By Tim Von Dohlen

New Beginnings, Becoming an Epiphany, and Fun with Family

January 15, 2019

Here’s hoping your Christmas and start of the New Year has been wonderful with you surrounded by family and friends. Last year, I offered you some 17 recommendations for success in personal and business activities. This year I want to focus on 3:

  1. Dedicate your work (business and family) to the glory of God starting each day in prayer.
  2. Live your faith in your work and the workplace.
  3. Make your life joyful by being friendly with a smile.

Apply the words of St. John Paul II, “Love is never defeated” and “From now on it is only through a conscious choice and through a deliberate policy that humanity can survive.”

This is no time for us to be on the sidelines

Each of us must get into the game. Look around you, open your eyes and ears to what is going on in your family, your community, your state, your country and your world. Things are not just changing, things are swirling – in many cases out of control. You have to make your place in each of those locations and nobody should do it for you.

Unfortunately, social media and television will push us blindly along the path the people behind these outlets choose, but only if you allow that to happen.  We can make a different choice!

Become an Epiphany

We recently celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany, when the Magi or wise men follow the star to find the first manifestation of Christ to the gentiles. This feast challenges each of us to become an epiphany.

As described in Webster’s, “epiphany” means “a simple and striking event providing an intuitive grasp of reality “

Each of us can strive to emulate the life of Christ in our life for one another and in  what we do and say each day in our interaction with others.

Regrettably, too many people who have accepted the relativism of the world today – no belief in God and no belief in absolute truth – have no reservations about foisting their way of thinking on us, in what they say and do.

Again, in the words St. John Paul II, “Be not afraid.” That is why living our faith in our daily life is critical – this includes boldly speaking up when life-destructive opinions are given by others. As Catholic business men and women, we must share our beliefs.

A South Texas adventure

In late December, I got to take five grandsons—Trey, Chase, Patrick II, Gentry and Wilson—along with my three sons (their Dads) Tim II, Chris and Patrick, on a deer hunting trip to the brush country of South Texas at the 32,000-acre Cochina Ranch. It has a neat lodge and the outfitter was my cousin John C. Austin who has been hunting the Cochina for 32 years.

You generally hunt out of a rack on a pickup with a hydraulic lift to get you up high enough to see over the brush into openings. With the deer being in the “rut,” we rattled horns to bring in the bucks. Each of the grandsons killed a buck (except Trey who had to leave a day early, but his Dad helped him out). Not only was the hunting good, but also the food at the lodge and the conversation, card games and family time we had together.

Two Books

I have had time over the holidays to read two books, both NY Times best sellers, that I highly recommend.

The Fisherman’s Tomb, by John O’Neill, tells the true story of the Vatican’s search for the bones of St. Peter, which were found precisely under the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. It is a great story that includes the unheralded and magnanimous generosity of George Strake, whose involvement was kept secret by his own request. The discovery of the actual bones of St. Peter probably would not have happened without the virtual blank check given by George Strake to the Vatican, to cover the costs of excavation.

The book is full of Vatican intrigue, difficulties doing the excavation under St. Peter’s Basilica during WWII, and the human competitiveness and disdain among the archeologists. What an incredible contribution George Strake was able to make because of the discovery of the Conroe, Texas oil field. I did not know George Strake Sr., but I do know his son, George, who is a wonderful man and who continues the family tradition of generosity through the Strake Foundation.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, by Nabeel Qureshi, which is his personal story of how a devout Muslim encounters Christianity. I found this book to be greatly beneficial to have a clearer and deeper understanding of Islam and the Muslim people, the differences that distinguish the Sunni, Shia and Ahmadi sects, understanding the Islamic culture generally, the importance of the Quran to Muslims and the use of the Hadiths (stories about Mohammed handed down by various sources), the role of the father and mother in the family and the deep respect for the family by the children and the parent’s sense of obligation to teach their children about Islam.

The book also captures the importance of authority figures and acceptance from generation to generation without questioning or using the act of reasoning to come to an alternative conclusion, the explanation of cultural differences between a Muslim raised in the Middle East and one who moves to the West or who is born in the West,. It talks about how next generations of Muslims living in the West become westernized yet want to maintain their heritage and identification as Muslim.

The process that the author goes through to be able to overcome certain incorrect teachings from his Muslim childhood regarding Jesus was helpful to have an understanding of Muslim thought. I am still reading some of the reflections in the book and will share more later.

Keep your eye on on Rome in February

I urge you to follow what is happening in Rome in February with the meeting among the Pope and Catholic Bishops from throughout the world.

We must pray for the success of the meeting and the need for openness and candor about the impact that the sexual abuse scandal is having on the Church.

We must pray that the agenda will include all necessary issues, particularly to include the matter of homosexuality in the priesthood.

In particular, we must remember that the leaders of the Catholic Church are each human, that they, like all humans, are subject to faults and mistakes in their lives. However, the truths of the Catholic faith have not and will not change.

Let us pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit for all who participate and may the will of God prevail.



Timothy Von Dohlen is the founder and president of the John Paul II Life Center and Vitae Clinic in Austin, Texas. ( He may be reached at

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