Staff Profile: Theresa Bayes | Humility

Theresa Bayes is hesitant to take credit for herself, preferring to refer to everything as team effort. She would rather discuss how wonderful Julia and Emily are on the finance staff, how lucky she is to have Amy Woloshan as the head of the Finance Council, and how thankful she is for our parish volunteers. In fact, I believe Theresa spoke more often about Ann Voight’s contributions to Our Lady of Perpetual Help than she did her own. This reminds me of the ending to a prayer asking for St. Martha’s intercession that I am fond of, “I ask you Saint Martha, by your intercession to help me in overcoming all my difficulties and to teach me to become great in the Kingdom of Heaven by becoming as humble as you in this world.”

Having known, worked with, and now interviewed Theresa, she is very much becoming great in the Kingdom of Heaven. 

As with many of our clerical and lay leadership, Theresa’s path to OLPH was not a direct one. She has always shown an affinity for numbers and considered herself a bookkeeper. For 18 years she worked in that capacity for the diocese, maintaining the accounting books for its Catholic cemeteries. While Theresa enjoyed the work, it was “a lonely job” with her solitary office buried in the basement at St. Joseph Cemetery; pun intended. For anyone who has seen the iconic movie, Office Space, I am reminded of the quotation, “Milt, we’re gonna need to go ahead and move you downstairs into Storage B… So if you could pack up your stuff and move it down there, that would be terrific, okay?”

Despite that solitude, Theresa fully intended to retire from the diocese in that position. Unfortunately, seven years ago her husband of 41 years became disabled. In addition to being a caretaker for him, Theresa also needed to take him to dialysis appointments three times every week. As it would happen, those appointments take place close to Our Lady and the parish was advertising for a bookkeeper. Theresa describes it as, “A blessing” and “What God had planned for me.”

Since then, she worked at Our Lady for three-and-a-half years and for a year-and-a-half has been the Finance Manager at the parish. In that role, Theresa manages all of our banking; receipts, expenditures, quarterly reports for the diocese, payroll for 72 parochial employees, and so forth. She considers the job a calling and her two guiding principles are being “very honest and transparent.” Theresa’s greatest joy as Finance Manager, predictably has nothing to do with herself, but instead is “the people here and their generosity.” Even during this pandemic with its job loss, job reduction, and general financial hardship, Theresa is constantly impressed by the generosity of our parishioners. 

The pandemic has also given Theresa her greatest challenges during her tenure in the parochial finance department. From week to week, she simply does not know what is going to happen next. However, she takes comfort that despite any of those challenges she is a “perfectionist who will do the best I ever can” to ensure our finances are sound. Then Theresa again deflects attention from herself adding, “I can’t do what I do by myself, it’s a team.” She is also extremely excited about the future of Our Lady with the recent announcement that Fr. Joseph Yokum will be joining our parish the summer as our pastor and administrator. 

Theresa is dedicated to her responsibility to the parish. Constantly she tells me that, “We want to be open,” and “we take the generosity very seriously.” The one time she expresses any personal pride is when she recalls how a CPA not affiliated with our parish came across her yearly report in the bulletin. The CPA expressed that the report was one of the best he had seen, distilling a full 18-page document into easily understood financial facts anyone in the parish could understand and follow. Theresa was not proud the CPA thought her report was outstanding, but rather that our parishioners could understand its finances. 

Theresa’s greatest joy is her family. In addition to her husband that family includes her only daughter, Brenda, Brenda’s husband, Dennis, and their only child, Dominic. In fact, Dominic recently enrolled at Our Lady of Perpetual Help school as a first grader where the full in-person classes have greatly benefited him as well as the resources our school can dedicate to him. Given how catastrophically the pandemic has impacted schools throughout the United States, Theresa is particularly grateful our parish has been able to maintain fully in-person education for the entirety of the 2020 – 2021 academic year. Working in the parish office, Theresa has directly witnessed the immense effort this has required on the part of so many people. 

