Diocesan News

Franciscan Brother Promotes Using Goodness to Change the World

Brother Cellini with his students from St. Francis College, and holding up his book. (Photo: Gregory Cellini)

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Gregory Cellini spent 30 years working in the pharmaceutical industry; after being told he was to be laid off, he turned to God. In reflection and prayer, he found the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, and transformed his life into one of meaning, faith, and giving. 

Now, Brother Cellini, OSF, is sharing how others can transform their own lives within their careers in his recently published inspirational book, “Transform Yourself — Transform the World: A Franciscan View of Career” 

Success, as defined in this book, is simple: “It has nothing to do with personal success and everything to do with maximizing contribution.” 

That was the struggle, he said, of being “in the wrong place for all those years.” He realized he was discontented and limited in the contributions he could make to the world. 

The book encourages readers to recognize their inherent strengths and “goodness,” and through their self-awareness transform themselves into an individual who can best transform the world around them. 

“They see their strengths. They see their personality. They discover what their life purpose is. They uncover their values, and they see a whole lot of good now inside of themselves,” Brother Cellini told The Tablet. “Then they’re motivated to utilize that good, to share the good, and to contribute to transforming a world that is desperately in need of their good.” 

Part of the reason Brother Cellini, 63, began writing this book in 2018 was to fill an unmet need. When he searched “Franciscan view of career” online, he couldn’t find anything. 

He has spent years investigating the connection on his radio show, “Thank God for Mondays,” — which airs every Saturday at 8:30 a.m. on 89.5 FM — and at St. Francis College, where he serves as the director of the Office of Mission, Ministry and Interfaith Dialogue. 

There, he teaches the “Franciscan Career Transformation” course, where he shares how to look at careers and promotions following the Franciscan charism. 

“It has nothing to do with me. It’s this darn Holy Spirit,” Brother Cellini said. “I am able to bring these [ideas] to the table because of this 30-year-career in pharmaceuticals. These are ideas that probably someone who’s been in religious life their whole life would not come across or think of.”

The day he was told he was to be laid off was May 5, 2005 — a date solidified in his memory as his “conversion moment.” 

“That night, when I went to church, I was the acolyte. I literally prostrated myself in front of the tabernacle, when the priests were distributing Communion to everybody else,” Brother Cellini recalled. “I looked right in that tabernacle and I said, ‘God, I’ve screwed this up enough. You take it over.’ That was my conversion moment. And here I am.” 

Prior to this moment, he said, he had made his whole life about him, and it got him nowhere. “I had to be totally vulnerable and say to God that it’s for you.” 

He was told about one year before he was laid off to prepare for it, and began taking career coaching sessions provided by his company through Gallup. His coach — who he now has a long-lasting friendship with — suggested that he consider a vocation, given the results of a strengths assessment. He notes now, with a chuckle, that “we have the Holy Spirit to blame” for his conversion to the brotherhood; of the 18 career coaches available through Gallup, his was a former Franciscan sister. 

She gave him “homework,” to visit three religious congregations. The third, the Fransciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, resonated with him. 

“I remember going home that night and calling my mom, telling her, ‘Mom, this just feels right,’ ” he said. 

“I don’t want anyone to make the mistakes that I did. I want people to know right from college who they are and what’s in their heart. Instead of operating from the head, to operate from the heart, and really pursue their dreams,” Brother Cellini said. “To see the good, and to utilize their good to maximize their contribution to transform a world in need of their good.” 

Now, Brother Cellini is looking to make October “Franciscan Month” to inform people of the life of St. Francis, who has “this amazing story, that not enough people know. 

“There’s a lot of people, including me, who thought Francis had this perfect life. Not knowing he was a prisoner of war, the circumstances that he grew up with, and the separation from his father. All of these things, the struggles that he had,” Brother Cellini said. 

After a student noted it following one of his classes, Brother Cellini feels that the teachings of St. Francis are more applicable today than when he walked the earth. 

“We need Francis more today,” he said, “than they needed Francis 800 years ago.”