McDonald’s Franchisee Emphasizes Necessity of Faith
Andrew Miller, Tower Staff
November 2, 2012
Filed under News
John Abbate, a Catholic businessman who owns 23 McDonald’s franchises in California, spoke about the dangers of separation of faith and business on Tuesday.
Abbate began his speech by talking about his experience in business before he saw the importance of integrating his faith. He talked about how, as the owner of an office building, he had the opportunity to lease to Planned Parenthood. He determined that it would not make a difference since he wanted a business with a strong balance sheet. After agreeing to lease with Planned Parenthood, he discussed the decision with his wife. She was shocked by this, considering his religious conviction, and helped him realize how compartmentalized his life had become. The next day, Abbate called the broker and told him that Planned Parenthood would not be able to lease in his office building.
He argued that the separation of work and faith has become dangerous in today’s business world.
“Money, prestige, power. I win, you lose” is the motto on which American businessmen now base their lives, Abbate said. He argued that many never question their faith, but also never live it out in their lives.
Abbate said this type of attitude leads to a very base form of happiness and fleeting fulfillment. He argued that this minimalism in faith is not enough, that simply going to Sunday mass is not enough. Abbate advocated applying business knowledge to life in a holistic fashion with a lifestyle of faith, family, and work.
“You have to know who you are and what you want to represent. It’s not about the product, it’s about the vision” said Abbate. But for him, it was about more than simply having a vision of how the business could be successful. There are rights and duties associated with being a Catholic, and he made it clear that these should be integrated into business.
There are three principles necessary for a successful business just as there are three important traits of a successful person, Abbate said. Businesses certainly need production and service systems to support their products, but also need the right employees and quality training systems for those employees.
“People can be our greatest assets or our greatest liabilities,” Abbate said.
As for the person, he said that prayer, sacraments and family are needed in order to maintain a healthy life.
“Honesty and consistency are needed for any relationship,” he said.
To further his point about the necessity of a strong family in modern society, Abbate said that the biggest issue facing the world today is not the presidential election or the events in Libya. The biggest issue is the disintegration of the family.
He then provided statistics to support this, including that 85 percent of youth in prison come from an incomplete household, and marriage drops childhood poverty by 82 percent.
Abbate followed this by giving the audience of future entrepreneurs and businesspersons some advice for how to operate as Catholics in the business world. He said that happiness is directly related to the level of one’s self-discipline and integrity. In order to create stronger and more lasting happiness, one must find deeper motivation and have selfless vision, he said.
Abbate then advocated for Catholics to try learning more about their faith. Abbate said that less than 1 percent of Catholics will read a Catholic book in any given year, and that faith must be understood in order to live it.
He then offered advice for integrating faith and business. He argued that Catholic leaders in the business community have to understand their co-workers and play positive roles in partnerships and communities.
“It’s not good enough to be a faithful Catholic and live in a bubble,” said Abbate. He explained that there are 73 million Catholics in America and 1.2 billion in the world. As a group, Catholics help feed and clothe more people than any other organization in world. But Abbate said Catholics must tell their own story and not allow the secular media to do this instead. He argued that the mindset of allowing the media to distort the message of the Church must be stopped through proactivity.
Finally, Abbate told his listeners to ask God what His will is for them.
“Try it once a day, for 30 days and it will change your life,” he said.