When I ask Theresa what she would do with a magic wand she immediately thinks in dollars as befits a Finance Manager. If she suddenly found a few tens of millions of dollars laying around, Theresa would first build a new school building. For those unaware, the current school was the original church in our parish and celebrated its first Mass on Christmas Eve in 1959. The building has been loving maintained and modernized, but I understand Theresa’s wish to replace a school that has been around for longer than many of its teachers have been alive. 

While the pandemic and her husband’s illness have robbed Theresa of the familiar comforts of eating out for dinner and going on vacation, she does enjoy some familiar rituals. She loves watching television in the evening and has a particular affinity for Hallmark movies, especially those shown around Christmas. As Theresa describes it, “Ten minutes in you know how it’s going to work out. But I love them because they all have that perfect ending.”

After so fully giving herself to others, I absolutely believe Theresa could use one of those perfect endings. 

By Eric Brooks

Staff Profile: Kevin Radwanski | Service

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

Staff Profile | Melissa Zuk: Home

By Eric Brooks

Melissa Zuk is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Her journey to our parish culminated when her family bought a home “literally five minutes away from Our Lady” and we were in need of a marketing and communications manager. Arguably her journey to the parish began at The Ohio State University. 

As a self-described introvert, Melissa recognized that being at a massive university could easily cause her to be lost in those masses. She sought out smaller groups to form connections, and sophomore year played on the club rugby team. While Melissa enjoyed the camaraderie and competition, there was a strong partying culture that eventually turned her away from the sport. The next summer, her brother’s girlfriend’s aunt sent Melissa an email asking her if she knew about St. Paul’s Outreach (SPO). Melissa did not, but was put in touch with one of SPO’s recently graduated student leaders and met her for coffee. Clearly the Holy Spirit was helping her to find a home at OSU. 

According to SPO, “Our mission is to build transformational communities that form missionary disciples for life.” They recognize the vast majority of universities are almost militantly secular and Catholic students are lonely and isolated from God, but are also hungry for truth, meaning, and relationships. This was true with Melissa and in participating with SPO she was able to go beyond attending weekly mass because, “that’s what good people do.” She found a home in that ministry and came to understand the Catholic faith is what she personally believed. As Melissa states, “I embraced my Catholic identity.” 

In yet another sense, Melissa was coming home in embracing her Catholic heritage. Her mother’s parents are devoutly Catholic, and their children, grandchildren, cousins, and other family members have carried on that faith. She describes her grandparents as the closest she has come to knowing living saints and they laid the first bricks in the foundation of her own faith. 

Through SPO, Melissa also met her future husband, Andrew, and they attempted to create a home in Los Angeles where he worked in the film industry in Hollywood. At the time she was drawing on her degrees in marketing and graphic design as well as a burgeoning skill in photography. However, working for a small lunchbox company was professionally rewarding but left her with a void in wanting to help other people. The cost of living also left them wondering if they could ever raise a family in California, and they were far from family. 

The Holy Spirit was at work again when they attended a parish mission featuring Matthew Kelly of Dynamic Catholic. Melissa and her husband had already decided to move back to Ohio because of her mother-in-law’s health; they needed to be closer to home. After researching Dynamic Catholic, she discovered the organization was based in Cincinnati and applied for a position. With all of their belongings packed away for the move and with the time difference, Melissa sat on an empty living room floor and had a telephone interview ridiculously early in the morning. And was hired. 

After having worked for Dynamic Catholic for a year and a half, Melissa’s husband accepted a position in Columbus with a non-profit. During their move, she perused the Diocese of Columbus website and literally, the first job listing was for a marketing and communications coordinator at St. Brendan’s in Hilliard. Clearly the Holy Spirit was at work yet again.

While the young family continued to worship at St. Brendan’s after purchasing their new home in Grove City, at times it became ridiculous to drive almost an hour when Our Lady was five minutes away. Melissa and her husband had some trepidation about the parish, but once they began to truly know our parishioners and parish, they knew they had “found a home.” 

