The J.P. Gallagher Audax Award is given annually to highly esteemed and accomplished individuals working in the Church in notable ministries. The award honors the memory of Gallagher’s J. P. Gallagher (Pat’s father). J.P.’s collaborative spirit in working closely with the Church in insurance and risk management in the 70s, 80s and 90s left an indelible mark with innovative protected self-insurance strategies for reclaiming dollars for ministry. Audax is Latin for “bold,” and the intent of the award is to honor and recognize bold and courageous men and women who through their ministry have made a discernible difference in the lives of others and the life of the Church.
Bishop Stephen Blaire
Diocese of Stockton
As I think about the Gallagher Way (est.1984), a document originally written by Bob Gallagher, Pat’s Uncle and former Chairman of our company, I see leadership and teamwork as key components of this ‘magna carta’ for our company. Even today we corporately attribute this document to our success as a company in being recognized now six years in a row by Ethisphere, a global firm whose mission is to lift up those leaders who are ethical. Such thinking then takes me to Pat’s father, J.P. Gallagher, and his disruptive thinking on how a diocese or any enterprise might finance the risk and in fact reclaim dollars for mission and ministry! Gallagher would go forward introducing the “Bishop’s Plan” as it was called, beyond the dioceses to cities and municipalities, to schools, special districts and other nonprofits and corporate risks.
Grounded in this culture I am excited to see Bishop Stephen Blaire as our J. P. Gallagher Audax Award 2017 recipient, as so much of whom he is and what he has done reflects this bold, daring leadership. Yes, we all know that Cardinal Mahoney was confident in having one of his Auxiliary Bishops sent to Stockton, a small rural diocese in north eastern California, where others I have talked to affirmed his comment “we are sending our best.” But we now have the benefit of perspective to see how Bishop Blaire lived out this reputation, despite the worse of conditions and the adversity of the situation. Imagine leaving an urban experience and his family (he was the 12th of 14 children) as shepherd to a flock that had in its midst a rogue priest who would hurt so many children. Perhaps it was this reality that shaped this resolute priest and leader to take on a pastoral position long before Pope Francis would make his clarion call.
Rather than cite the many situations he faced I focus on today and how he is beloved, how he advocates for social justice and even though he has announced his retirement, the parishioners, priests and broader community are all thrilled to see he will continue in their midst and be present in the Diocese of Stockton. He has become one of them by leading, by listening, by being transparent, by being consultative and seeking others’ opinions and perspectives. The Diocese of Stockton is clearly a leader in the California Catholic Conference, the first to separately incorporate its parishes, and has come through its painful bankruptcy with a sense of new life and commitment.
"Bishop Stephen Blaire is a courageous and inspiring leader. By integrating and accessing his personal journey of faith, his understanding of those in need, and his focused skills at accomplishing the goals, he draws us together as disciples in a response of gospel love to the challenges of the world around us…I have bee privileged to learn and be guided by him as he let the California Catholic Conference as President for six years. I have been moved by his leadership of the Diocese of Stockton in their response to the needs of those victimized by abuse.
I have been blessed by watching him sanctify, teach and govern as a modern day apostle of Jesus."
Ned Dolejsi, Executive Director
California Catholic Conference
We are all so proud of Bishop Blaire and feel so blessed to have him in our midst. Imagine how lucky I am to be a member of the Gallagher team serving the Diocese of Stockton! Congratulations, Bishop Blaire, and to many more years!
Account Executive – Diocese of Stockton
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. | San Francisco | Religious Practice
Past Recipients include:
Father Gregory Boyle
Founder, Homeboy Industries
Archdiocese of Chicago
50 Years of Partnership with Arthur J. Gallagher & Co
Most Reverend Dale J Melczek
Diocese of Gary (Emeritus)
Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki
Diocese of Springfield in Illinois
Bishop Ed Kmiec
Diocese of Buffalo
Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas
Diocese of Tucson
Sister Monica Kostielney
Michigan Catholic Conference
Father Paul Stein
Archdiocese of Chicago
Diocese of St. Augustine
Most Rev. Donald W. Trautman
Bishop of Erie