Join us for the Fifth Sunday of Easter

Join us for the celebration of Mass for the Fifth Sunday of Easter! 

We have been working hard to help you all access our live streams in the easiest, most convenient way. To this end, we have now set up a new page on our website where you can conveniently view the most recent Mass without having to follow a Mass-specifiic link or go to our YouTube channel. From now on, we will be directing you to that page, although you are still welcome to go directly to our YouTube channel if you wish!
Thanks to our fantastic volunteers, we will again be live streaming two different Masses this weekend. We will be streaming the 5 pm Mass on Saturday, and the 10 am Mass on Sunday. 

You can join the live streams at the buttons below. Both will also be saved to our Youtube Channel for later viewing.

Tiny Saints Fundraiser

We are excited to announce that we have teamed up with Tiny Saints® to host a contact-free, online fundraiser!

Family and friends can shop from the comfort of home throughout the month of May to support our fundraiser. All they need to do is select “Our Lady of Perpetual Help–OH” from the dropdown menu at www.tinysaints.com. With that, 25% of every order from our supporters will go directly to our fundraiser. All proceeds from this fundraiser will go to our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program, which equally benefits our PSR and school. It’s that simple!

Tiny Saints® sells colorful and vibrant charms, rosaries, plushies, board books and lanyards, all themed around the saints. At $5-15, Tiny Saints® products make fun, affordable gifts and offer something for everyone.

This promises to be an exciting fundraiser! Don’t forget to visit www.tinysaints.com and select “Our Lady of Perpetual Help–OH” from the dropdown!

Staff Profile: Brad Allen | Homecoming

Brad Allen is a product of Our Lady of Perpetual Help School and has never really left our parish family. His senior year of high school he started working with the BASE program (at that time referred to as Latchkey.) While in college, he returned every Summer to further work at our parochial schools, and upon graduating in 2009, with an English degree began working as a Kindergarten aide for Chrissy Dembinski.

In what seems to be a common theme I have discovered; Brad was asked by Julie Freeman to “just” take over responsibility for the school’s Facebook page. Then Debbie Ippoliti retired from the school and that evolved into Brad becoming responsible for enrollment, marketing, and outreach. This is a role he has held at the school for six years. 

As Brad phrases it, “Julie knows your strengths and weaknesses and brings out the best of you.”

Clearly this is an impressive and diverse collection of responsibilities, but Brad explains “It’s all for the kids; I want to be part of their journey.” He still remembers the first tour of the school he gave to a new family considering Our Lady’s school and that student is now nearing graduation into high school. Brad enjoys being that first contact for these new families and takes pride in, “showing them everything we are about.” 

For him, the school not only educates our youngest parishioners, but also “reinforces Catholic social teaching.” Helping with that reinforcement, Brad finds particular value in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, how the school evangelizes to the entire parish, and even helps lapsed Catholics to return to the Church. I can attest to that as my own twins enrolling at the preschool drew me back to the Church and strengthened my own faith. 

Regarding those evangelization efforts, Brad works closely with Amanda Athey in the preschool to hopefully enroll those kids into the school. Our Lady’s school is currently enrolling and Brad laughs, “I’m on the phone a lot with Mandy and we have a great working relationship.” Having previously worked with the BASE program and getting to know Amanda makes that relationship easier. Much like Fr. Watson knowing essentially every Catholic in Central Ohio reminds me of Brad having those “working relationships” with almost everyone in our parish.

Further reinforcing those relationships is his involvement with the school’s social media accounts. In that role, he works closely with Melissa Zuk who is responsible for the parish’s social media engagement. Brad takes this very seriously, “There’s some platforms we just don’t want the school represented on and if the school is on those places the kids will think it’s okay.” Despite that, Brad wants our school to be involved in social media and not only use it as a means to connect with parishioners, but “to be a formational tool.” 

He explains, “That’s where our families are” and expounds, “Our parish is actually very young and they’re on social media.” 

