Kenneth Hackett, who served as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See from 2013 to 2017, and President of Catholic Relief Services from 1993 to 2011, was the inaugural interviewee in this year’s series of Morning Reflection interviews. The interviews will be conducted by President Nunes via Zoom on the last Monday of each month, giving students the opportunity to hear from prominent people who exemplify Concordia's mission by living lives of passion, purpose and service.
Ambassador Hackett explained the deep influence of his Catholic upbringing. “The Church was a part of everything all my life, and through that I absorbed the idea that we should be of service to others.” Education in Jesuit institutions impressed upon him the importance of “finding God in everything you do – wherever you are.” His career in service began when he joined the Peace Corps out of college in 1968, then went to work for Catholic Relief Services, eventually rising to lead the organization.
When asked by President Nunes what advice he would give his 20-year-old self, Ken revealed he keeps an early rejection letter on his wall as inspiration. “Don’t give up” he answered. “Go for it with passion - and intellect. If you want it badly enough, you can make it happen.”
The recipient of nineteen honorary doctorates and the Laetare Medal from University of Notre Dame, Ambassador Hackett has also been honored as Knight Commander of the Equestrian Order of St Gregory the Great, and Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Pius IX. When President Nunes asked him about challenges he’s faced and how he’s overcome them, he had this to say: “I was never a leader in academic pursuits, so I’ve always surrounded myself with people smarter than I am. And I devour information.”
Asked about hope in the face of the multiple crises facing the world today, Ambassador Hackett was clear. “I am hopeful. We as individuals have to make it better. And we can make it better. We can all make a difference.”