MADISON A cradle Catholic, Tom Healey of Christ the King Parish, New Vernon, certainly looks to the Word of God to help guide him through his considerable success as a distinguished leader in various fields, including finance, education, government, the Church and philanthropy. Yet this former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury for domestic finance under President Reagan also subscribes to a Moran philosophy that has made a big impact on him — that life is divided into three parts: first, you learn; then, you earn; and then, you return.
“It’s a powerful idea — giving back to others,” said Healey, founder and managing partner at Healey Development LLC, who spoke recently at St. Paul Inside the Walls: the Catholic Center for Evangelization at Bayley-Ellard here — the latest in its series of conversations about faith, life and work, called “Speaking of Faith.”
Healey sat behind a small table in a classroom at St. Paul’s, speaking with Father Manning, its executive director and diocesan vicar for evangelization, who asked him a series of insightful questions about his extensive life of faith and service to others. Listening in on intimate conversation was an enthusiastic and engaged audience that included Christ the King parishioners, members of St. Paul’s and many of Healey’s professional colleagues, who were allowed to ask him their own questions toward the conclusion of the program.
“ ‘Speaking of Faith’ is a series of interviews with noted Catholics, where we ask them to reflect on the concept of God and about the integration of faith with life,” said Father Manning in his introduction.
A funny and fascinating guest, Healey has lived what might seem several lifetimes. His professional resume, government service, personal experiences and charitable work, including philanthropy that has benefited the Paterson Diocese, could fill an issue of The Beacon. He served has served as senior director of Goldman Sachs & Co. and spent eight years at Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., as head of the Corporate Finance Department, among other positions in finance, according to his resume.
In government, Healey served as former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury for domestic finance under President Reagan in the 1980s, on the U.S. Department of Labor’s ERISA Advisory Council in the 1990s and on the federal Securities Industry Protection Corporation as director. Today, Healey serves on a bi-partisan commission — appointed by Gov. Chris Christie — to find serious solutions to New Jersey’s entitlement crisis. He also had lectured at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.
Healey also has been active in the Church and charities. He chairs the Rockefeller Foundation Investment Committee; has served on the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management; and financially supports many institutions including St. Paul’s, diocesan Catholic Charities and the Tri-County Scholarship Fund. He has won many honors, including a Hall of Fame Award from Tri-County in 2011 and a Caritas Award from Catholic Charities in 2012.
Toward the start of the conversation at St. Paul’s, Healey described his typical Catholic upbringing in Baltimore in a devout family that produced a Maryknoll missionary priest, his brother Joseph. This prompted Father Manning to ask, “When did you become a conscious Catholic, internalizing the faith?”
“I don’t know that I was never not a conscious Catholic. I haven’t been tested yet,” said Healey, who later admitted confronting a serious challenge after his mother suffered a stroke at 62, leaving her brain dead. “The doctors convinced us [the family] that they couldn’t do anything. I had to understand that and think it through,” he said.
Later, Healey spoke about his tenure as an assistant U.S. Treasury secretary, noting, “I felt patriotic. I was with people who also were trying to do the right thing. It also was a less corrosive time in Washington back then than it is today.”
Then, Father Manning asked Healey how such a busy person as himself has maintained the “consistent practice” of Catholicism throughout his life.
“I’m married to a person with the same values. We reinforce each other and go to church together. We also have belonged to great parishes,” said Healey, married to Margaret, who together, have two children and nine grandchildren. “At work, I demonstrate integrity. I can be happy with friends if they are not Catholic, but they have to have similar values and make visible those values,” he said.
Toward the end of the conversation, Father Manning asked Healey, “What image of God is the most powerful to you?”
“For me, it’s purgatory. It’s a merciful thing. I’m not optimistic that I will go straight to heaven, but it shows that I’m on the right road,” said Healey, who was graduated from Georgetown University in 1964 and Harvard Business School in 1966.
Then, Healey suggested that audience members “use your imagination and connections,” when engaging in philanthropy, especially to “amplify smaller gifts for larger impact.”
“It’s about more than your check,” said Healey, who solicited inexpensive philanthropic ideas from audience members and gave some examples.
After the conversation with Healey that night, Father Manning noted, “What struck me about Tom is that he is so humble and unassuming. By developing and using the gifts that God has given to him, he has made a major impact on the world and the Church.”
The “Speaking of Faith” series concludes at St. Paul’s on Wednesday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. with Kerry Weber, managing editor of America Magazine.
Information: St. Paul Inside the Walls at (973) 377-1004