Given his involvement with the school, the preschool, and the parish, Brad is very cognizant of how all three entities are interwoven. The school reinforces what the parish teaches on Sundays, and the parish offers opportunities for the kids to continue their Catholic formation outside of those Sundays. As the kids progress through their Sacraments of Initiation, Brad firmly believes, “Our school is doing what it is supposed to be doing.” In his view, “All three buildings are connected” [church, preschool, and school.]

Brad was previously a student at Our Lady’s school and is currently amazed at how much was going on behind the scenes to provide an excellent academic and Catholic education to the kids. “Every piece is integral and now I get to see all aspects of what goes on.” He pauses and then laughs, “Still, it’s wild to me as a former student.”

Outside of the school, Brad is obsessed with live entertainment; concerts, movies, and plays. He is also an enthusiastic cinephile with an interest in classic, documentary, and foreign films. His favorite movie is the 1952 romantic comedy film Singin’ in the Rain with Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds. As Brad describes it, “The movie brings me joy.” Obviously, the pandemic has curtailed these activities, but Brad is looking forward to them returning to them and having previously interviewed Denise Johns, I know that is a common wish.

Regarding coming home, one of Brad’s favorite activities at the school is the “Senior Salute.” This is where the graduating senior alums are honored for their tenure and time at OLPH school. They announce their intended colleges and are “clapped out” by the entirety of the school. I attended a public school which bounced between elementary, middle, and high schools and never had that opportunity to be a part of a community where nine years of your formative development are spent in the same place with the same family. However, I distinctly remember my technical school in the Air Force where we went through a similar process with the graduating airmen. It was equal parts envy and pride watching the graduating class. 

Two of the things I pride myself on (okay, my wife would argue I pride myself on quite a few things… and not in a good way) are listening more than I speak and paying attention. One of the things I noticed while speaking with Brad was a semicolon tattoo on his arm. As we were finishing our interview, I asked him about it, assuming it had to do with his university English degree.

It turns out that I was mistaken; that semicolon is a proud statement of supporting mental health. It is a brazen and outspoken affirmation against self-harm and suicide that Brad wears. I have a number of tattoos, perhaps more than I should have, but was very humbled to hear Brad’s explanation of that particular tattoo. 

Perhaps associated with that tattoo, Brad’s greatest wish is for world peace. He qualifies, “Not just the stereotypical world peace.” Brad further explains, “There’s a lot of violence from differences and I just want everyone to see and celebrate those differences, but still.” Then he stops and thinks and adds, “I want us all to be able to live together. That’s why I work here and I want to help all the students to realize this.” 

By Eric Brooks

Join us for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

Join us for the celebration of the Fourth Sunday of Easter! Thanks to our fantastic volunteers, we will again be live streaming two different Masses this weekend. You can join the live streams at the buttons below. Both will also be saved to our Youtube Channel for later viewing.

We hope you all have a blessed weekend!

Staff Profile: Tina Lee | Unique

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Mt 5:9)

Unlike many of the people I have spoken with, Tina Lee’s path to her current position was uniquely straightforward. She is in her 3rd year as Director of Student Services at our parochial school and has always wanted to be an educator. Tina knew this from a young age and established a pretend school in the screened-in back porch of her parents’ house. Aptly named “Tina’s School” what started as a pretend school was soon conducting actual classes. She ran Tina’s School for two or three years and at its height was running two daily sessions with twelve or thirteen kids in each. Tina also remembers that her parents “strongly recommended” her young brother attend these sessions which, of course, resulted in him becoming the resident troublemaker. 

From there she attended Capital University and obtained a degree in elementary education, later earning certifications as a reading specialist and intervention specialist. After teaching at a secular school, it was the latter of these two that drew her to Our Lady of Perpetual Help school. At the time there was a single part-time interventionist, and with the support of Julie Freeman she has since expanded the program to five full-time dedicated specialists. They serve students with academic, behavioral, physical, and social challenges.

