Joseph Agnello: Purpose, passion, and relationships make life meaningful

  • Tags: Achievements
Published 12/07/2018
Joe Agnello Grad Photo

Joe Agnello Grad Photo

Following my retirement, I enrolled in a philosophy class at Elgin Community College. When family and friends questioned me why I took this class at my age, I was stunned. I assumed it was a natural choice given what I have been through over the past 55 years in the human services field.

Throughout my career, my passions drove me into positions to help people in distress. I am a veteran, and the war in Vietnam forced me to examine how people treat other people; I wanted to discover better ways of dealing with conflict than violence. My studies in human services at ECC helped me reflect on my career. My faith in God and my family kept me strong and courageous, and I’ve also developed amazing competencies for helping people realize how valuable and important they are.

While working as a hospice chaplain, I helped many people review their lives while they laid on their deathbeds. Some felt they waited too long to celebrate, to reconcile, to reminisce, and to express gratitude, but as a student, that is exactly what I have been doing.

While living in a Nazi concentration camp, Viktor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist, came to believe that striving to find meaning in one's life is the most powerful motivator and driving force for people (“In Search of Meaning”). I, too, believe it’s relationships that make life meaningful. We all need to learn to protect our most precious relationships and to celebrate life and our accomplishments a little more.

~ Joe Agnello, Elgin