Melissa has worked in her new role at Our Lady for slightly over a year. In it she has dual goals of keeping the parish informed as well as to evangelize our Catholic faith to the larger Grove City community. As she explained, we are not a parish for the Catholics of Grove City, but the Catholic parish for all of Grove City. It can be a daunting task considering many of the misconceptions other Christians have regarding Catholics, but she wants the entire community to feel welcome at our parish and to let that community know who we are and what we believe. One of Melissa’s best tools for this is our various events; Trunk or Treat, Feast Day, and the Parish Festival. Obviously COVID has curtailed many of these outreaches, but she continues working to spread our faith into the community. 

Her most challenging issue has been balancing long-range planning with putting out fires. Melissa knows many of these strategic plans are extremely important and will greatly benefit the parish, but the past year has taught us all that emergencies can arise at any moment. In what seems a lifetime ago I had a manager who explained long-term plans are great, but sometimes you just need to “stop the bleeding” and that is what every parish has been doing since the pandemic exploded last spring. Despite that, Melissa embraces her position as a vocation and her greatest joy is hoping it will “build up the Kingdom of God.” 

In her position, Melissa has a diverse set of responsibilities spanning several different disciplines. However, she knows God has placed her in this role and given her the tools to succeed in it. Her university education gave her a solid foundation in marketing and graphic design while her first job added extensive photography experience to her skillset. Her second job immersed her in social media and working for Dynamic Catholic proved how fulfilling it was to work professionally in furtherance of her faith. All of this has combined at Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Outside of being a parish staff member, Melissa enjoys running and has competed in half-marathons and similar races. She is also an avid boardgamer since college and enjoys sewing and knitting, particularly things such as her children’s Halloween costumes. Melissa’s son also enjoys baking with her, and speaking of children, the Zuk family is currently expecting their third child and second daughter this May. Please join me in congratulating them.

When I asked Melissa what drew her and her family to our parish, she immediately responded that it felt like home—the first parish that felt like home since she had been married. Melissa feels as her family is part of our community and she is excited for her children to soon join our parochial school. She is particularly enthusiastic regarding the work Julie Freeman was done with the school and that Julie Dilley has done with Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. (If you are curious regarding Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, I will be interviewing Julie Dilley soon, keep reading the bulletin!)

Melissa describes becoming the Marketing & Communications Manager at Our Lady as a process and she certainly joined our parochial staff during a volatile time. Despite that, she is proud to help shepherd Our Lady through its crises. I am reminded of a recent scripture reading, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.” (Lk. 15:3 – 5) 

I am uncertain whether Melissa is the shepherd or the sheep, but either is an apt description for her. Regardless, she has come home. 

Staff Profile | Julie Freeman: Family

By Eric Brooks

Without doubt, COVID has taken many things away from us this past year. Physical closeness with our fellow human beings; familiar faces hidden behind masks; libraries, museums, and theaters; toilet paper. However, in the midst of its deprivations, the global pandemic has also given us unique opportunities. For Julie Freeman that includes having her four grown children back at home. She has enthusiastically watched them grow as young adults, grow as siblings, and grow closer as a family. In fact, it was her family that led Julie into becoming principal at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School. 

Previously she had taught at several diocesan schools and nine years ago was a 5th grade teacher at our parochial school. They were in search of a new principal and Julie was chosen to be part of the Hiring Team guiding that search. When the exhausting search was complete, their chosen candidate was unable to accept the position. Julie remembers standing with Fr. Millisor in the school playground when he asked her to serve as interim principal. 

Julie had never thought of entering administration, had no aspirations for it, and her professional background did not involve any preparation for such a position. Her appreciation for art has made Julie a very visual person and, at that moment, she envisioned Father offering to hand her a large platter of precariously balanced, exquisite fine china while saying, “I want you to take this, but please make sure you don’t drop any of it.”

