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Mary Jo Gillilland - God’s presence in the workplace led her through difficult times

First Female CEO of Liturgical Commission Publishings

Q: How was your faith the foundation of your role as CEO of Liturgical Commission Publishings?

A: In so many ways my faith provided that touchstone – that certainty of God’s presence in this workplace – that led me through the difficult times. Faith and trust were behind every decision that needed to be made when responsible for publishing the words of authors attempting to break open the Word of God. I knew that what my authors wrote would touch the hearts of exactly those who needed to hear them because it was God who delivered the message.

Q: Is there a person who inspired you along the way?

A: There are so many people who come to mind when thinking about this question. As I reflect on my many years with Liturgical Publishings, I can now see a pattern unfolding in the shape of a large puzzle where all the pieces are perfectly fitting together. Every piece of the puzzle representing a stepping stone: Catholic education led to a job in the legal field which led to marriage and children, which led to a sales career which led to a chance meeting with Bishop James Sullivan, who thought I had the right combination to manage the company.

Q: Was there a defining moment in my ministry?

A: We had a standing joke among all staff that just before our books were to go to the printer something would always go wrong. A proofreader would get sick or a printer break down or a water pipe freeze or the furnace malfunction. We came to expect it and decided that the devil was throwing up roadblocks! One year we asked 52 bishops to each write a Sunday homily and titled the year, “Our Shepherds Speak.” When the first issue went to the printer we got a phone call that something was wrong with the copy. There were blank spaces on almost all the pages.  When we checked the copy, the word GOD was missing and replaced by three blank spaces on every page. Just one of many defining moments!

Q: What would you tell your younger self about not giving up on achieving your goals?

A: I would tell my younger self to not sweat the small stuff; that every moment spent stressing and worrying over things out of your control is a massive waste of time and energy. I would tell my younger self that it is okay to change your goals as you mature and your life takes new paths.  I would tell my younger self to always look forward for that new challenge and then reach for it.