by Moira Cullings
OLATHE — Starting a new parish is an adventure full of promise.
St. John Paul II parishioner Dale Girard knows that all too well.
As a volunteer for the parish’s Welcome Team, Girard has dedicated much of his free time to evangelizing Olathe Catholics, warmly inviting them to join the new St. John Paul II community.
The first task of the Welcome Team?
Delivering cups door to door in an effort to get more Catholics within the parish boundaries to register as parishioners.
“Father [Andrew Strobl] asked for volunteers to create some cups that had general information in [them] that introduced the staff, gave telephone numbers and Mass times,” said Girard.
“His intention was to help everyone register, so [he asked] us to deliver the cups to their houses,” he said.
Girard stepped up to the plate and went above and beyond what was expected of him.
“While most Welcome Team members distributed about 10 cups each, Dale Girard has been the welcome cup champion, hitting the streets to deliver cups to 125 households so far,” said parish secretary Jenna Wombwell.
“Dale humbly and happily returns to our parish office about once a week asking for more cups to deliver,” she said.
“Dale’s gentle servant spirit truly extends Christ into our neighborhoods,” she continued. “His generous efforts are invaluable to the establishment of our St. John Paul II Parish community.”
Girard’s prolific efforts are largely due to the extra free time he’s had since retiring from his job as controller at Community America Credit Union last April.
“I’ve done little [volunteer] things off and on through my life,” said Girard, “but . . . this is really the biggest thing I’ve ever done timewise.”
Girard also counts the parish’s weekend collection about every other week.
But with the vibrant energy and enthusiasm of St. John Paul II, the need for a strong Welcome Team is the parish’s main focus.
“The Welcome Team is the outward inviting hands of our parish,” said Wombwell. “This ministry is key in our evangelistic efforts to reach out to our neighbors, let them know our parish exists and help them feel at home at St. John Paul II Parish.”
Girard has been a critical member of that team.
“It’s fun being part of a new parish,” said Girard.
“There’s things particularly in a new parish that they need help to get started, and it’s a time in my life when I’m available,” he added.
Girard looks forward to serving the Welcome Team down the road when new projects arise.
“[I hope] to be more involved, know more people and promote the church, and I’m sure we will increase the membership of our church,” he said.