Credit: Illustration by Brian Taylor

Former Maryland state Del. Mark Shriver (D) is president of Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School and Corporate Work Study Program, a private Catholic college prep institution in Takoma Park. The Rockville native and Georgetown Prep grad lives in Bethesda with his wife, Jeanne, to whom he has been married for 31 years. The two are empty nesters now that the final Shriver teen has flown the coop for college (all three opted for Boston College). He is the son of philanthropic luminaries Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, whose legacies as leaders for the marginalized and underprivileged clearly have made a lasting impact.

I never had a “road to Damascus moment” where I got knocked off my donkey, but the framework from which I was born and raised around is a saying from the Scriptures, “That you know to whom much is given, much is demanded.” And I think that speaks to, at least to me, from a place of guilt. It took me a long time to move from that place of feeling like I had to do something; to me it comes from a place of duty and responsibility and not as much from joy. I don’t want to say I was guilt-ridden, but to find joy, for me, is an ongoing mission. 

I believe deeply in a couple of lines from the Scriptures, one from the Old Testament Book of Micah: “This is what Yahweh asks of you; only this: to act justly, to love tenderly, and walk humbly with your God.” I love the word “only,” as if to act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly is not that hard. It is, you know. God only asks you to do “only” these three little things as if it’s easy. It’s a great, joyful challenge, and for me, for a long part of my life, it wasn’t joyful. I use that word “joy” because you have to find joy—it’s not necessarily happiness or fun.

I am now trying to come from a place where it is better to give than to receive. And if you can act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God, that’s a lot better place to be coming from. 

I think I receive more than I give every day. I don’t feel as guilty about it as I did 20 or 30 years ago. I try to come at it now from a position of gratitude and then share it joyfully, whatever it is.

My job as president of Don Bosco brings me joy. Our students work one day a week at jobs, for example, at Ernst & Young or Children’s [National] Hospital, and they go to school four days a week. (Editor’s note: Two Don Bosco students interned in 2022-23 at MoCo360.) They give up a lot if they must work and miss basketball practice or band practice—these young people are earning their own scholarships. They’re working hard and they’re inspiring. That brings me joy. They’re really pursuing the American dream; the goal is for them to go to college and get through college, and for most of them, nobody in their family has gone to college.


My father always told me the hardest thing to do is listen. If you really listen, it’s exhausting. Most people don’t listen—they judge and give their opinion immediately. They pretend they’re listening, but they’ve already formed what they’re going to say as compared to really listening to where that person is coming from or what they are saying. I try to listen more. I try to be present in the moment. And I try to share joyfully. 

This story appears in the September/October issue of Bethesda Magazine.