Jamie O’Rourke

Jamie O’Rourke (right) with Michael Gilstrap, Executive Director of The Ponti cal University of Holy Cross Foundation. Prior to Jamie’s reversion to the Catholic Church 15 years ago, Michael gave him a copy of In Conversation with God (Scepter Press) meditations on themes taken from the Mass readings for that day, the liturgical season, and more. 

Jamie O’Rourke arrived in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1970 to attend Vanderbilt University and now calls Nashville his home. He married, raised children, and spent over thirty five years in the toy manufacturing business. After starting several companies and selling them, he now specializes in consultation, product development, licensing, and litigation management.

Although raised in the Catholic Church, Jamie had a conversion experience in college at age twenty-one and joined the Presbyterian Church. “I realized that there was a God and I wasn’t Him,” says Jamie. His commitment and ideals carried over into his business life where he tried to treat customers and employees according to a Christian ethic and worldview. He spent a number of years as a Presbyterian before reverting to Catholicism fifteen years ago.

Like Scott Hahn, another former Presbyterian, Jamie says the Catholic converts from this particular branch of Presbyterianism were intellectually curious. “They were not like kittens born in an oven who think they’re muffins. They actually think about these things. If people could stop us from thinking, we’d probably stop converting.” In Jamie’s experience, if you keep on thinking you’re bound to consider the claims of the Catholic Church.

The encouragement of his friend Michael Gilstrap, who worked with Jamie at that time, helped him return to his childhood faith. Michael, a former Episcopal priest, was aided in his own conversion by instruction from an Opus Dei priest. Michael gave Jaime the book In Conversation with God, which Jaime says, “has played a part in all my conversions.”

The Catholic Church and the In Conversation with God book series, gave Jamie “a better understanding of suffering and prayer and of our Blessed Mother.” Today Jamie’s prayer for his family and friends is that they will be “in friendship with Christ and suffer whatever is necessary to get to heaven, in communion with the Holy Apostolic Catholic Church.” So far, five of his nine children have become Catholics – most recently, his oldest daughter, her husband, and their six children.

Jamie’s business sense is clear-eyed and precise – including his assessment about charitable giving. “As someone who believes that it’s better to have no priest then a bad priest,” says Jamie, “Santa Croce is one of the answers. Among all of my choices as a businessman trying to be prudent, Santa Croce is a great investment.”

“What a priest, who is in the person of Christ, has to say in order to help people is often an inconvenient truth,” he says. “People by nature don’t want to change, and priests by nature want to be liked. But we’re looking for the supernatural – priests who want to be loved by God by telling people the truth – and that’s what I feel we’re getting from Santa Croce.”