Additionally, she serves on the Intervention Assistance Team (IAT) coordinated by Denise Johns. This incorporates her intervention specialists while also coordinating with administration, Denise, and teachers. The students helped by the IAT do not require full-time involvement with intervention specialists but benefit from that additional support in order to make them more successful in a traditional classroom setting.

As Tina describes it, her job is to “coordinate services” at the school to help any student needing some extra support. Under this model the entire OLPH school faculty and staff work together for these students. Tina also actively engages parents to “reach out and don’t wait” for that extra help with their children. She further explains, “I always want them to know they are not the only ones with kiddos that need some extra help and it’s never a reflection of them as parents.”

In fact, Tina finds herself drawn to these unique kids and feel they are equally drawn to her. Although masked during our interview I can tell she is smiling when she adds, “The more unique they are, the more I’m drawn to them.” This reminds me of lyrics from the Baz Luhrmann song Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen, “The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.” 

One of Tina’s greatest joys is watching these unique kids adapt and overcome their personal challenges during their time at the school. “Sometimes it takes two or three years, but you see a lot of growth. And then there’s a breakthrough and it’s so fun to watch. It’s like they’re a member of my own family” As we were speaking one of her kids stopped by Tina’s office and without pause, she instantly was able to tell him what his morning looked like and offer him some guidance. 

Being part of a parochial school is important to Tina and she is extremely impressed by the commitment and dedication of both our parents and students. In those students Tina also finds they exhibit respect and reverence in both their academic and sacramental lives. For anyone who wants to know the character of OLPH schoolkids, she encourages them to attend an all-school weekday mass. She is also deeply moved as they progress through the Sacraments of Initiation; Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation. 

Tina reflects on that same student that stopped by her office when we were speaking. Her own youngest daughter is in the 8th grade and recently went through Confirmation, as did that student. “It brought tears to my eyes.” She pauses and then adds, “You find Jesus here [in the school].”

The rapid development of the intervention staff and adding new services has been exciting for Tina, but also “scary for sure.” She is now the one that everyone else goes to for answers, but also has great support from administration and is able to coordinate and network with other diocesan elementary schools on best practices. Tina very much wants Our Lady’s school to provide services for every unique student facing their unique challenges. 

One of her greatest fears is for a family to withdraw their child because the school cannot meet their needs and to that end uses every resource at her disposal. Examples of this are Our Lady school capitalizing on the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship and partnering with Columbus Therapy for speech and occupational therapy services. Tina further explains, “We are still evolving and learning and sometimes OLPH isn’t the best fit for all students. This truly keeps me up at night, but I know we have to take it slow and try to get it right.”

Perhaps Tina’s greatest challenge is balancing her time. She is a teacher, test coordinator, administrator, and all these roles overlap throughout every day. Tina does her best to balances these roles, but they can conflict, and she wants everyone to know they are individually important to her despite the shuffling. Sometimes she also needs to prioritize her time and rearrange issues to the next day and this is particularly difficult for her. The intervention program has grown so quickly and generated so much interest among parents and students that she is still adapting. Servicing some of the unique moderate to intensive needs is an area they are still currently working to address. 

Outside of the school Tina enjoys good food, good coffee, and athletics, having a background in swimming and teaching swimming lessons. She also loves volleyball, having played and coached the sport. However, her two daughters are avid equestrians, the oldest having placed competitively at our local Quarter Horse Congress. While Tina and her husband are very supportive of this endeavor, she is personally somewhat scared of riding horses and her husband is content to relegate himself to the role of “sponsor.” (After a harrowing incident of riding polo ponies on the beach without saddles during our honeymoon in the Caribbean my own wife heartily agrees with Tina’s fear of the unruly beasts.) 

Her greatest wish is every family and student who wants a Catholic education can obtain one and then adds, “I want that every kid to be a success.” Tina also expresses that her door is always open to parent, student, or parishioner. “Any way I can help, I want to be there for them, I want to pay it forward.”

After considerable prayer, contemplation, and discussion Tina has made the exceedingly difficult decision to not return following this academic year, allowing her to spend more time and attention on her family. While this is certainly a loss for our school, I am happy and excited for Tina as she progresses into this next stage of her life. 

