Reverend Edward Moran grew up as the son of military Army parents, both of whom served in World War II. From his birth at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, as a military child, he moved frequently while he was young, thriving in an ever-changing environment of military posts and civilian housing. As his father came to be settled in Petersburg, Virginia as a retired civilian military worker, the family’s strong Catholic faith found expression in local Catholic elementary and later, high school as well as in the local parish of St. Joseph’s.
As a young adult, he knew he wanted to go into the Air Force Academy as a potential jet fighter pilot. But when he made First Alternate to the Academy in 1969 waiting on an applicant who never dropped out, he ended up taking a Reserve Officer Training Scholarship (ROTC) to attend the University of Virginia. In retrospect, it was a better liberal arts education with opportunities to get a private pilot’s license, as well as grow in the Catholic faith. The pastor of the University parish, Fr. William Stickle proved a lifelong friend who helped steer him into the Catholic priesthood after his years of serving as an Army aviator (1973-1977) at Ft. Hood, Texas. Having grown up in a family that entered military service wholeheartedly and was also guided by faith, Edward knew the direction he wanted his career to take. It would be one that would diligently serve our country and take care of others.
When he left the Army in 1977, Edward Moran entered graduate school at the Catholic University in Washington D.C. At that time, he found himself questioning many things which is how he found himself taking philosophy courses and staying on for the Masters degree (1984). Fr. Bill encouraged him to evaluate everything. This included asking him why not consider the priesthood? Philosophy would be a great segue way into Theology (1986). After some time and a great deal of prayer, Edward realized he wanted to become a priest. This path would enable him to achieve his most desired goal, as it would allow him to serve people in a way that could save lives and nurture souls. Assigned to local parishes in the Diocese of Richmond, Edward was ordained in 1989 and sent off to serve in local parishes becoming a pastor in 1990. Some years after being ordained and serving as pastor in local parishes, he realized he still wanted to serve in the military. He asked his bishop if he would permit him to enter the Air Force as a chaplain. The bishop agreed, so he entered the Air Force as a chaplain from 1995-2009. This was the beginning of a long adventure for Reverend Moran. He saw the world, saved lives, and truly served—not just in the military, but also the people in it.
Today, as a retired priest and chaplain Edward still enjoys serving the people in his community. He went back to school in 2012 to earn a Masters degree in Psychology from the Institute for the Psychological Sciences and has volunteered in various ways to work with church members and with veterans. Having seen the front combat lines when stationed in Afghanistan, he is well-equipped to help support those with varying degrees of service related issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Having the ability to serve others in a positive manner has always brought him joy.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
My university pastor, Father William Stickle, gave me the idea. He was there at a critical time in my life. As I was moving from the military back into civilian life after time in the army, he was there to ask, “Why not?” You’ve investigated all these other things through academia. Why don’t you investigate yourself and your soul through personal prayer? So, I prayed, and through that, discovered that I wanted to be a priest. Once in theological studies, there was a different mentor, Father Romanus Cessario O.P. Fr. Moran credits him for “single-handedly saving my vocation many times given all of the ideological battles that were part of the Catholic scene in the 1980s.” My parents, who really wanted to be grandparents, were first reluctant about the decision, but later fully embraced of the vocation as they realized the spiritual family they were adopting.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
In the chaplain unit, we typically had a wing chaplain who demanded accountability for our work and ministry. She or he would ask you for a schedule every week. The exchange would typically sound something like this: “Where are you committed? What do your visitations look like? How often do you lead Sunday services? And oh, by the way, I have these tasks. Can you help me out with them? Can you take one of them? Can you take a few of them? How many can you do?” And, of course, if you were really gung-ho, you just jumped into the work. I was busy all the time and enjoyed this pace. Being a chaplain also meant doing ecumenical work with other chaplains. We learned to overcome creedal differences in order to serve the troops.
In 1999, my bishop called me back from active duty in the Air Force telling me that there was a deep priest shortage in the Diocese. He did allow me to join the Air National Guard Reserves to maintain my pension and serve overseas once or twice a year when needed. It was a blessing to have had a retired priest in the parish who could help out when I was deployed for three months stints.
