Just when you’re tempted to think the world has gone off its axis and things are getting worse and not better, along comes a group of stories and individuals in the Archdiocese of Louisville who refute that contention.
Recent editions of The Record have been full of such examples.
First there was the inspiring piece by Record Assistant Editor Marnie McAllister about the work of Joe Durbin of Immaculate Conception Church in La Grange, Ky. In case you missed it, Durbin, with the help of volunteers from his church and others, mounted an ecumenical effort to help poor families in Henry County, Ky.
McAllister reported that 19 percent of the families in that county east of Oldham County — which has become something of a bedroom community for the Louisville area — live below the poverty line. So rather than watching that poverty engulf families in his part of Kentucky, Durbin and others formed the Henry County Help Center in late November. It’s located in Eminence, the county seat of Henry County, and it is needed now as never before.
Stan Siegwald of Dare to Care, the food bank which does so much to help poor people throughout the Louisville area and in surrounding counties, was quick to join Durbin’s effort and now provides about 2,000 pounds of food each week to the center, according to McAllister’s reporting.
In a conversation last fall, Siegwald noted that as federal assistance to the poor dries up, little by little — as food stamps become harder to qualify for and as unemployment aid ends for tens of thousands in Kentucky — providing enough food to feed the area poor is becoming an increasingly difficult proposition.
Durbin is helping right that wrong in our society, and he and those helping him are to be commended.
So is Terry Roberts, a teacher at Presentation Academy.
As reported in last week’s Record by Jessica Able, Roberts initially didn’t want people to know that she’d donated one of her kidneys to a U.S. Army veteran she’d never met, an American hero who was injured by an improvised explosive device (the dreaded IED) while serving in Afghanistan.
Like so many soldiers and Marines who’ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan, the IED that changed Specialist Daniel Ruckel’s life forever left him with a brain injury. The man from Lexington took medication that helped heal his brain, but that same medication was hard on his kidneys. Eventually, they failed and Roberts heard about Ruckel’s story on a local TV news show.
And she was physically moved to act, she told Able. “I had an actual physical reaction, an electrical reaction,” she said. “I felt it (donating one of her kidneys) was something I needed to do.”
Actually, she said, it was something that God asked her to do. “I felt like God touched me and asked me to do this. How do you say no?” she asked.
She didn’t. She answered God’s call and Daniel Ruckel’s need. She put the Gospel call into action and she serves as an example for the rest of us.
We’ve all read and heard about Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s, and now Pope Francis’ call to a “new evangelization,” and the people of Holy Spirit Church have taken that call to heart.
In The Record’s last issue of 2013, Jessica Able wrote about Holy Spirit’s evangelization campaign which began last June called “Door to Door: We Pray.”
The idea is simple — the people of the parish visit neighbors in the St. Matthews area surrounding their church, not to proselytize but to introduce themselves and their church.
According to Holy Spirit Pastor Fred Klotter, they want to let their neighbors know that the church is available to them, and they solicit prayer requests from households if the people request them.
“We just say ‘hello’ and introduce ourselves,” Father Klotter explained, “tell them the parish is here and ask if there is anything we can do.”
The pastor said parishioners go out two-by-two to households within the parish boundary — usually one or two groups go out each week, he said.
It’s a simple idea and it has been well received by the neighborhood. Chester Misbach, a volunteer in the effort, told Able that the program is a perfect fit for him. He likes meeting new people and talking with them, “so this is perfect for me,” he said.
“The idea of going door to door to offer prayer for intentions and to introduce the parish to people” is appealing, he said.
And it’s a wonderful thing do to. Just like Roberts’ kidney donation and Joe Durbin’s work to create a food bank. They are a few examples of the people of the archdiocese at their best.