By Eric Brooks

Join us for the Third Sunday of Easter

Join us for the celebration of the Third Sunday of Easter! Thanks to our fantastic volunteers, we will again be live streaming two different Masses this weekend. In addition to our usual streaming of the 10 am Mass on Sunday, we will also be live streaming the 5 pm Mass on Saturday afternoon. 

You can join the live streams at the buttons below. Both will also be saved to our Youtube Channel for later viewing.

We hope you have a great weekend!

Compline this Sunday

This weekend is the third Sunday of the month, and that means we will have our monthly Compline! Join us Sunday, April 18 at 9 pm in the Church Nave to pray with our Compline choir trio. It’s a beautiful, peaceful way to end your weekend in prayer! This event will also be live streamed—join us at the button below!

Staff Profile: Denise Johns | Copilot

“Fly along with me, I can’t quite make it alone.” Foo Fighters, Learn to Fly

Denise Johns is a fan of 90s grunge bands, a self-avowed superfan of the band Foo Fighters (having attended six concerts and counting,) and has been the counselor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help school for the past ten years. In that role she has flown along with countless families and students. 

From a young age Denise knew that she wanted to help other people, describing it as, “I feel this is always who I was.” Her undergraduate degree is in criminal justice because, at the time, she felt becoming a police officer was the best opportunity to help others. However, as graduation neared, Denise realized “I was not meant for this.” Instead, she decided pursue counseling, becoming a copilot and flying along with those who were in most need of it. 

Her first job was in a school setting which convinced Denise that she had no desire to become a teacher, but that she wanted to work with children. Following that, she worked with a number of community resource organizations as a foster care therapist and then helping parents who had lost their children through court actions to reconnect with them. In this latter position Denise gained some of the most valuable lessons that have influenced her own life. “These mothers were at their lowest but still loved their children so much, and I realized they loved their kids as much as I loved my own.”

After living in Cincinnati for some time, career changes drew Denise’s family to Grove City. They were looking at houses and attended a Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Later that night, Denise dreamed of the parish and realized she was “meant to be here.” With the transfer of the former Our Lady school counselor, Denise accepted the position and started full-time the same day the Julie Freeman became the school’s principal. 

Out of four days of the week Denise is officially employed by Southwest City Schools, but Julie Freeman has always ensured that a fifth day is funded by Our Lady’s school. This allows Denise to engage in the students’ sacramental life; she can attend all-school Masses, openly discuss spiritual concerns, and display religious symbols in her office. 

One poignant example of this is when a student, Catholic or not, has experienced a personal loss Denise asks them if they would like to walk over to the church and light a candle in the nave. None of the students have turned down that offer. This is an opportunity for Denise to copilot and fly along with them, supporting them in their moments of grief, to offer a real and physical example of her dedication to them. 

As the school counselor, Denise is particularly involved in the social and emotional health of the students at OLPH school. Her goal is for the entire faculty and staff to be cognizant of the students; checking in with them and helping them to work through “stuff.” Copiloting. An excellent example of this is “temperature checks” where faculty ask, “how are you feeling right now?” No doubt the ongoing pandemic is affecting all of us and the mental health issues of our children are only now beginning to become understood. 

Given the response to the pandemic, Denise is concerned about the long-term effects on the kids’ mental health. As she explains, “We are just now seeing the impact and the upcoming [academic] year will show more of that impact.” Denise hopes there will be more research so “we’re just not throwing things up against the wall to see what sticks.”

Fortunately, there are numerous resources available now that were not even in existence a few years ago. In fact, Denise will soon be bringing in a team from Nationwide Children’s Hospital to address teenage suicide and screen the kids to determine their risk. 

When I asked Denise what her greatest joy in her position at the school was, her answer was immediate. “Oh my gosh, the connections with the kids and the families. I love the families.” Particularly given the pandemic, some families at Our Lady are in more precarious positions while others are blessed with financial success. Regarding the latter, Denise explains, “I am so touched they just want to help” and regarding the former, she is so pleased to be a bridge to bring them resources to help. Denise pauses and then adds, “I feel like this is my family. I hope I can portray the message that we love each other.”

