When I interviewed Kevin Radwanski for this article, we met in the sacristy. As we were wrapping up and leaving, I noted two things. Kevin had noticed the wall clock in the sacristy had stopped and was already taking it down to change the battery. For even the smallest of tasks, he is not the type of person to ask someone else to do it when he can take care of it with his own hands. The second thing was the arrival of a contractor to address an issue with the parish office internet cabling. Kevin knew the contractor by name and immediately recalled the specifics of the job. He was also able to effortlessly transition between changing a clock battery to helping the vendor addressing a critical infrastructure issue.
Perhaps a third thing is being the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Facilities Director requires constant attention.
Kevin is a carpenter by trade and owns a small maintenance and renovation company. This made him a natural fit for the Facilities Director, a position he has held, other than a short hiatus a few years ago, since 2000. In that position Kevin is responsible for the physical presence of the OLPH campus; its maintenance, custodial, and technology needs as well as long term planning in those areas. As Kevin describes it, “Every staff member, parishioner, and visitor is my customer.” After a pause, he adds that all of these are “dynamic customers” each with their own unique needs that he strives to service.
And it is obvious that Kevin takes pride in providing quality service to those dynamic customers. This can be everything from providing meeting space to Wi‑Fi connections to pieces of technology such as the projector in the Life Center. Being a lifelong parishioner at Our Lady also helps him to anticipate those needs. He is active on the Festival Committee, Knights of Columbus, and Landscape Committee, which gives Kevin some insight as to the true needs and “what’s going on in the parish campus.”
If he could have one wish granted, Kevin would like for all of us to tell him when something is broken/worn out/not working. As he describes it, “All the time someone will come up to me and say, ‘this has been broken for a month’ and I’m like next time please tell me a month ago.”
In addition to being our Facilities Director, and a parishioner, and a husband and father, and a small business owner, Kevin somehow also finds the time to be a firefighter. Instead of being overwhelmed he explains that all these roles “feed into themselves.” Something he learned in the parish will help him at the firehouse and then something he learns at the firehouse will help him running his business and then something he learns from a client of that business will help him back at the parish.
The current pandemic has certainly challenged Kevin, particularly regarding technology. Almost overnight the entire parish staff was remotely working from home while simultaneously the entire school staff was remotely teaching from home and the school. Kevin credits his great technology employees for making this work. Teachers who had never used a webcam were now responsible for conducting classes over Zoom and there was a learning curve. When the virus was new and poorly understood they were troubleshooting connection issues over the telephone and developing procedures on the fly. Through creative thinking and hard work, Kevin and his staff were able to adapt to and overcome these obstacles.
Another complication COVID-19 brought was in strategic planning. Kevin relies heavily on trends to anticipate future needs; how many groups with how many members need meeting space on Wednesday night or how many of those groups will be using the parish Wi-Fi to stream their meetings to how many members. Obviously, those trends were thrown into complete flux during most of 2020 and as our parish begins to resume some measure of normalcy, it will be challenging to anticipate its needs.
During a recent homily, Msgr. Cody mentioned how far ahead our parish is in reopening compared to the diocese. In a similar manner, we are also well ahead of other parishes in technology due to Kevin’s long-range planning and his staff. This is particularly evident in our Wi-Fi bandwidth, Mass streaming capability, and security features. In that latter area, Kevin was instrumental in securing a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security which has funded impact-protection film on windows and doors, additional network cameras, and keycard access on doors. I was a Security Policeman (later Security Forces when the career field changed its name) in the Air Force. Having experienced access control at the school and seen the camera setup in both the parochial and school offices, I am impressed.
While COVID-19 has most definitely brought its challenges, Kevin remarked that there can be a positive in almost anything, even if you “have to look really, really hard for it.” Unlike his facilities counterparts in the secular world, Kevin is keenly aware of the liturgical calendar. You obviously cannot close the nave to repair its roof during Holy Week or shut the Life Center for renovations when it is needed for overflow space during Christmas Masses. In this respect, the pandemic has given the maintenance and custodial staffs more freedom than they usually enjoy as meeting spaces go unused.
The largest joy Kevin receives from his role at Our Lady of Perpetual Help is “being able to help.” He considers working at our parish a blessing and has a great attachment to it. Kevin finds fulfillment in meeting the needs of his many customers, providing them the services they need to further the Kingdom of God.
Clearly being Facilities Director at OLPH, owning a small business, being a firefighter, and spending time with his family offers Kevin massive amounts of free time. All joking aside, in his sparse downtime he enjoys being outdoors whether it is hiking or working on some project. His wife Lisa is a former Park Ranger, which no doubt contributed to his love of the outdoors.
On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis decreed a Year of St. Joseph from December 8, 2020 until December 8, 2021. I am struck by how Joseph was also a carpenter by trade, worked quietly behind the scenes in the gospels, and is known for his service to his adopted Son. Clearly Kevin embodies these same traits. St. Padre Pio described Joseph as, “Go to Joseph with extreme confidence, because I do not remember having asked anything from St. Joseph, without having obtained it readily.”
This also reminds me of Kevin.
-By Eric Brooks