Make time for God, urges vocations series speaker

BOSTON -- Like many immigrants to the United States, Jo Tango sought to belong. He pursued wealth and recognition in the business world where he wanted to be “one of the guys,” he said.

When Catholics from Ireland, Italy and Poland immigrated to Boston, they too wanted to belong. Over time, they assimilated into the culture.

“Studies show that there’s no difference between Catholics and non-Catholics on views of birth control, abortion, divorce, social justice,” he said. “That means the Gospel is having no impact today on Boston Catholics because we look like and act like everybody else.”

Tango, owner of a venture capital firm, spoke to a room full of Catholics as part of the Christ Speaks in the City lunchtime lecture series sponsored by the Archdiocese of Boston’s Vocations Office. The talk was given at the Old Statehouse.

Tango spoke about “Making Time for God,” saying that he needs daily conversations with the Lord to stay the course. For that reason, Tango attends daily Mass as often as he can, he said.

Tango began and ended his lecture with a prayer and included quotes from Scripture as he shared his witness.

The Tango family moved from Indonesia to the Bronx when he was 3 years old.

After his mother fell ill, he and his sister became “orphans of living parents.” Throughout their childhood, they were sent to live with relatives and friends, at one time returning to Indonesia. They grew up with very little emotional security, but God restored what they lost in their childhood, he said.

“God is unlike our earthly fathers whom we need to forgive because they’re human,” he said. “With God we are always safe.”

Tango grew up seeking material success. He attended Yale and after graduation became an investment banker in New York City.

“I had everything the world says you should have, and when I was 21, I took a job on Wall Street. It was the highest-paying job you could get coming out of Yale. I took it for the money; that was it,” he said.

Despite his success, he was miserable, he said.

Tango was Catholic but not attending Mass regularly. He had called on God only in times of need, he said.

“I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, I had a transaction,” he said.

One day he went to a Catholic Church and prayed before the Blessed Sacrament, asking God to help him. Soon after, he quit his job, broke up with his girlfriend and moved to Boston. Then, he attended a young adult conference that changed his life, he said.

“They had something that I didn’t have -- that is the joy, the peace, the hope that you can only get from Jesus Christ,” he said.

Tango obtained his MBA from Harvard, and then worked for five years in management consulting. He worked at a venture capital firm in Boston for nine years before recently launching his own firm.

He founded a men’s Bible study and accountability group at St. Paul Parish in Cambridge, and said the support he receives from the group is a “lifeline.” Tango is also a co-founder of the Boston Catholic Men’s Conference.

Tango said that his involvement with the men’s conference has given him evidence of God’s miracles. In just a few years it has expanded and a women’s conference has been added, he said.

“In spite of our weaknesses these conferences are now the largest Catholic conferences in the nation,” he said. “It’s just a sign of God’s mercy in the archdiocese in the nation that is on its knees.”

Tango has also seen miracles working in his own family. He and his wife of 13 years have four children, one of whom had severe food allergies.

“You think that as a dad you can take her out for pizza, well, she can’t have meat, and she can’t have cheese,” he said.

He went on a retreat to pray for his daughter’s healing, and two days later blood tests found that many of her food allergies had disappeared, he said.

At the end of his presentation, Tango encouraged those in attendance to give their lives over to God.

“When I was younger I didn’t want to give my life to God because what I thought was, ‘You know what? He’s going to make me a missionary to Africa. He’s going to send me to the jungles, I’m going to marry a woman with a beard and we’re going to have 12 kids,’” he said.

That belief was a lie that kept him from giving his life to God. Now, he understands his identity as a man of God first.

“I’m not a venture capitalist. I’m a Catholic evangelist disguised as a venture capitalist,” he said.

The Christ Speaks in the City series began last fall with four talks and continues with four talks this spring. The two remaining speakers are Kerri Marmol on April 26 and Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley on May 24. All lectures are held at the Old Statehouse at noon and lunch is provided.