As a copilot and fellow flier of this crazy world, Denise wants to make sure that all of us know that none of us “have it all together.” She believes that all people are inherently good, something that is reinforced by “people knocking down my door to provide resources.” Denise appreciates being a bridge between those donating the resources and those needing them, “There is so much joy and appreciation.”

Outside of the school, Denise is clearly an aficionado of 90s grunge music and her husband Andy is a metalhead (my own oldest twin has also recently embraced that metalheadness as well… I realize that metalheadness is not really a word but wanted to coin it.) Once the pandemic responses have lifted, Denise cannot wait to attend in-person concerts, “I love going to concerts. I’m an introvert and have even gone to concerts alone.” 2020 stole her seventh Foo Fighters concert and a Rage Against the Machine concert she wanted to attend with Andy, but hopefully this year will be different.

Before the pandemic Denise’s favorite moment at the school was in the morning. All the kids were in the gymnasium “throwing around backpacks,” shouting, chasing each other around… having fun. And then Julie Freeman would announce it was time to begin morning prayers. “This hush would fall over the gym.” 

Having spoken with Denise I recalled two things: 

“It’s times like these you learn to live again. It’s times like these you give and give again.” Foo Fighters, Times Like These

“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;” John Gillespie Magee, High Flight

By Eric Brooks

Join us for Mass for Divine Mercy Sunday!

Join us for the celebration of Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday! Thanks to our fantastic volunteers, we will again be live streaming two different Masses this weekend. In addition to our usual streaming of the 8:30 am Mass on Sunday, we will also be live streaming the 5 pm Mass on Saturday afternoon. 

You can join the live streams at the buttons below. Both will also be saved to our Youtube Channel for later viewing.

We hope you have a great weekend!

Staff Profile: Marti Hurd | Familiar

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free… Send me these, the homeless, the tempest-lost to me…” -Emma Lazarus

Those lines are drawn from a sonnet inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty but could just as easily refer to Marti Hurd’s ministry at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. For the past twenty years she has served as the Pastoral Minister at our parish for those undergoing their most challenging times. Marti has walked as a companion with those having recently lost loved ones and oversees groups dedicated to grief support, widows and widowers, cancer survivors, and divorcees. 

She also works with those who coordinate Extraordinary Ministers of the Holy Communion who provide that Sacrament to the homebound and helps to arrange priests to provide the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick to those needing it. In addition, Marti coordinates members of the parish family who take Communion to the five care centers we currently serve, and prior to COVID, made sure monthly Masses happened at four of those five centers.

Her path towards this ministry was a convoluted beginning in northwest Illinois when her then husband accepted a job transfer in 1986 to Central Ohio. They were leaving a rich history and great closeness of friends and family; the transfer was only supposed to last for a few years. Marti has two sons and at that time enrolled them at Our Lady’s elementary school and, being a teacher, was offered and accepted a position as a part-time aide in the school. In the spring Bill Groce, the principal, offered her a Kindergarten teaching position; at that time Kindergarten was only half day. 

In the summer of 1991 Fr. Romano asked if she would, for one year, coordinate the Religious Education program during the other half of her day. A short time later in February, as Marti describes it, Fr. Romano in his Italian accent approached her saying, “The families are happy, I am happy, you are happy.” That one year turned into ten years and during that time Marti also earned a master’s degree in Religious Education.

In 2000 with Fr. Steve Hawkins as our pastor, the Parish Religious Education program was moved to Sunday mornings. As the part time Director of Religious Education, Marti was present on campus on Sunday mornings running that program. Fr. John Swickard was appointed pastor at OLPH and assumed that responsibility April 3, 2001. His first weekend as pastor, before even learning the full names of his parochial staff, Fr. Swickard was suddenly confronted with three deaths. Marti was the only member of the parish staff he could find that Sunday morning, and she assisted him in navigating many of the details. 

