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  • Reverend James Squire


I have known Pat Croce since he was a nobody. When I first met him, I was taken by his “can do” spirit, his overwhelming energy as I thought that he was about to leap out of his skin, his motivation, and his concern for physical fitness of people who weren’t taking that seriously at the time.

I was always on the hunt for speakers who would inspire the students at EA so I asked him to come and speak to the community. He was a motivational speaker at that point in time so he readily agreed. There is no way that I could describe what he did on the stage in our theater, but suffice it to say that the people who heard him and saw him in action thought that they could run through walls when he had finished. He refused any honorarium.

The next year I called him again to give us a “booster shot.” He was on his way to being somebody. He said, “Jim, I am sorry but I just signed with an agent, and I can’t do anything without him approving, and there is a hefty fee attached.” I thanked him, we had a great conversation, and off he and I went.

Since I retuned to the Philadelphia area after school in the Northeast and South, I saw his career take off. He became a physical therapist, started Novacare, sold it for $40 million dollars, and became a minority owner and President of the 76ers. I lost track of him after he had a motorcycle accident that almost cost him a leg although I was also aware that he had bought some restaurants in Key West, one of my favorite spots.

Yesterday, I opened my email to read an article in the “Philadelphia Citizen” by Larry Platt.

I was shocked to discover in the article that for the past six years Croce has been on a spiritual quest which is based in meditation and being still. Since Croce recently learned of his diagnosis of Lymphoma, he has now launched an approach for the American Cancer Society that focuses on science as well as what he has learned on his spiritual journey. Keep in mind that if there was a category in his high school yearbook for the person who was least likely to achieve or be still, it would be Pat Croce.

The point of Platt’s article is that the nation could use some channeling of Croce. We need to turn inward to our spiritual selves and clean up all of that stuff that continues to get in the way of being helpful to our own selves and others.

As I reading the article I was struck about how much, you the reader, have seen in my memoir and posts that was me channeling some of Croce. We should replace “What is in it for me?” to “How can I help you be all that you want to be?” and it starts with soul work.

Here are some areas where Croce and I connected as per the article by Larry Platt. Croce reached a point in his life where he raised an important question. In my opinion, it is the important question to start looking at the soul work that you, I, and the nation should examine. That question is, “How did I get here from there? Who and what helped me along the way?” My memoir is obviously about me, but that is the least important part of the book. It is really about chasing that question, “How did I get here from there? Who or what helped me along the way?” What am I doing here?” (spoiler alert) I don’t even mention that until the last page of the book. The book is a head fake to encourage others to go after that question.

Everybody loves the guy who “is a resilient underdog from the other side of the tracks.” That is Croce and that is me. Who would put their money on a kid such as myself with a father with a 6th grade education and a mother graduating from High school living in a depressed blue collar community with not much encouragement for education beyond high school? Why do people like that story? Why did they love Rocky? I believe that it is because it lets us see not Rocky or me but the tacit dimension of who and what helped along the way. They are the really important people. Nobody does it on their own although erroneously people may come away with that impression. Maybe my hope would be that folks see the role that Rocky’s trainer and girlfriend have in helping him to make it. For Croce, it was his wife, Diane. If you read my book or blog, you will see mine.

Croce taught the city of Philadelphia to believe again in themselves albeit through a sports team. We need to believe in ourselves, our neighbor, and our nation more fervently to begin to have the thought that changes our souls, “Think of the other person first.” I received a text out of the blue yesterday that read: “How about ____ getting into that great university for graduate

school. You’ll get partial credit for that.” My response was: “The secret is that I treated him as someone who would do great things. More important it was the role of you and ______. I got my money on you inspiring him for a long time.” There isn’t anyone who doesn’t want someone to believe in them and we as a nation need to get on board that pivotal notion. Believe in others and acting on it is at the heart of making the Covid-19 virus be reduced and Black Lives Matter succeed. In Christianity and other world religions, it is formed in the golden rule. “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

In a few days I will preside at the memorial service of one of the great surgeons in the Philadelphia area who died too young of a brain tumor at 57. I was asked how I would approach things to celebrate his life. I responded by saying that “Dr. Gary Rosato was a great guy who was real. The motto of our school is Esse Quam Videri, to be rather than to seem to be. Be real. Be authentic. I will speak about a statement that we need to change about our soul. “Gary doesn’t have a soul. He is a soul.” This implies the definition of religion which means to connect to self, others, and God. It comes from the Latin root, ligare, which means to connect. This doctor spent a great deal of time with his skilled hands as a surgeon dealing with various body parts and ligaments which is a word also derived from ligare as well. We need to know the soul work that we and our nation need to claim.” Believe!"

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