What followed was a week of intense prayer, discussions with her husband, and as Julie describes it, “Constantly hiding from everyone behind a pair of sunglasses.” There were many serious considerations to her accepting the position and Julie was torn. Finally, her son cornered her in the family garage and said, “Dad told me, and you have to take this; you’d be great.” It was as if God had heard her prayers and the Holy Spirit was speaking through her family. It was clear he had placed a path in front of her. 

Fr. Larry Richards once spoke of his first assignment as pastor and administrator of a parish. Formation and seminary had left him prepared to administer the Sacraments, shepherd his flock, and write homilies. He was educated in philosophy and theology and prepared to offer counsel. However, on his first day as pastor, Fr. Richards was informed by his new staff the church roof needed to be replaced. With a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach and with his typical brusqueness, Fr. Richards blurted out, “What the [blank] do I know about replacing a roof?!” 

I asked Julie if the transition between teaching and administrator had been similar for her. She replied that until you have been principal at a Catholic school, you can never fully understand what is involved. Julie further explained that Catholic principals are closer to “mini-superintendents” compared to their secular counterparts. She received her master’s degree as well as a diocesan crash course on expenses, funding, and the literal stacks of forms necessary to run a parochial school. No doubt that was only the beginning to the complexity and minutia involved with running what is essentially a mid-sized business. 

Personally, Julie’s most significant change was accepting the chaos of the position. As a teacher she could literally develop class plans for an entire year, knowing exactly what she would be teaching on Thursday, January 14, for example. As a principal Julie has a cluttered calendar and what she describes as an “affinity for post-it notes,” but every day is different and last-minute changes can throw that calendar and those post-it notes into instant flux. 

Despite that, Julie has absolutely no regrets on her decision and for her this is not a job. She becomes extremely passionate when talking about the students at the school, saying “We care very deeply about them.” They are her extended family and Julie jokes that despite the face masks she knows each of them well enough to know if they are smiling, blanking out, or pouting just from their eyes. During these recent challenges she is always impressed by how all the students care for one another and loves seeing how they are not only being educated, but growing into ethical, responsible young persons. 

As Julie explains, “They are always given opportunities and choices, some of which have consequences.” However, it is often those failures that provide the richest learning opportunities for the students, particularly when they have the chance to reflect on their opportunities and reconsider the choices they decided to make. These are incredibly valuable skills that will serve the students later in life equally well, if not more so, than their academic lessons. 

Julie’s passion for her school family is obvious. There have been many times when she has come home still affected by something that happened during the academic day. Her husband will tell her that she just needs “to let it go” like he does when he leaves work, and her response is “it’s not the same.” For Julie, Catholic schools are not a profession, but a vocation. When a student is struggling or leaves the school she is always plagued by the thought, “We need to do more.”

In addition to being an administrator at the parochial school, Julie and her family are long time parishioners at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. She is greatly appreciative of the parish and believes it gives all the students at the school an opportunity to live a Sacramental life. Participation in Holy Communion, Reconciliation, and Confirmation make the students not just members of the school, but also members of the parish. Julie also sees great opportunity in the various ministries for her students to become more deeply involved with her larger parish family.

Conversely, Julie believes the school brings an amazing opportunity for growth to the parish. By involving her students in the Sacramental life at the parish, she often sees their parents own faith and participation renewed and reinvigorated. In this way, the school serves to evangelize our shared Catholic faith with an increasingly larger audience. Julie also knows the students bring an energy and innocence to the parish. As someone who regularly attends the all-school weekday masses, I can attest to that. There is something exceedingly special about seeing several hundred uniformed children all united together in celebration of our Risen Lord and the sacrifice He made to offer us a chance of eternal salvation. 

Outside of her roles as wife, mother, administrator, and parishioner, Julie is a proud Westsider. She considers Grove City and Our Lady of Perpetual Help her home and family. In her rare free moments, Julie continues to embrace art with watercolors being her preferred medium, describing art as, “It helps to feed me.” Occasionally she is able to slip into the art room and teach a quick class, something that helps connect to her past as an educator and brings Juile closer to her school family. 

