It is with pride and joy I present to you the next member of Team Do Good, the mighty George Fisher. I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate George here via Tampa Bless and Team Do Good. His willingness to participate in this feature and to provide feedback is highly appreciated. And now, without further ado...
Name: George Harrison Fisher II
Place of birth: Kankakee, IL
Currently reside: Tampa, FL
Family: My wife Emily and our 3 sons: Jack (4), William (3), and Patrick (1). Baby Fisher #4 due 11/4/2020!
Alma Mater: Notre Dame (undergrad), Loyola Chicago (medical school), and University of South Florida (residency).
Occupation: Ophthalmologist. I truly have the best job. Through cataract surgery, I get to improve patients’ vision-- sometimes drastically. They are so grateful. I tell my patients it is God working through me.
Activities you organized or participate in related to helping others and uplifting humanity? I realize this is an uncomfortable question to answer because it feels self-promotional, yet it's important to share so to inspire others:
Family Leadership Chair with the Society of St. Joseph. Leader/organizer of Exodus 90 at Christ the King Parish. Help teach the Baptism formation class at Christ the King Parish. Volunteer quarterly as an ophthalmologist at the St. Andres Catholic Charities clinic in Dade City, Florida.
The Tampa Bless 12
Let me preface this by saying that the term favorite or any superlative really is meant to be understood as a top choice because some people have multiple favorites.
1) Favorite pastime or hobby? Why? Please explain.
Playing pick-up basketball. Nothing is better than the flow that occurs when 5 random guys get on the basketball court and make a run of winning 4 or 5 games in a row. I love the exercise and the competition, but to be honest I’ve only played pick-up basketball twice in the last year and one of them was for the “Hoops for Life” tournament. The reason for my poor attendance on the court brings me to my current hobby... Being Dad. Their interests are my interests. So right now I’m a scoot-er extraordinaire, “grow any random fruit seed that we eat” gardener, and an amateur wrestler!
2) Favorite sport, team, or player? If not into sports, your favorite musician or album? Or answer one of each if you’d like or any combo. Please explain why for any one or more of the questions you answered.
Favorite player has to be Michael Jordan. I grew up outside of Chicago in the ’90s. It was a given! I have really enjoyed watching The Last Dance documentary on ESPN right now. You have to admire his drive for greatness and dedication to his craft. My favorite team is definitely Notre Dame for college football. Growing up and watching the games with my dad, an alumnus, and seeing Notre Dame in the “good ol days” actually win big games under Lou Holtz cemented my allegiance. Sadly, I can’t remember the last national championship win in 1988, but this year is THE year. My wife can attest that I allow myself to believe this, despite all evidence to the contrary, before the start of every season.
3) Favorite movie? Why? Please explain.
Rudy, for sure Rudy. Everyone tells him he is too small, too short, and too dumb to make it as a Notre Dame student-athlete. The music gives me chills every time I hear it. I love how he would not settle for mediocrity. There will probably never be a dramatized Hollywood film of my life, but I can relate to continually striving to improve in all areas of my life-- professionally, spiritually, and in my closest relationships.
4) Favorite place (country, city, town, etc…) you have visited and why?
Cimarron, New Mexico. In 2009, I helped lead a 10-day hike with my brother Carl, cousins George and Charlie, and other scouts at the Philmont Scout Ranch in the Rocky Mountains. On the 6th night there, I remember looking up and seeing the night sky filled with stars. It was one of those moments when time just stopped and all you could do was sit in awe of the immensity and beauty of God’s creation.
5) Last meal? You could have anything, what is it? Why? Please explain.
Bern’s steak dinner with a side of my grandmother’s “Mamoo” bread. Growing up, my grandmother, Mamoo, made these amazing fresh bread rolls from scratch every Sunday. The smell of baking rolls still conjures a feeling of home and family. I’ve been thinking that I need to start making them for my wife and kids! The Bern’s steak dinner speaks for itself. I love how you feel taken care of when you are there. Then you get to go upstairs for dessert and start all over again.
6) Three activities or routines you would highly recommend? Please explain your reasoning for each.
1. Prayer. I honestly don’t think anyone in my 16 years of Catholic education ever told me that I should pray daily. Although it’s possible someone did, and I didn’t have ears to hear it. Three years ago, Dan Burke gave a talk at Christ the King and encouraged all attending to make a commitment to daily prayer and set up a sacred place in your house to do it. It took me a while to get my sacred space situated, but now I pray daily. I do it first thing in the morning before anyone gets up. I find this is the best time to hear God’s voice especially in a busy household. Opening up that conversation with God was life-changing. He continues to draw me deeper. If you are looking to build your relationship with God, daily prayer is essential.
Along the lines of prayer… I would encourage parents to bless their children at bedtime. Every night, I give each child his own special blessing. I make the sign of the cross on their foreheads and ask Jesus to help each one become a man with a love and a fire after His own heart. A father’s blessing is a powerful gift.
