Column: When a simple ‘thank you’ won’t suffice

by Lesle Knop

In any given week, priests baptize babies, witness marriages, inform would-be Catholics, visit hospitals, anoint our sick, hear confessions, bury our dead, answer phones, approve invoices, attend parish fundraising events and meetings — of the Knights of Columbus, the Boy Scouts, the art and environment committee, the liturgy committee, and the pastoral council. And sometimes they drive to the chancery for a committee meeting.

You would think they have nothing else to do.

The terms for several priests serving as members of the Clergy Advisory Committee have come to an end. After four or more years of service as advisers to Archbishop Emeritus James P. Keleher and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann for the Archbishop’s Call to Share annual appeal, they deserve a breather. Under their leadership, the gifts from throughout the archdiocese grew by almost 150 percent: from $2.9 million in 2004 to more than $4.3 million in 2007.

Among our retiring committee members is Father Mick Mulvany, pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Lawrence. His generous habit was to treat the stewardship and development staff to his home-baked gourmet chocolate chip cookies in addition to attention to the myriad questions we posed to him as chairman of the CAC since its formation following the archdiocesan capital campaign, A Future Full of Hope.

Father Mick is a passionate advocate for stewardship as a way of life. He accompanied several from his parish to the International Catholic Stewardship Council annual conferences and to regional conferences.

The pastor of Good Shepherd Parish in Shawnee, Father Francis Hund, is a retiring committee member whose prayers offered before and after our meetings were Spirit-filled and inspired the rest of us to respond to others in our meetings as he did: with kindness, good humor, and an encouraging word.

Father Al Rockers, pastor of Holy Angels Parish in Basehor, is a man whose love of Christ is evident in his eyes and in his joyful smile. In every situation, he listened, asked the right questions, and led us to the best decisions. Whether in choosing a theme or setting a goal, we listened to Father Al.

We will miss also Father Michael Hawken, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Shawnee, whose generous and good heart is as stalwart as his patron, St. Michael. His intelligence helped forge policies and procedures that will impact the Archbishop’s Call to Share for many years to come.

And finally, faithful Father Al Hauser, OSB, drove from his parish in Axtell to the chancery for numerous committee meetings and showed in many ways how much he cared about the impact the archbishop’s appeal had on his parish and region.

I am grateful to all our priests for the work they do each day. For those who gave countless hours in service to the many ministries and programs funded by the Archbishop’s Call to Share, a simple “thank you” is not sufficient. Their humility, however, prevents me from doing anything more.

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