Her empathetic and passionate handling of that situation resulted in Fr. Swickard asking Marti if she would begin working as a part-time pastoral minister, along with being a part-time Kindergarten teacher. Karen Cook was part-time youth minister and Fr. Swickard asked her to also assume the Religious Education duties for the remainder of the academic year. It soon became apparent that our parish needed a full-time pastoral minister and Fr. Swickard asked Marti to take a one-year leave of absence from the school to see if she and the position were a good fit. Much like her “one year” as Director of Religious Education, the “one year” leave of absence has now continued for twenty years. 

Since that time, Marti has proven to be a companion to everyone who is hurting, whether it be physically, emotionally or spiritually, at our parish. She describes this calling as, “I get to do what I love and get to see God’s hand even in the most difficult situations.” Her experiences as teacher, Director of Religious Education, and Pastoral Minister have all been fulfilling and rewarding in their own unique ways, allowing her meandering responsibilities to follow along God’s path for her. 

During that convoluted path towards this ministry, Marti explains that she had felt “this tug” for some time, a certainty that God was inviting her into something deeper or something more involving ministry. The coursework for her master’s degree started with common classes for all the students and in course seven they diverged into a focus on either Religious Education or Pastoral Ministry. With sixteen years of teaching experience, including three in Illinois, and 10 years coordinating PSR the obvious choice at that time was Religious Education. However, Fr. Swickard convincing Marti to take that one year’s leave of absence led her into full-time ministry in Pastoral Care, revealing “tug” had been satisfied.

Perhaps her greatest challenge in her current role is simply not having enough hours in the day to tend the needs of those hurting in the parish. Marti is obviously a methodical person who likes to have her days organized, but “The phone rings and your whole day shifts.” She pauses and then adds, “Maybe your whole week shifts.” As the youngest of twelve children, Marti credits her family for helping her to adapt to changes and shifts, shaping her for flexibility.

Marti’s joy as a pastoral minister is being “a companion to people when they are hurting.” She believes she is doing what God is asking her to do, and that He has given her the grace and strength to companion those who are hurting. Having experienced great losses within her own family and suffering through her own divorce, Marti believes God is using her pain to companion others who are similarly hurting. 

I asked Marti how she can weather constantly companioning those who are literally undergoing their worst possible moments. She immediately responded how the book Fortunate Son by Lewis Puller Jr. impacted her worldview. Lewis is the son of legendary marine general Lewis “Chesty” Puller and followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a marine officer. He was horribly wounded in Vietnam and Marti recalls a section in the book devoted to his physical therapy. The PT’s constant advice to him was “strength and balance,” something Marti strives to apply in her own life. She turns to our Lord for her strength and knows the constant need to keep a balance in all things. As someone who regularly reads military history and having somehow missed Fortunate Son, I will be purchasing the book.

Regarding her own life, Marti has grown to appreciate and treasure moments of solitude. She expressed the older she gets, she moves into being more contemplative, something I personally can certainly appreciate. She loves spending time with her family including her two sons and nine grandchildren who live near her in the Grove City area. Marti also enjoys cooking, sewing, doing cross-stitch, puzzles, and reading. In the last of those Marti focuses primarily on spiritual books.

As with many of the parish staff I have interviewed, if Marti had a genie best friend or magic wand with one wish, she would dramatically increase the space on our parish campus. In particular Marti would like to build a new performing arts center for Kim Nocero at the school. 

I try to take something away from each of these interviews, something that reflects the person, something they bring to the parish. With Julie Freeman it was her absolute devotion to the Our Lady school children; with Amanda Athey it was her looking at everyone in the image and likeness of God; with Karen Cook it was how she has gracefully put up with me constantly being a source of annoyance for nearly a decade. 

With Marti it was when we sat down in the sacristy and I pulled out my notebook and pen. Before I could even get started, she asked me for my story. Even for someone ready to tell her story, Marti first wanted to know mine and be my companion on my personal faith journey. 

By Eric Brooks