One of the many amazing things about being a part of inRegister magazine is to have the privilege of meeting and sharing stories about extraordinary people in our community. Sometimes the people who are doing the hardest work, like putting others first and never thinking of themselves, do not want to be in the spotlight, often avoiding attention or giving the credit to others.
So it is with Father Than Vu, a small man with a winning smile and a personality that breathes love and affection with every encounter. This year he celebrates 30 years of dedicated service to the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge. Numerous times each week he glides up the aisle at St. Aloysius Catholic Church with Ghandi-like reverence, so deeply committed to his parishioners and to speaking the Gospel that it is easy to forget he is battling cancer every waking moment. Until you notice someone in the congregation at his side to gently take his hand as he steadies himself to make it up the three steps to the altar.
Father Than does not read the Gospel—he speaks it. From his heart and from memory. It is a moving thing to witness, especially when it is a Sunday with a particularly long Gospel passage. His sermons always start with a (good) joke and end with tying in purpose and meaning to the Gospel reading. Father Than never forgets a name. And when he speaks to you, whether it is one-on-one or from the altar, it is as though there is not another soul in the room.
He embodies a bit of counsel attributed to St. Francis: “Preach the Gospel always, use words when necessary.”
Father Than draws his inspiration from Christ and, it seems, his gentle, peace-loving nature from Mahatma Gandhi. Only through truth can untruth be vanquished. Only through love can hatred be quenched. This is the path of Christ, and in our own times, that of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Father Than Vu.
Rolfe McCollister Jr. and Julio Melara, the owners and leaders of Business Report, 225 and inRegister magazines, have taught, motivated, and challenged me and many others who have had the privilege of being part of their dynamic, caring company, Louisiana Business Inc. About 16 years ago, I walked out of my first meeting with Rolfe, who had agreed to give advice to a local nonprofit organization I was helping. I had pages of notes filled with his amazing recommendations. Rolfe has a gift for 360-degree thinking and the rare ability to think of the smallest details and see the big picture all at once. Around that same time I met Julio, who had generously agreed to speak at a hotel association luncheon I was coordinating. He inspired everyone in the room with his life story and his dedication to growing and learning. Both Rolfe and Julio live every moment by the motto “If you want to be great, you have to fall in love with the process.”
Julio says that some people come to our company for a reason, some for a season and some for a lifetime. It is now time for me to move on to a new season in my life, from covering the great work of nonprofits in inRegister to going out and doing the work as I start a new chapter of my career at Our Lady of the Lake Foundation.
Rolfe and Julio have chosen our talented editor, Ashley Sexton Gordon, to assume the new role of Editor & Publisher for inRegister.
I am so grateful to Rolfe, Julio, Ashley and the team at LBI for an amazing 12 years—and to you, our readers for your support, ideas and kind feedback. You are inRegister.