‘Gratitude’ the attitude of volunteer

by Joe Bollig

OVERLAND PARK — When pressed to describe his service to Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish here in just two or three words, Kevin Caldwell couldn’t do it.

Caldwell’s volunteerism is more appropriately listed than described.

He’s a sacristan, men’s group table leader, on-call rosary leader before Mass, cantor, lector, replenisher of candles, Mass server, cleanup guy and dishwasher after funeral dinners, novena leader and acolyte, and is part of the lead group with Christ Renews His Parish.

And he makes sure the church doors are open on time at the start of the day, and the doors are locked and lights out at the end of the day.

Caldwell is the quintessential, all-around “five-tool player” kind of volunteer at the parish.

It wasn’t always this way.

“I was not one of the early birds,” he said. “I’ve been a lector since 1978, when I was 24 or 25 years old and slowly worked my way into some of the ministries. I was on the school council when my daughter was younger. But I didn’t get super involved with the church. I was more family oriented. I wasn’t a part of groups.”

The opportunity to do more service at the parish presented itself nine years ago when he retired at age 55. He had the time, the desire and the ability to do more.

“Our daughter was out of school and on her own when I retired, and my wife was still working,” he said. “I was at a point financially where our daughter was raised and she didn’t have any student debt, and we were on easy street, for the most part. I took retirement in preparation for a life of volunteering.”

Despite all that he does, Caldwell doesn’t consider himself remarkable in any way. Rather, he has deep admiration for the “unsung,” less visible parish volunteers who do so much.

“There are other people up here who cut the bushes, keep the grounds looking really nice and plant the flowers, and others who take care of the altar linens, vacuum the church and do all sorts of volunteer stuff, and you don’t even know that they’re there,” he said.

So why does he do it? That’s easily said in just one word: gratitude.

“Of all the blessings that I have gotten in my lifetime, I need to give back,” he said. “This is my thank you to God, my tiny bit of worship that I can do. That’s what I get out of it.”

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