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Mission & History: Telling the 'Deep Story'


Father Bernard Lee, S.M., calls it "The Beating of Great Wings"--the deep story that informs the prominent dates or accomplishments in an organization's history. Lee's particular focus is helping religious communities develop effective ways to reinvigorate their charisms--but businesses and secular organizations often face a similar challenge:

  • How do you keep the deep story alive, particularly for team members who weren't there at the beginning?
  • How do you capture a lift today--from the great wings that first animated your success decades (or perhaps even centuries) ago?


Click on the links below--to see how a good writer demonstrates affection and respect for the deep stories that really matter to an organization's future.


Marianist Province of the United States -- Alive magazine


Published three times a year, Alive magazine tells stories of how vowed Marianist brothers, priests and lay Marianists make a difference in the world. It's always a delight to interview them and help spread the Good News.

  • Summer 2019: "Ode to Joy" and "Living Chaminade's Dream"
  • Spring 2019: "In The Spirit of the Game"
  • Fall / Winter 2018: "Father Quentin's Light Bulb Moment" and "Brick-By-Brick"
  • Summer 2018: "Living the Consecrated Life"
  • Spring 2018: "Sing Louder!" and "House of Means"
  • Summer 2017: "A Legacy of Thankfulness"
  • Spring 2017: "Called To Sacramental Ministry" and "Paying It Forward"
  • Fall / Winter 2016: "We've Got To Do Something Here" Summer 2016: "Strength Among Friends"
  • Spring 2016: "LIFE's Treasures: Families reflect on the impact of Marianist LIFE"

La Salle Retreat Center, Glencoe, MO


Each year, well over 1,500 people make weekend retreats at this venerable facility in suburban St. Louis-- but few know the rich history of its first hundred years of service. To mark La Salle's 125th anniversary in 2011, John teamed with his wife Gerri--a staff member at the retreat house--to research and write an account that pays tribute to the center's Lasallian (Christian Brother) spirituality.


"On This Holy Ground: A Brief Walk Through the History of La Salle"


St. Anthony's Medical Center, St. Louis, MO.


Seeking to instill a spirit of servant leadership among its 4,200 employees, St. Anthony's Medical Center commissioned a mission and history video in 2006. We drew some parts of the story from archival materials, but relied primarily on the oral histories of retirees and the insights of current employees to weave a compelling narrative around the organization's vision and values for the 21st century.


"Past, Present & Future: St. Anthony's Legacy"



Shell Oil -- Houston, Texas


Is the 75th anniversary of a petroleum refinery really the stuff of history? It can be, if the one who tells the story can see beyond the maze of pipes and columns, or the dusty annals of dates and statistics. By intentionally taking a broad sweep, an intriguing image emerges--that of "a manufacturing hub around which a large chunk of a company was industrial center that played a key role in a nation's rise to prominence on the world stage...and a major contributor to a region's economy."


"The Wonder At Wood River: 75 Years of Progress"


Marianist Province of the United States
ALIVE Magazine, Marianists
La Salle Retreat Center, Glencoe, MO
On This Holy Ground, La Salle Retreat Center
Shell Oil
The Wonder At Wood River