Working in a civilian small parish, I typically didn’t have a large paid staff. I usually just had a secretary and a bookkeeper. I had to work with volunteers at many different levels, and I had to listen well. Learning to do that was very important. I think in the early stages of my career, I was very military-like—after all, I was straight out of the Army. I wanted to make set orders and organize things accordingly. I learned after a while that if people know that you care about them, they will start to care about you and your ideas. They’ll even be motivated to help you. That takes good people skills. And once you really begin to care for people, they will discuss all their problems with you—really talk it out. These visits meant a lot to people, because somebody finally put in the effort to see them and care for their well-being. I’d have to plan my days with these goals in mind, but God always found a way to help me figure it out. Civilian parish life was not as structured as the military, but it allowed me to experiment with more spontaneity, and that’s a blessing.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Bringing ideas to life starts with discerning a real need. People have the notion that if they just have an idea, all it takes is pure will to implement it. Typically, ideas that succeed are not realized simply by will alone. Learning to listen to those around you, and draw in the people capable of supporting and implementing ideas is key to bringing ideas to life. Using this strategy, one begins to hear what is really needed and then to form an action plan. With prayer and focus as allies, a band of committed workers can put that plan into action.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Where I’m living right now in Tyler, Texas, the trend I have come to Texas to experience emanates from one bishop who is becoming a true spiritual leader. Many are moving to Tyler to learn from him. These are people hungry for real spiritual content as well as true Episcopal leadership. This guy has it, he loves people, he shares with them showing he is one with them. He’s humble and easy to talk to. He mingles with people and doesn’t hold himself back. He takes courageous positions on topics that matter. Just as good leadership always excited me in the military, this kind of leadership excites me now.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m an active learner. I like to read and I like to learn things. I like to know what people know, and understand why they know it. Why do they know about this or that? Why is it important to them? So that would be a kind of a mantra in my life. I always want to be an active learner meaning learning from peoples’ life skills, practically-speaking as well as spiritually and educationally.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Learn to wait on people, and listen to them. The biggest mistake I made while I was young was being headstrong—convinced of my own prideful ‘rightness.’ Now, I’ve realized that people want to know if you care about them before they’ll care about you. So, I would say to the younger version of myself, “Learn to listen. Learn to sit on your plans and listen to what people’s needs are. Once you comprehend their needs and start responding appropriately, they’ll really understand that you’ve listened to them. They’ll be ready to return the interest and investment in you.”
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe that our nation’s spiritual future as one nation under God will return and become prominent once again.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Exercise and pray. Do these things daily because the body is the temple of the human soul, and you have to take care of your soul, and by extension, your body. Of course, exercise means good nutrition. Prayer means taking time out of your day to deliberately communicate with God. Sit with God, and talk with God, and listen to God. Those are important disciplines to maintain… as well as learning as an older person to drink more water.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Listening to people who are more spiritually developed than yourself. First of all, go on retreats. That is where you can find such people. Once you do, listen to them. Learn all you can from those who are spiritual fathers and loving leaders. As you receive, so are you to give. Considering the stage of my career I’m now in, I have a number of priests that I communicate with regularly. There are also priests here in Tyler who are brand new to the clergy, and it’s wonderful to see such youth and such exuberance and such training. Many of these guys have been trained very well, unlike what my cohort in the 1980s.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Many years ago, while I was learning how to counsel effectively, I encountered a woman that was truly troubled. I should have referred her to a more experienced counsellor. She had been abused growing up. She did not like herself at all. I did my best to counsel her. Despite my best efforts, she eventually turned against my advice and made false accusations that she followed up with a request to the bishop for financial compensation. It was heartbreaking to think we were making progress, and then greed became her guide. Today, I strive to be aware of those whom I counsel and set very strong boundaries that came through professional education. The effort she initiated in 1993 led to many problems over the years. However, it has not deterred me in my spiritual life, or lessened my desire to do what I can to help others.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
If a person has the requisite cyber abilities, and understands online platforms with regard to crowdfunding, there’s so much that can be done for local emergent needs. I would say one of the ways people can become unsung heroes is by connecting donors with causes. Helping both parties find the resources to fund a worthy cause provides a deep sense of true accomplishment.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
There’s a little parish here in Tyler. It’s a very small church—probably seats about 300 people. There’s this nun, she must be in her late 80s, and she’s trying to start a traditional side to her religious order in this community. What I have seen parishioners do is take large monetary bills (20s, 50s, 100s) and fold them up. When she gets up to move, they drop them down in her pew so she can find their anonymous gifts. I now regularly add to these gifts. That’s the best kind of contribution that shows people’s goodwill. She’s always thankful to God for it, too, which is ultimately where the glory belongs. That bit of money I think buys her food for the next week.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Right now, it’s a new kind of flight planning software, ForeFlight. It is probably on the cutting-edge of all flight software. It’s a Boeing product, and only runs on Apple iOS. So, in order for me to install it and learn it, I had to change all my devices over to Apple. But I’m glad I did. The software gives you weather reports and it proximates air traffic in real time. You can see where the storms are moving and where you need to go to stay away from them. It can identify the best runway to land on and why. It’s incredibly helpful, especially compared to back in the 1970s, when you had to do all the calculation personally.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
There’s a book by Abigail Schreier, called Irreversible Damage. The book focuses on gender identity and body dysphoria among young teenage girls. As a freelance writer for the Wall Street Journal, she’s proven her investigative skills. Over the course of years, she’s documented this phenomenon in ways that are fair and thorough—she listened to everybody who had something to say about the issue. I’ve read it a couple times. It’s that well done. And I know that subject is a real problem today for parents.
The aviation side of me would tell people to read The Little Prince. That story was created by a French writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, a pilot from the 1930s who actually died while flying across Africa. I think that book spoke to me as an aviator because the character of the young prince from another planet who is trying to discover this very strange world that he’s landed on.
What is your favorite quote?
“Life grows by being given away and weakens in isolation and comfort.” — Pope Francis
- God has given us two ears and one mouth so that we listen twice as much as we talk.
- Listening more than you speak shows the love you have for people and God working through them.
- Beginning the day with prayer and exercise creates habits that help to keep the mind clear and the body healthy.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.