Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Making a Difference through our Labor

I’m not sure how old I was at the time, maybe 5 or 6, but one evening when the building was closed, my dad took me to see where he worked. It seemed like the coolest place in the world. He had a key for the elevator that made it work. He had a desk in an office, next to a big boiler. The place he worked was huge with room after room, big hallways and even a gym.

For years, my dad worked in maintenance for the Minneapolis Public Schools. My mom worked too, part time and then full time for a department store and then the gas company. While I doubt my dad would have said his job was as “cool” as I thought it was at 5, what I can say is that both of my parents worked hard and because of that, we had a good life growing up. They also made a big difference at the places they worked at, and in the process also taught me the value of hard work. Through it all, they also both worked hard at home while still finding the time to spend so much time with my sister and me growing up.

If you went into the school where my dad worked, or into my mom’s office, you might not know who they were or what they did. But what they did mattered a lot, and that is true for all of us in our vocations.

Sometimes I’ll get asked about the parish I serve. When I describe it as being over 2,000 families in size with 4 weekend Masses, the person might jump to the conclusion that I’m quite busy or that there’s a lot on my plate. I am busy to be sure, and there is a lot going on, but I’m also quick to share with the person that the job is made so much easier because of the great people around me. I’m part of a magnificent team at our parish.

This week, I’d just like to take the time to thank our staff for all that they do. My column space is too short to hit on every position, but I’d like to try my best to hit on some of the people you might not always see, but who are so instrumental to our parish thriving.

Randy Haney (recent birthday boy, and while I won’t reveal his age I’ll just say his first car was a Model T) is our Parish Director. Randy manages our staff, works on our budget, handles day-to-day operations for the parish, works with our commissions, and serves as a jack of all trades. What I love with Randy is he’s an entrepreneur. What I mean by that is a person in his position could “keep the lights on” and the pastor might not notice it, but he really sees big things for our parish, and cares about it so much. He’s always coming up with ideas for our parish to go from being great to being even better.

Jane Schmitz is our Office Manager. She works hard on the inflow and outflow of our parish funds, ensuring payroll is on time, helps with budgeting, keeps the books balanced, and works hard on our accounting. Jane works closely with Randy, and because there are so many funds going in and out of a parish our size, her position is vital.

  Patty Stibal is on the front lines of our parish as an Administrative Assistant. We like to call her “Director of First Impressions” too. Patty was one of the first people I met when I visited Saint Joe’s, and she’s such a delight. She is kind, patient and caring with all parishioners who call or come in. She gives support to both me and other staff. She goes the extra mile for people. She has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve ever met.

Maggie Roth serves as our Database and Finance Administrator. There are so many things that go on “behind the scenes” and Maggie helps to give support to other staff, keep our parish records up to date, and helps Randy with the daily operations of the parish & also assists our commissions.

Bobbi Neuens works in Communications. Thanks to Bobbi we have a great bulletin each week, and can get the word out to parishioners about all that’s going on at Saint Joe’s.

Pat Archer is our head of Maintenance. Pat works so hard for Saint Joe’s. There a million things that go on in our building – things need cleaning, things break, things need fixing, supplies need ordering. Pat seems to know it all, and if he doesn’t, he works hard at finding the answer to a problem. He also goes the extra mile in saving the parish money, checking and haggling with vendors for things we need to order. He’s come in on multiple occasions on evenings and weekends too when something wasn’t working right at the parish. On top of all this he has a heart of gold, always a smile and a positive attitude.

  Esther Jaeger is our Faith Formation Director. Esther cares deeply about passing the faith onto future generations and helping people grow in their own faith journey. She’s works hard to put together a great program.

Kathy Neary serves as our Sunday School coordinator. Thanks to Kathy, some of the youngest members of our parish are able to have the faith come alive for them each week.

Bridget Samson is our Director of Parish Life. It goes without saying we have a plethora of ministries and programs that happen year round at St. Joe’s. Not to mention the big upcoming Harvest Festival, and our 150th anniversary celebration. Bridget helps keep the excitement up at our parish, and helps get people involved so we can help provide great ministries to you.

  Kyle Finken is our Coordinator of Pastoral Ministry. Kyle has a huge heart and helps coordinate our Samaritan ministers who visit the sick, and works with families who have suffered a loss as they prepare for funerals. He’s helped to grow the program and is so helpful to me in my vocation too as I minister to people in need.

  Kelly Roche enters her 2nd year as our principal, and boy has she done a great job. She’s helped continue our traditional of excellence, and build up the school even more by bringing such a positive attitude to the staff. She has a passion and love for our school, and is a true blessing. The principal has a tough job, having to oversee curriculum, work with teachers and staff, deal with budgeting issues, but Kelly works so hard to make our school great.

  Cris Meaden is on the front lines of our school. Assisting Kelly in her work, she works with parents, and also heads up athletics at our parish school. She’s great with our school kids, and keeping things on track at the school, and working with parents too.

  Bill Bradley is our Director of Worship. Thanks to Bill, we have so many involved in music ministry and in our liturgies. Bill helps to make liturgy beautiful at Saint Joe’s, so our liturgies can truly bring people closer to God on their faith journeys.

There are MANY people missing from this column – all of our great teachers, and a number of our part-time staff and some of our maintenance staff as well. Also missing is the lengthy, lengthy list of those who give so freely of their time in volunteer ministries. Because of you, people can come together for a Harvest Festival. Because of you, families can find comfort by being with one another at a funeral luncheon. Because of you, our school can function better because you give of your time. The list is endless in terms of the people who volunteer, and the impacts that they have.

My hope is that as you celebrate Labor Day Weekend, you never forget that whatever you do, you make a difference for your families. Work matters. And my hope too is that when you think of Saint Joe’s, you never forget all that goes into our parish every day of the year. I am truly blessed to be here to work with such great people, who see what they do not as just a “job” but as a true ministry.

 

Have a very great Labor Day weekend.     ~ Fr. Paul