Michael J. Kerrigan


I could not think of a more uplifting message to share with the readers of the Character Building Project during the Christmas season than the following address of my friend and neighbor, David Rathburn, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Grove City College. While currently undergoing the traumatic challenges of stage three cancer, David has kept the faith that he learned many years ago from his parents and his college community.

When I was a student here I didn’t have very much money, so I found numerous jobs to allow me to buy gas and late night food at Pizza Villa – a place long since closed that few around here probably remember it right by the Guthrie Theater.

I shoveled snow (and we had a lot of it in the late 70’s), I wrote sports stories about Grove City athletics for the Butler Eagle and Sharon Herald,… Continue reading


The answers to why some acquire decent character and others do not are very consistent. However, a few respondents say they don’t know or wish they knew. Most respondents believe decent character and early moral development seems largely driven by free will, a desire to improve, good role models, faith, family, grace, mentors and the formation of good habits.



Look for good role models whose actions align with their words. In the word of social media, 24/7 news and online information of every type, it seems that anyone can build and audience/following and become an “expert”. It is very important to do the due diligence and make sure that everything adds up and that peoples actions are consistent with the message.

Family and faith are essential building blocks for the acquisition and retention of good character. While they do not guarantee a decent character it is far more… Continue reading


Many of the respondents rely on their faith when things go wrong. Several are just optimistic by nature; while others leave no room for pity, excuses or being a victim. Some see opportunities in every problem; many are resilient, just persevering through their problems, others pray directly to Jesus and one maintains an attitude of gratitude notwithstanding the problem. The most practical answer maybe in getting a good night’s sleep.

This is a very serious question and I do not want to give a superficial answer. Often, I need to promote positive attitudes in people who have suffered enormous loss, humiliation and pain. I need to find some core values, some essence of meaning, and some worthiness that they can believe, despite a dark reality. I do the same with myself.

Faith, on both counts.

I don’t always. Sometimes I have to have a short pity party. What gives you… Continue reading


Over the holidays I had time to watch several You Tube videos** of warriors coping with TBI and especially, noting the essential role of spouses standing by their men. These stories prompted me to think more deeply of their suffering.

Although I could not be of much help to these American heroes, I would hope they might receive some consolation in the following mediation by Elisabeth Leseur, a French laywoman whose cause for canonization is underway.

“Suffering is the great law of the spiritual world. God’s chosen ones escape it less than others; they pay the ransom for others, sometimes at a very high price. We will know only later the work accomplished by our suffering and our sacrifices.”

I pray these spiritual martyrs can maintain their faith and perseverance. May they know their trials not only inspire their fellow Americans but may be a redemptive treasure for them as… Continue reading

The Huffington Post

By Alena Hall

Posted: 07/08/2014 7:39 am EDT  |  Updated: 07/08/2014 7:59 am EDT

Humans have a remarkable capacity for resilience. Over and over, we hear stories of people who, after trauma and adversity, pick themselves up, put the pieces back together, and go on with their lives.

But for many, there’s a place beyond recovery. For this group, life’s most difficult experiences prompt them not only to bounce back, but to bounce forward. These are the people who David B. Feldman and Lee Daniel Kravetz spotlight in their new book, Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success. They define a supersurvivor as “a person who has dramatically transformed his or her life after surviving a trauma, accomplishing amazing things or transforming the world for the better.”

By telling the stories of those who created better lives for themselves following a… Continue reading

Veterans struggle in aftermath of recent wars, but friendship and structures of faith help the process of healing

John Burger


Post-traumatic stress. Amputations and brain injuries. High suicide rates. Can any good news come out of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars?

The effects of our recent military engagements in the Middle East are long-lasting. Though today’s veterans come home to a friendlier reception than their Vietnam-era forebears had, thousands of men and women who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom carry scars physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual that are deep and abiding.

Will they recover? Can they recover? What can be done for them? Is the Veterans Affairs (VA) system adequate? Is spiritual help being offered for those who need it? What difference is it making?

As America celebrates another Memorial Day and Congress questions whether the VA system of medical centers is doing enough, the veterans… Continue reading

Recently, I was honored to receive the following comments on PTG from a “Big Army” officer, true leader, family man, a “believer” and serious athlete. I have not revealed his name but do wish the readers of The Character Building Project, especially, my wounded warrior pals, to benefit from his insights.
“With regards to post traumatic growth, I question the environment that many of our returning service members are finding themselves in after they return home. Are they returning to their hometowns and continuing a downward spiral of substance abuse? Do their family and friends understand their experiences and support their needs?
I can tell you from personal experience that it can be tough to relate to family and friends after returning from a deployment. Having people listen to my stories has always been therapeutic, especially if the people listening can relate and put my experiences into context. I think… Continue reading

Following our Thanksgiving post on General Patrick Henry Brady and Charles Kelly, I have had several requests to provide more information on both men as well as expand on General Brady’s views of courage.

My preference is to quote the subjects I profile, “in their own words” as much as possible. Therefore, the following quotes from General Brady recent book “Dead Men Flying” share the General’s opinion of his mentor Charles Kelly as well as further report on Brady’s views of courage and faith.

“Kelly was a man of humble beginnings and humility is a constant mark of great leaders. Loss of humility also marks the disintegration of leadership. Kelly was a humble man who drove home for me the incredible treasure that is courage. In many ways, we are not born equal; certainly in terms of ability and opportunity, we are not equal, In fact there may be only… Continue reading

Since Rick Santorum formally announced for the Republican nomination today, I thought I would offer my rationale, in part, for supporting his candidacy. I have observed Rick first hand as a fellow parishioner, worked with him while he was in the United States Senate, profiled him in my book: Politics with Principle: 10 Characters with Character and discussed his views on the Character Building Project.

Continue reading

It has been a tradition in my family since I was a child to give and receive books at Christmas. This Christmas was no exception. I was most fortunate to receive: Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas, The Bed of Cruces by Nicholas Taleb and Decision Points by George W. Bush. I am thoroughly enjoying Bonhoeffer, which I chose as my first read, and I plan in my next several posts, to explain how this book relates to my study of character. Continue reading

By Guest Blogger Mattias Caro

Leadership, to paraphrase the Supreme Court, is like pornography: we know it when we see it. Over the last several weeks, and in particular, the last few days, Sebastian Piñera, president of Chile, has shown the world moral and political courage. Of course, I’m biased. My family is Chilean. They left Chile in the early 1970s, before the rupture of our 9-11, General Pinochet’s coup. They stayed long enough to bear the labor pangs of a still-birth socialism waiting to metastasize into full-blown communism. Many years later, Chile peacefully transitioned to democracy when our dictator laid down his power at the people’s request – perhaps the world’s only true Lockean moment. Yet, the country never healed – longing to be, but not yet, one. Continue reading

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