If she were given a magic wand or a genie’s lamp and could have one wish, Julie would provide a Catholic education to anyone who wants one. And she would give everyone in Grove City a desire for that Catholic education because it is that important to her. Technically, that would be two wishes, but in the movie Aladdin the title character was able to trick an extra wish out of Robin William’s genie, so I suppose we can let that slide. 

Years after his ordination, Fr. John Riccardo ran across a childhood friend who was amazed he had been called to the priesthood. She knew he had always wanted to have kids and conjectured he would have been a great father. Paraphrasing his response, Fr. Riccardo said, “Have you been to my parish? I have hundreds of kids.” I suspect it is similar for Julie; she has four kids at home, and a few hundred kids at the school. 

As she says, “I am always about faith and family. And helping one another.” 

Staff Profile: Father Watson and Connections

In his free time, Fr. Watson enjoys walking along the roads wherever he is and exploring. It is interesting to find out how different roads reach and stretch; for example, how Demorest Road begins in a relatively rural area just to the west of Grove City’s downtown but culminates in the very urban Hilltop neighborhood. All these roads are connected, forming a vast network. Everything from the one-and-a-half lane country road I grew up on to immense interstates crossing the entire country. I am reminded of a line from J.R.R. Tolkien’s iconic book Fellowship of the Ring, “He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river; its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary.” 

Connections and networks between people are equally important to Fr. Watson. He has lived in Central Ohio his entire life and worked as a pastor for twenty-five years throughout the Columbus area. During those years, he has striven to know all his parishioners—not just their names but who they are. As he explained to me, “A pastor needs to know his sheep.” When meeting someone new he enjoys learning where they are from and who they know, “digging” until he finds some commonality, a point of connection. For me, it was my childhood parish of St. Mary’s Delaware where my parents, my brother, and his family are still members. Fr. Watson not only knew all of them by name but also remembered we are from Ostrander and could even tell me what pew my parents typically favored for Sunday Mass. 

Fr. Watson has been a priest for thirty-four years, but his path to the priesthood was not a direct one. During high school and university at Ohio State, he experienced passing thoughts of becoming a priest but was more wanting to climb the corporate ladder to professional success and finding the “girl of his dreams.” After graduating OSU, he worked in the insurance industry for almost nine years and, at that time, thought being a priest was a sign of failure in both business and love. However, the Holy Spirit was even then working to close doors, but open windows in Fr. Watson’s life. 

After discussions with the personnel director at Grange Insurance and one of his good friends, Fr. Watson began to consider the priesthood more seriously. As he describes it, there was this constant “nagging and I needed to explore it.” He contacted the vocations director at the diocese, but his path to the priesthood was almost derailed. Due to a series of miscommunications and tragedies, Fr. Watson missed his first two meetings with the vocations director. When they finally did meet it resulted in Fr. Watson being tentatively accepted as a seminarian. 

Given his limited exposure to philosophy at Ohio State, Fr. Watson needed to take some philosophy and theology courses at the Pontifical College Josephinum here in Columbus. During this transition period he first met Frs. Colopy and Millisor forging yet another of those precious connections in his life. Fr. Watson would go on to attend seminary at the Theological College in Washington D.C. His ordination as a transitional deacon was slightly delayed but soon thereafter, he was ordained as a priest, along with those same Frs. Colopy and Millisor. 

One of Fr. Watson’s first assignments included being chaplain at Bishop Hartley High School in east Columbus. He greatly enjoyed interacting with the students and fondly remembers his own time in high school at Bishop Waterson. While in high school he was on both the baseball and wrestling teams and forming yet more of those connections still remembers that my own high school, Buckeye Valley, fielded excellent baseball teams. 

