Pro-life inspiration sometimes shows up in the strangest places. Opening up an invoice, for example, and finding Mother Teresa’s words about the sanctity of all human life is not your typical workday fare.
But at Messengers International, a Toronto-based courier company, seeking opportunities to share inspiration is but one way to add zest to life’s more mundane activities.
Founded 17 years ago, Messengers International takes seriously its aim to put a more human face on ordinary commercial operations. The company quickly carved out a special niche for itself in the highly competitive courier business. While by no means a big player, Messengers has quietly earned a reputation for going that extra mile in support of its customers. All staff, from inside office workers to the couriers themselves, are encouraged to comport themselves with professionalism and a sense of respect.
Messengers today provides delivery services to local, national and international destinations, with regular, “super rush” and VIP service levels. One way that makes the company stand out from its competitors, however, is a practice begun about 10 years to insert special inspirational messages in invoices.
Company president Frank D’Angelo said the practice has the practical value of making customers look forward to receiving their Messengers bill. At the same time, the messages allow D’Angelo to fulfill a long-standing ambition to promote positive social and pro-life sentiments to the people around him.
“We try to strike a fine balance with our customers,” D’Angelo told The Interim in a recent interview. “We don’t want to scare the customers with hard-hitting messages, but we do try to share our pro-life ideals as best we can.”
The messages are culled from a variety of sources – some from D’Angelo’s fecund imagination, others from faith-based periodicals, or sometimes from internet websites. They are often based on seasonal events such as New Year’s, Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day, but they are also used to promote special fund-raising efforts embraced by D’Angelo and the Messengers team.
One invoice insert ballooned to an eight-page tribute to Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Eschewing the politically correct line that shirks from any mention of traditional faith, the insert included some of Mother Teresa’s words at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. – “I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”
Whatever the source, however, story-laden invoices are certainly unique in today’s service companies. Frank D’Angelo’s pro-life, pro-family sentiments have in fact become as evident as the long, white ponytail he sports in his cramped but cozy office in the heart of Toronto’s financial district. A member of the board of directors at Toronto Right to Life, D’Angelo does his level best to make things a little brighter for his 110 employees and for those dealing with the Messengers team.
While a few customers over the years have objected to the messages, D’Angelo reports that the majority of recipients react positively. “Some have even told me that they look forward to receiving our invoices because they are eager to see what kind of story or message we have cooked up,” he said. “We certainly don’t force these beliefs on our customers, and if one or two customers have objected, we’ve found that over time the messages have had a positive effect.”
But if the inserts have a novelty or curiosity value, the have also become D’Angelo’s way of doing something more meaningful in the workplace, and for those he comes in contact with through Messengers International. “I see it as my small way to make a difference in people’s lives,” D’Angelo said. “If we can plant a few seeds about the sanctity of life, then I believe it will be more worthwhile.”
To that end, D’Angelo is replete with ideas about using his customer network to promote awareness of charities or even to raise money on their behalf. Some of the target agencies, such as Rosalie Hall and Aid to Women, are well known to Canada’s pro-life community. D’Angelo’s philanthropy however, is not limited to front-line, pro-life organizations. His vision to make a positive difference goes far beyond the business bottom line.
During the 1980s, D’Angelo took time away from Messengers International to show his support for Operation Rescue activities, and for the last dozen years or so, he has traveled down to Washington, D.C. in January to participate in the national March for Life. Despite these activities, the insert project and his fund-raising ambitions for various charities, D’Angelo sometimes wonders if he is doing enough to promote a culture of life.
But if the individual is often his or her own worst critic, it is wise to look to anyone to provide perspective. Natalie Hudson, executive director of Toronto Right to Life, might dispute D’Angelo’s suggestion that he isn’t doing enough. His twice-monthly messages, she says, help, uplift, inspire and make people think about what is truly good and right. “He is deeply committed to what is good, just, noble and right. He has been on the board of Toronto Right to Life for over 10 years, has been to practically every March for Life in Canada and the U.S. for as many years, and has stuck with the movement through thick and thin. He has put his money where his mouth is and has given generously of his own financial resources to the movement. I can quite honestly say that if we had more Frank D’Angelos in the world, there wouldn’t be an abortion problem.”