Mark Shriver, political figure and President of Save the Children, spoke at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts on the importance of faith, hope and love, and how these qualities have fueled his career fighting for social justice.
The talk was held on March 16, the tenth anniversary of Fairfield University’s Center of Faith, and was part of the Open Visions Forum series.
Following his talk, the forum was then open to the panel led by Dr. Jocelyn Boryczka, Dr. Philip Eliasoph, Ro-Anne Thomas ‘17 and Jaimee Downes ‘18.
According to their website, Save the Children is a globally active, non-profit organization that promotes children’s rights, provides relief and helps support children in developing countries.
Shriver wrote the book, “A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver,” after the death of his father.
Goodness and the act of being humble was a major theme discussed in his book. “Goodness meant something different than greatness,” Shriver said. After his father’s death, Shriver noted many people telling him how good of a man his father was. Shriver said, “The news said my dad was a great man, but what touched me was the comments of goodness from people that weren’t big shots.”
Through his father, Shriver learned how to be optimistic in his life, which has been the foundation of his work with Save the Children.
Shriver spent time with two ministers, as well as one of Pope Francis’ best friends in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The two ministers practiced in churches located in poor areas of Buenos Aires.
Shriver noted that these ministers preached the word of God with a smile on their faces each and every day despite difficulties. This positive attitude inspired Shriver to do the same through his work with Save the Children.
Shriver concluded his talk by discussing his mother-in-law who is dying from pancreatic cancer. “She never complains about anything. On FaceTime with the kids, when we asked how she was doing, she said, ‘I wish you were here with me,’” Shriver said.
Shriver used these personal stories to explain where his compassion and motivation for social justice developed. He linked all these stories to faith and encouraged the members of the audience that everyone can make a difference in some way.
Juniors Hayley Soulier and Molly Powers reflected on Shriver’s message. Powers said, “I like how he was able to connect with the audience on a personal level. He used stories to explain his message and I felt his passion and honesty.”
Soulier added, “This talk was required for our nursing class, so at first I did not expect much, but Mark Shriver was really convincing and powerful in his message.”
Dr. Eliasoph, founder and director of the Open Visions Forum, spoke of the impact Shriver had on his audience. “Even though Mr. Shriver only spent 90 minutes on stage as part of the Student Open Visions Forum program, his impact was nothing less than a lightning bolt. With exceptional humility and modesty, he demonstrated in word and deed his unstinting devotion to promoting social and economic justice.”
He encouraged the audience to take advantage of the opportunities to get involved in the community. Shriver emphasized the privilege everyone has to make a difference, regardless of how big or small the difference is. Shriver summarized this message by saying, “Democracy is a contact sport, get engaged.”
According to Downes, Shriver was able to link his personal experiences, both in the political and non-profit world, back to faith and family roots.
“I loved how Mark Shriver always redirected all of his answers back to his faith and family,” Downes said. “He also talked a lot about how important it is to give back to our community through leadership, education, and service by putting our Jesuit values to work in our daily lives. I agree with what he said how small deeds shouldn’t go unnoticed because they are just as important.”