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Stokes Generously Supports, Reflects on Chapel Renewal

Aja and Pat Stokes

Pat and Aja Stokes are supporting the Chapel renewal initiative with a generous pledge to match $2 million in gifts made toward this effort. Pat, the former Chairman and CEO of Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., shares some of his own perspectives on faith and the importance of this mission-focused priority.

Who have been inspiring saints and heroes in your life?

As far as saints go, I was inspired by my namesake St. Patrick. After all, converting Ireland and driving the snakes out of Ireland is pretty inspiring, but now I hear that he is on the list of saints who may be more legend than fact. I do think that St. Paul is an inspiring figure. He started off in the wrong direction, but the Lord knocked him off his mule and suggested he straighten out his life.

He went on to become one of the most prolific spreaders of the gospel in the early Church. I think we can all learn from him that it is never too late to change direction for the good. I have no particular contemporary heroes, but I am always impressed by those who give their time in the service of others. Time is a precious commodity – we only have so much of it.

Why do you feel the Chapel renovation project is important for SLUH and the Church?

Education is very important. but without values it loses its focus. Having a career, raising a family and enjoying life are fine, but they need a greater purpose. I think having a chapel where students can be at peace with themselves and understand what makes them individuals will benefit both SLUH and the Church. There should always be a time and place to explore your relationship with God.

What inspired you to make the matching gift to SLUH?

Maybe it was the Holy Spirit with the assistance of Fr. Paul Sheridan, SJ. I have known Fr. Paul for more than 40 years. In that time I have seen him work tirelessly for others with a long period devoted to SLUH. He has raised money for facilities, financial aid, and done everything he could to make SLUH a better place. Lately I could see that he was focused on spirituality and the need for students to make their relationship with God the focus of their formative experience. So when he told me of his interest in renovating the Chapel, it was easy to say I would help.

What are your hopes and dreams for the students of SLUH?

High school is a great time for SLUH students. They enter as boys and graduate as young adults. It is a time of formation. It is not the end of learning, but it is a time when they form values and learn to think. The time they spend at SLUH will influence them for the rest of their lives. My hope is that they will seize the opportunity to become intellectually and spiritually well rounded. May they all go on in their lives to be persons for others.





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