Fr. Watson claims that he does not have a photographic memory, but I am somewhat skeptical of that claim. His ability to recall facts led his high school to ask him to join their In The Know team. This is a televised quiz show for high schoolers hosted by WOSU with subjects ranging from science to visual arts. With his assistance, their team made it to the finals but was eventually bested by Upper Arlington and had to settle for second place. Having researched In The Know after learning about it the past few days, our diocese has been very well represented with Bishop Waterson, St. Charles, and Fisher Catholic in Lancaster routinely being semi-finalists, runner up, or champions.

In addition to his various pastoral duties over the years, Fr. Watson has been a member of what he terms the “invocation circuit.” This involves offering opening invocations at various meetings such as the Columbus City Council, Earl Bruce Touchdown Club, and other civic and government organizations. He enjoys these activities as it lets him form yet more connections with yet more people he might have otherwise not had the chance to meet. 

Beyond the pastoral duties of a priest, Fr. Watson embraces the spiritual life of his vocation. He expressed a great deal of comfort in knowing that he is doing exactly what God has intended him to do and is living his life in a sacramental way. As with all of us, he contemplates his eternal life in the world to come and is always working towards his own salvation in addition to helping shepherd his parishioners towards theirs. 

Our parish has previously enjoyed long and stable tenures of pastors and associate pastors until our recent upheavals. While that can be beneficial, it also has the risk of leading all of us towards thinking inside a bubble, where everyone starts having the same opinion. Given that I asked Fr. Watson, someone new to our parish, what his initial impressions were. He immediately answered with “down to earth,” “laid back,” and “accepting.” He also stated this is a well-managed parish and has been easy to step into. Fr. Watson also wants all of us to know that he is approachable, although he does warn that he often “speaks in puns.” 

Given that he originally considered being a priest a losing proposition, I asked Fr. Watson how he considers it now after over three decades in the priesthood. He originally considered priests to be “the left-out losers in life.” Now he realizes they are in the center of the lives of the parishioners they have formed connections with. 

It seems our lives go through stages and Fr. Watson’s is at the stage where he is conducting funerals for people he has known for a lifetime. He said, “It is a blessing of a priest to be a familiar face.” For the persons he has shepherded through the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Matrimony, and Anointing of the Sick, Fr. Watson has been that familiar face. 

When not walking our local roads or ministering to Our Lady, Fr. Watson is what he describes as a “bogey golfer,” allowing him to exercise and socialize simultaneously. Being a priest has also allowed him to play every course in the Columbus area. While years removed from playing baseball and wrestling, he maintains a strong interest in sports and is equally conversant with the leadership change at the Cleveland Browns and Joe Burrow’s recent injury as the Cincinnati Bengal’s rookie quarterback. I somewhat suspect memorizing sports statistics at a young age helped to gift him with that memory and recollection. 

Fr. Watson expressed an affinity for St. Andrew the Apostle, his chosen confirmation name, and I have to agree with him. “One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, ‘So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Ce’phas’ (which means Peter.)” (Jn 1:40 – 42) 

As Andrew introduced Peter to Christ, Fr. Watson and his connections are ready to introduce all of us to each other and to our Risen Lord. 

Not bad for a loser priest. 

Mass for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

Good afternoon, Parish Family! Please join us for Mass this weekend. You can view Mass from Our Lady at this link, which will go live at 5 pm this evening. (Please note that the video will not work until then.)

Our music minister, Scott Ewing, has once again provided a worship aid to help you participate more fully from your homes. And the bulletin for this weekend can be found on our bulletins page.

In case you missed it, we have a couple of big announcements this weekend. The first is that we are now scheduling appointments for Confession! Find all the details on our Reconciliation page.

The second announcement is that effective Monday, Monsignor Cody will be our new Administrator Pro Tem. You can read Bishop Brennan’s letter to our parish regarding this appointment here.

New Administrator Pro Tem

Effective Monday, May 4, 2020 Monsignor John Cody will replace Father Michael Lumpe as administrator pro tem of Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish.

We thank Father Mike for all of his contributions to Our Lady, and we welcome Msgr. Cody! You can read the Bishop’s full letter to the parishioners of Our Lady regarding this appointment below (click to expand).