This week, Kurt Rall, who is president of the Our Lady of Unity School Business Team in Kansas City, Kansas, takes Leaven readers inside his ministry.
Q. What is your title and where do you minister?
A. I am president of Our Lady of Unity (OLU) School Business Team in Kansas City, Kansas. OLU is the sister parish of my home parish of St. Michael the Archangel in Leawood.
Q. Please describe what you do in your role with your ministry.
A. My role is to help guide and coordinate efforts with a team of energetic volunteers and school personnel to assist the OLU school business team. The team helps make it possible to families who want their children to get a Catholic education to send them to OLU. Fundraising is a huge part of that, either by asking folks to help directly or by hosting a school fundraiser, like “Hog and Grog,” etc.
Q. How would you describe how that particular ministry fits into the larger mission of the Catholic Church?
A. I believe we all are called to use our gifts and talents to serve others. To me, it’s more than a Catholic mission. We all have an obligation to help our fellow man and this is just one way we can do it.
Q. Is the work you do for your ministry what you set out to do in life?
A. I am in medical sales. My background is in communicating what is important, such as with families who desire a Catholic education and to have the ability to do so. I believe that everyone has a calling in life. My calling is to be a connector — whether in life, business or faith.
Q. If not, what road led you to this place?
A. I didn’t look for this opportunity. I was approached and when I toured the school and met the students, I saw the need and the statistics. I knew I needed to get involved and volunteer. Approximately 99% of families qualify for some type of financial assistance, while 88% of students are getting a free or reduced lunch.
Q. Did you collect some skills from other jobs along the way that have proved surprisingly applicable? If so, explain.
A. It’s not really a surprise. Yet, my professional life is relationship-based and connecting people, skills and resources. These skills have been helpful in my role with the OLU business team. In particular, I’ve made many friends in my parish and so I began by asking friends to help. Once I shared some of the general facts about OLU, most were more than willing to assist.
Q. What would the average Catholic be most surprised to learn about your job?
A. The need at many of the archdiocesan schools is broad and diverse. It was not until I visited OLU in the fall of 2019 that I was made aware of the opportunity to provide input and support. Getting a Catholic education is something so many families want, but can’t necessarily achieve. But, with financial assistance available from the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) and from the business teams established by the archdiocese, it’s possible. When you think about it, it’s a good value for the money spent.
Q. Who does your ministry primarily serve?
A. Our ministry serves the families, students and staff of Our Lady of Unity School in Kansas City, Kansas.
Q. What do you wish everybody knew about your ministry?
A. That many families desire a Catholic education but may not have the resources. This ministry is helping to make an impact on this need. I wish everybody could visit and meet the students at OLU. They are grateful for the education and their teachers.
Q. Why does the world need more of what you’re offering, do you think, especially right now?
A. Because of COVID, there’s an underlying tone of anxiety and angst among people right now, as well as a lot of judgment. Being able to redirect that mood into an opportunity to do good is such a blessing. You can never do enough good.
Q. What have you learned about people in this job?
A. When you ask, many fellow Catholics are willing and able to support the need. Quite simply, if you ask them to help financially, most people will say yes. And a yes is always a win. Even if an individual can’t help when you first ask, you’ve planted the seed for tomorrow.
Q. What have you learned about yourself?
A. Working with volunteers is rewarding and can be challenging all at the same time. Sometimes, you can overstep what is needed and lose track of the actual mission. Part of my job is to keep the team focused on the purpose of our school business team.
Q. Has it changed the way you view your identity as a Catholic, and if so, how?
A. I actually converted to Catholicism, so I was brought up in the Christian framework to give back to others. My wife and I value the Catholic education we were able to provide our children and felt that others should have a similar opportunity.
Kurt Rall is a member of St. Michael the Archangel in Leawood. He and his wife Jane have four children and one fabulous daughter-in-law. Kurt has worked in medical sales for more than 25 years.