By Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M.
Last month, Pope Francis made a prayer intention “for small businesses,” and he asked for this intention to be observed throughout all of August to highlight the importance of these ventures in the face of growing economic difficulties. He prayed for “stores, workshops, cleaning businesses, transportation businesses, and so many others. The ones that don’t appear on the world’s richest and most powerful lists, and despite the difficulties, they create jobs, fulfilling their social responsibility.”
Pope Francis highlighted the creative force at work in so many small businesses and their ability “to contribute solutions from the bottom up.” He noted that small businesses have made it possible for society to function throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and asked for prayers “for small and medium-sized businesses, hard hit by the economic and social crisis, so they may find ways to continue operating, and serving their communities.”
These are such important words delivered by our Holy Father after a period when one in four companies lost half of their sales during the global pandemic. Small businesses so often form the backbone of our communities and are run by people who dedicate themselves to providing a service that enriches our lives. These endeavors often give our communities their unique character, and we should continue to pray for the success of creative people in our midst who take the risk to bring their talents to the marketplace on their own terms.
We can also invoke some interesting saints in praying for the success of small to midsized entrepreneurs, saints who demonstrate how personal character can manifest itself in the lives of small business owners in ways that transform people’s lives. Consider the story of Saint Peter Wu Guosheng, an 18th century hotel owner in the Guangxi region of China. He was known for having a loud and assertive personality, and when he heard the story of Christ, he began to utilize that assertiveness to share the Gospel with as many people as possible, turning his hotel into the center of a thriving Christian community, until finally being martyred for his faith.
Another martyr was Blessed Salvador Huerta Gutierrez, who was called the “magician of cars” and went from a state of poverty to owning his own business. He became known as the best mechanic in Guadalajara, Mexico. Writing about entrepreneur saints for Aleteia, Meg Hunter-Kilmer says of Blessed Salvador, “He saw it as his job to form his employees as men and Christians as well as to direct the business, and modeled Christian life by visiting the Blessed Sacrament every morning on his way to work.” A father of 12, Blessed Salvador was martyred in the Cristero Wars in 1927, along with his brother, Blessed Ezequiel Huerta Gutierrez, who was the father of 10 and a successful entrepreneur in his own right in his pursuits as a musician.
The small business world abounds with entrepreneurs who carry their faith in Christ with them in all they do. So, let’s continue to pray for great leaders to emerge within our communities to share their talents and to demonstrate the full expression of what it means to be human. As Pope Francis says, “with courage, with effort, with sacrifice, they invest in life, creating well-being, opportunities, and work.” And let’s support the creative instincts of those in our midst who dare to venture forth in these challenging economic times, bringing goods and services into our communities in a spirit of generosity and hope in the future.
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