While we never spoke about the tenets of our faith … I knew his belief was at the core of who he was, through his actions.
by Pallottine Blogger Patti Eischen
My father came from very, very humble beginnings. He was born in Oklahoma, just as the Depression was getting underway. You might recall seeing the “Dustbowl” photographs in your history books. He was very proud of the fact that he was literally born at home. His small town did not have a hospital at the time. The same home had no indoor plumbing.
He was Catholic in the missionary country of red dirt and Native Americans. He attended Catholic school from first grade through his senior year in high school. He served daily Mass in Latin. “Praise be Jesus Christ, good morning Monsignor,” was a required greeting. In college, he managed the Catholic fraternity house he joined.
Throughout his life, his Catholic faith was a constant. While we never spoke about the tenets of our faith as he wasn’t much of a deep talker, I knew his belief was at the core of who he was through his actions.
He volunteered for so many things at our parish in St Louis. Finance Committee, Fallfest, lecturer, usher, (much to my mother’s chagrin, I think). But it was the way he treated people, more than his volunteering, that exemplified his faith. He did not know a stranger. He worked hard to hire women and minorities in his job. He befriended a young mentally challenged boy in our neighborhood, allowing “Mike” to help him work on bikes and cars and home repair. He shared snow plowing and grass cutting duties with neighbors. The list could go on and on.
When he passed away at a very young age, I learned the full measure of him as a man and as a Catholic. At his wake, people from his work, people we had as guests over to our house for Thanksgiving because they were too far from family to travel, people we had lived all over the place with, queued around the building to pay their respects. The next day, the church was standing room only with people of all faiths–the first funeral out of a then newly-built church in which he served as president of the Finance Committee.
I think of him fondly, so thankful for someone like that in my life. My hero, really. Upon the rock of his faith he built his life, his work, his family. I like to think he must have heard at least one time the quote from Mother Teresa, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”