prepares us to go out into the world and give of ourselves to others.

Of Christ’s ministry, Father Keller writes, “His was the loving purpose of bringing God to men and men to God. He went to dinners, to weddings, to all sorts of gatherings. He engaged in conversation with all types of persons in all sorts of places. And the people flocked to Him because He first went to them.”

This spirit of generosity is at the heart of what it means to be a Christopher, and it is the approach to life that inspired Father Keller to start The Christophers back in 1945. In the latest installment of a video series I’ve been working on, I discuss what it means to be a Christopher, a word derived from the Greek Christoforos, which translates to Christ-bearer. Being a Christopher is about following Christ. It’s about reaching out to others with a spirit of generosity. And it is about recognizing the gifts bestowed upon us and utilizing those gifts to make the world a better place.

Our pamphlet on Being a Christopher tells the story of a moment in Father Keller’s life that inspired him to start The Christophers organization. It occurred at the Metropolitan Opera House when he found himself standing in a completely darkened auditorium and suddenly someone lit a match. Recalling that moment, Father Keller wrote: “The sight of that tiny flame made an indelible impression on me. Insignificant as it was, it was greater than the darkness. All that was needed to banish the darkness completely was to multiply that flicker of light.”

This moment might be seen as a microcosm of what it means to follow Christ. We must first have the insight to recognize the light of God’s truth and its ability to bring change to even the darkest corners of our world. Then, we must take up the challenge to do our part to bring about that change. Each of us is gifted in unique ways, and we are called to cultivate those gifts and put them in service to God and others. When we do that, we are joining Christ in bringing His light into the world. As Father Keller once wrote, “The presence of even one Christopher in any environment is a blessing, a channel of grace, a step in the right direction—like a tiny pinpoint of light that is greater than the encircling darkness.”

So, let’s cast our nets wide and encourage all the faithful to recommit to being Christophers, to recommit to following Christ in every aspect of our lives, and let’s look for opportunities to invite those who do not yet know Christ to discover His gentle and healing ways.


For free copies of the Christopher News Note BEING A CHRISTOPHER, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail:

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