Leaving material success for a life of loyalty and daily love to fellow community members

Bill Cleva

Bill Cleva 1951 –

By 1978, five years after Bill had graduated from Notre Dame, he was working as a civil engineer on the ninety-second floor of the World Trade Center and possessed every material trapping that was to have guaranteed happiness.

But two years later, he quit his job for good, “totally finished” with the corporate world and his yuppie lifestyle.  The near catastrophe at Three Mile Island, plus a scandal involving the Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Westinghouse, and construction of that country’s first nuclear plant played a decisive role:

I was not just disillusioned.  It was a much deeper restlessness – a divine dissatisfaction that can only be explained as an intervention from God.  I didn’t will it on myself, and it didn’t feel very divine at the time.  My family, colleagues, and friends thought I was crazy.  Some stopped talking to me altogether.

In 1994, after years of intense searching for something that would fill the void in his heart, Bill became a member of the Bruderhof. Reflecting on what he found, he says:

My initial infatuation with the outer workings of the community was before very long swallowed up by the overriding demands of trying to put Jesus’ teachings into daily practice.  The sacrifices never lessen. Yet here is a movement of brotherly and sisterly community that has been sustained for almost one hundred years by nothing but the fidelity of otherwise flawed people, and by the corresponding leading of the Spirit.  I am not aware of any other such comprehensive answer to the ongoing need of the human condition as brotherly and sisterly community.

Now Christians can live with one another in peace; they can love and serve one another; they can become one. But they can continue to do so only by way of Jesus Christ. Only in Jesus Christ are we one, only through him are we bound together.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pastor and theologian 1906–1945
Evening fishing at Danthonia’s stocked pond

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