2. WEEKLY DATE NIGHT. I wish I could take credit for this idea, but like most of my good ideas, it was my bride’s. Boy has it paid dividends in our relationship. I remember at “Reboot Live” Chris Stefanick said, “Date night is a lot cheaper than counseling.” Having a weekly standing babysitter has provided that time for Emily and I to connect as husband and wife when it can be easy to just feel like co-partners in running a household and raising children. We go on a weeknight, eat early, and come home just after the kids are in bed. Then the weekend is free for family time and other events. It is great knowing that we are going to have that quality time together every week.
3. Fraternity. Having men that can push you to grow your relationship with God and hold you accountable in your spiritual life is priceless. Also, being able to talk about “real stuff” with other men such as fatherhood, leading your family in prayer, honoring your wedding vows, etc. motivates you to become a better man. This is why the Society of St. Joseph is such a great ministry. For the past two years, I’ve also helped organize a group of men to complete Exodus 90. It’s a 90-day program based on prayer, asceticism, and fraternity. It has been amazing to see men develop and deepen their prayer lives, sacrifice a long list of daily comforts like hot showers and social media, and grow in brotherhood-- all to become the men God has designed them to be.
7) A) Personality trait you highly value? Why? Please explain. B) The personality trait you highly dislike? Why? Please explain.
A. Courage. I especially admire those who are courageous in living their faith. They don’t shy away from sacrifice, service, or speaking the truth. Embracing the call to serve others has always been part of my life, but in the past I really never mentioned God or faith in conversation because I didn’t want to make others uncomfortable. I started praying for the virtue of courage, and the Holy Spirit has placed me in all sorts of interesting situations requiring me to be bold. God is now part of so many conversations with patients, family, friends, co-workers… and even strangers. Be careful what you pray for!
B. Being self-interested. I struggle with people who aren’t willing to get outside themselves to serve others or who only do something to make themselves look good. They’re unwilling to do anything unless it provides an immediate benefit for them. The “it’s all about me” attitude is corrosive in families, workplaces, the Church, and society in general.
8) Favorite thinker (author, philosopher, theologian, etc…)? Why? Please explain. And what is your favorite piece of advice, quote, or text from them or in general? Why? Please explain.
St. Joseph. Although there are no words of his recorded in the Bible, nor did he write anything that we know of, St. Joseph speaks to us in his example. He was humble and always obedient to the will of God. Nothing God asked of him was too much. He gave his whole life to protect and raise Jesus. Since St. Joseph’s words aren’t recorded, my favorite quote is from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: “The world will offer you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” I think we can all relate to chasing the comforts of the world and coming up dissatisfied time after time. Comfort is wimpy. What an awesome call-- to realize we are restless because we are made for more.
9) Biggest influence in your life or a top one, and what was it about them that really stood out?
My dad. I talked about St. Joseph being the silent, steady, self-sacrificing head of the Holy Family. That is what my dad is. He is a quiet, steady, self-sacrificing, holy man. When I am stuck in a situation and wondering what to do, I default to what my dad did. This is usually to get up and do the dishes or find some other way to serve. His example is what really stood out.
10) If there is one thing you could change in the world, what would it be?
The crisis of fatherhood. The absent father. The disinterested father. The father who shies away from his role as spiritual head of the household. The whole purpose of the Society of St. Joseph is to define what it means to be a Catholic father, to be St. Joseph in your home. Men need to be re-educated on what true manhood is. It’s not your bank account, social status, or accomplishments, but your willingness to lay down your life for your family and community. I believe the impact of virtuous, engaged, strong fathers would be profound.
11) Where did your desire to help others and uplift humanity come from? Please explain.
My desire to serve humanity is best summed up in the parable of the talents. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells a story about servants who were entrusted with talents and they were rewarded based on what they did with them. Those servants who multiplied the talents were “entered into joy with their master.” The servant who did nothing with his talent but buried it in the ground was cast to the place where there would be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Now, I am not saying that my desire stems from fear, but I do know that I have been given plenty of talents! I grew up with a loving and intact family. I am educated. I am in good health. I am well-loved. I don’t want to be standing at the pearly gates and the Lord saying, “George, look what I gave you. Why didn’t you do more to serve my people? I expected you to be great and you were satisfied with being comfortable.” I want the Lord to say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
12) What are you working on now and how can people get involved?
This Fall, I will be the Faith Formation chair with the Society of St. Joseph. We are currently on break for the summer, but the best way for men to get involved is to visit the website at https://thesocietyofstjoseph.com/. We’ll be working through an awesome video series called Into the Breach; you can check out the “trailer” for the series at https://www.kofc.org/en/campaigns/into-the-breach.html. I am also 100% sure that we will have men from SSJ participating in Exodus 90 starting in January of 2021.
Editor's note: Tampa's Society of St. Joseph, which George mentions his involvement in, is currently doing a fundraiser in which they've been able to organize a match for the group. The goal is to raise at least $40,000, and they will match dollar for dollar up to $20,000 - together providing more than 16,000 to-go meals! Link here: https://donate.feedingtampabay.org/event/society-of-st-josephs/e285065
Thank you so much for your time George and for all that you do. The place we live in is that much better because of you. I hope that this feature has served to inspire you, as well as successfully celebrate those that help others and uplift humanity.
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