Early on April 27, 2018, John Mooney passed to his glory. He, along with Louis Grams and Bud Rose, were the founders of Christians in Commerce. Louis Grams shares his memories of John and the origins of Christians in Commerce.
By Louis Grams
In the late seventies, I met John at a business conference at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio where we were both speakers. We ended up being roommates at the conference and hit it off instantly. Not long after that we were teamed once again for the same conference in Phoenix, Arizona.
By that time, Bud and I had laid out the core vision for what became Christians in Commerce and John wanted to know all about it. Once he did, he was on board, one hundred percent.
The three of us worked intensely over the next year and half to develop the plan and core content for Christians in Commerce. John owned and operated a successful chain of shoe stores in Arizona and California, and we often held our multi-day planning sessions in a simple but wonderful apartment above his store on State Street in Santa Barbara, California.
We were a team that loved being together. We loved each other. We all had a love for the Lord and a passion to see his love and power transform the marketplace. Our prayer times together were enthusiastic, loud and full of the power of the Holy Spirit. Our meetings were intense and exciting, but we were never so intense that we could not break to have fun.
In 1983, we launched CIC as a team, first in Minnesota, next in Arizona, and then in Indiana—our three home bases. We moved on from there to locations scattered across the country, working off of friendships and other connections we had. From time to time, we would step back as a team to evaluate what was happening and then plunge back into our travels and building efforts.
John was a man of action. He was about meeting people, engaging them and inviting them into what we were doing. His warmth and welcoming personality made others feel like old friends. His stories about encounters with people on airplanes and in a wide variety of other random locations are legendary.
The two of us traveled to Rome together as delegates to a Vatican conference of people in the world of business and commerce that was called to help Pope John Paul II prepare his encyclical on the laity which was released in December 1988.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) spoke to the conference a couple of times. One day, during a break, he came up to John and I in the hallway and said, “Ah, you are the Americans from the Christians in Commerce I believe.”
We were stunned he knew who we were, but he went on to tell us how important the work we were doing was and encouraged us to keep moving ahead.
As we aged and our ability to travel became more limited, we saw each other much less often, but the affection and care remained.
John’s passion for CIC did not fade. In these last years, he traveled less, but he worked to touch as many people and as many groups as he possibly could despite severe pain and weariness that constantly accompanied him in his battle with cancer.
A few weeks ago, John called to say, “Goodbye.” We couldn’t talk for long. His weakness was robbing him of the words that always came so easily, but we were able to affirm once more the love we had for each other, and to bid each other farewell.
I am thankful that I had the chance to know and work with John. I am thankful that we were able to seek and serve the Lord together.
Read: Please leave your own brief honoring of John in the comment section. We will share these comments later with John’s family.