February 2, 2018

‘The highest compliment I give him is I quote him,’ says Marian’s president

By John Shaughnessy

Daniel ElsenerDaniel Elsener laughs as he recalls one of the greatest gifts he received from Archbishop Emeritus Daniel M. Buechlein.

“The highest compliment I give him is I quote him,” says Elsener, president of Marian University in Indianapolis.

Two sayings of Archbishop Buechlein particularly stand out to Elsnener, who served the archdiocese from 1992-99 as the executive director of the office of Catholic education and as executive director of the office of stewardship and development.

Elsener heard the first memorable quote during a time of tremendous growth in the number of students in Catholic schools in the archdiocese. Elsener recalls telling the archbishop that such growth required a lengthy list of extra resources, and asked him about what could be done about that problem.

“He’d say, ‘That’s not a problem. That’s a happy challenge,’ ” Elsener recalls with a laugh.

The other quote that Elsener often uses stems from another conversation with the archbishop, when they we’re talking about center-city Catholic schools—which were always a priority for Archbishop Buechlein during his tenure.

“I’d say, ‘What do you want to do here?’ He’d say, ‘No, no! We’re not delegating up here!’

“Having said that, he was great at empowering you. And he would back you in your decision. He was a great leader, and he would teach people around him to be a great leader.”

Elsener says those quotes and that approach to leadership have continued to guide him at Marian.

“I feel much of what we have accomplished at Marian is by following his blueprint. I find myself drawing upon his wisdom a lot. He knew you had to get people involved. You do the right consultations, and once you did, you put the plan together. And once the decision was made, if he thought the good of the people and the good of the Church would be served, he would commit to it.

“He did a lot with his life. He was driven by faith. He was courageous, too. And he was very kind. It was a beautiful life well-lived.” †

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