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 following excerpt by Dr. James Dobson’s from When God Doesn’t Make Sense explains his thoughts on “The Adversity Principle.” I share a few paragraphs in the hopes you might read further and because I am often asked how those of you who live by faith can explain how your God permits suffering.

Could it be that our heavenly Father permits His children to struggle in order to keep us strong? I firmly believe that to be true. That is precisely what James told the Jewish-Christians in the first century: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3). Paul echoed that theme in his letter to the Romans: “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).

Jesus said it even… 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



As a young student, I felt conflicted trying to understand why good men suffer. My father, James Kerrigan was a humble, good and God fearing man yet suffered with tuberculosis, seven years in the sanitarium and 13 major operations, dying at age 62! On the other hand, my father was also a dedicated and happy husband, a most cheerful family man, and an extraordinary athlete, notwithstanding his many years of disabilities. Justice should have delivered prosperity to my Dad yet his life was full of adversity.

My father’s most repeated advice to me was that “Michael, it is not what happens but how you handle what happens that counts.” In addition to bestowing the moniker of “Golden Boy” on me, my Dad shared many books with me as he made the best of his years in the sanitarium by being a voracious reader. However, the two books he cherished… Continue reading

First I wish to honor the “Supersurvivors” not only as portrayed in the book but also many others who have triumphed over trauma.Secondly, I wish to thank the authors for taking on this topic so important to so many servicemen, law enforcement officials and those suffering from all types of trauma.Notwithstanding, the many fine stories demonstrating the links between suffering and success, I was disappointed the authors were not more forthcoming about admitting their own not so hidden ideological agenda.In the remainder of this review, I will point out that which I see as the authors’ style as a polemicist and offer excerpts from the book to share my view as to what appears to me to an ideological agenda driven slant. To be fair to the authors, one should read the entire book so that the excerpts can understood in the context the authors meant.The cultural worldview of the… 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

From time to time The Character Building Project acts as a “curator” of noteworthy articles. Today’s piece is courtesy of the Order of Malta.

Before his death in 1983 due to lymphoma, the saintly Terence Cardinal Cooke, Archbishop of New York, gave us an incredible insight into the beauty of suffering and death, when he wrote that human life, God’s precious gift, is no less beautiful when it is accompanied by sickness or suffering, disease or illness, hunger or poverty, mental or physical handicaps, loneliness or old age. Indeed, at these times, he wrote, life takes on extra splendor, as it reveals God’s power shining through our human weakness.

At the outset of writing Courage in America, I wish to credit the ten wounded warriors who shared with me their arduous journeys from their traumatic injuries to individual greatness. I also wish to acknowledge Dr. Paul Stoltz and Erik Weihenmayer, not only for having greatly influenced my thinking by there book, The Adversity Advantage but also for their ongoing support to the Character Building Project.

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Courage in America has been aurally transcribed for the visually impaired, thanks to Volunteers of Vacaville, California. Tel: 704.448.6841 ext 2044.