Kudos Corner is a means of acknowledging those in our parish who share their time, talent and treasure to spread the Good News of God's unconditional love. It is intended to lift up and celebrate the actions of individuals and groups within our faith community who touch hearts and make a difference.

This month’s Kudos Corner recognizes Bob Luchsinger. May 2016

Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Turn your scar into a star”? That’s exactly what Bob has done…thanks to family, friends, parishioners and, of course, the grace of God.

Bob and his wife Terry tragically lost their 11 year old daughter Katie in a house fire in 1999. Katie, a sixth-grader here at Visi at the time, saved the lives of her two siblings by waking them in time for them to escape the blaze…but she was unable to save herself.

Family friend Jim Botuchis wanted to honor Katie in some way. He and Larry Schirmann organized a golf outing benefit. Then Visi's Diane Williams suggested the funds be used to create a Memorial Garden behind the school. Bob has steadfastly supported the project ever since in an effort to provide a special place of prayer for all Visi parishioners…especially for those who have also lost a child. “Hopefully they can come here and grieve a little and find some comfort,” said Mr. Luchsinger as he recently stood in the Katie Luchsinger Memorial Garden on a beautiful sunny morning. “It’s all about the children.”

Bob said he couldn’t have done this without friends like Jim Botuchis and Larry Schirmann as well as local firefighters who helped with fundraisers…and “without the people of the church here…I’d never been able to make it through.” 

The memorial garden was designed by parishioner Gina Huesman Donovan of N-r-G Landscaping. Recently two “bubbling boulders” and an angel statue with Katie’s name engraved at the base have been added to the garden. 
(Photo “Memorial_Garden_May_2016”)

Fr. Mark had a special blessing ceremony at the garden following the 4:00 Mass on Saturday, April 30th. Parishioners can support the project by donating $250 to pay for a paver engraved with the name of a departed loved one…which then becomes part of the walkway in the garden. “It’s very rewarding to our family to have the support and backing of the parish, friends and neighbors. You’d never survive without them,” Bob said. 
He hopes his kids and everyone else’s will keep this tradition alive and he’s “100 percent sure it’s going to happen.” Bob added, “If anyone wants to know what love is…just drop by the garden and look. You’ll see it.” And so will parishioners for years to come!
Kudos Corner salutes Bob Luchsinger for being a missionary of mercy!

This month’s Kudos Corner recognizes Howard Schutte. April 2016

The Corporal Work of Mercy we are focusing on in April is “Shelter the homeless.” Who better to exemplify this than Howard? For the past 15 years Howard has been regularly volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. Over that time…he has worked on approximately 28 projects consisting of mostly building new homes as well as some remodeling.

Howard says the people at Habitat are friendly and always willing to show you what you need to know to get the job done. He says the projects vary each week from floor framing to roofing to painting or finishing cabinets. (Anyone interested in volunteering with Habitat can contact Howard or the parish office and we’ll get you in touch with Howard.)

Members of our parish for the past 50 years, Howard and his wife Judy have been married for 51 years. They raised 5 children…all graduates of Our Lady of the Visitation School.

Howard says he particularly likes Habitat for Humanity because the organization “gives people a hand up, not a hand out.” He says that the owner of a Habitat home must work many sweat equity hours on their house and pay off an interest free loan. Howard says volunteers work side-by-side with the owner. “To see the happiness on their faces at the end of the project when they get the keys to their new homes…makes the time and work all worthwhile.”

Kudos Corner salutes Howard Schutte for being a missionary of mercy!

This month’s Kudos Corner recognizes the St. Vincent de Paul Group, March 2016

The group is comprised of 11 active members: Kaye Schroeder (Vice-President), Joyce Miller, Norb Trapp (Treasurer), Dave Feldman, Diane Williams (Conference President), Chris Williams, Joyce Maly, Phil Schutte, Ken Meymann (Spiritual Director), Melissa Stautberg and Peggy James.

(Peggy James, Joyce Maly and Philip Schutte were unavailable for the photo)

There are also many inactive members who support the team’s efforts either financially or through prayer.The SVDP group at any parish is called a 'conference'…so we are known as the “Our Lady of the Visitation Parish St. Vincent de Paul Conference.” Our Conference receives calls on the St. Vincent de Paul cell phone that is shared by two of our members. When someone calls requesting help, members verify where that person lives. Our conference covers anyone within the parish boundaries as well as Addyston. If the need is for more than food a home visit is scheduled. The uniqueness of SVDP is that our members make “home visits” to determine the level of need and to show that they care enough to visit in person. Then a determination can be made as to whether there are additional needs. In 2015 our conference helped over 170 people. Over 30 home visits were made. Conference members have contributed over 500 hours of service. 

Of those 171 individuals helped, some needed emergency payment of energy bills (usually the person was within a day or two of having their power turned off). Other calls are for assistance with water bills, rent payment, clothing, furniture medical prescriptions and appliances. SVDP has a small pantry in the basement of the parish office for emergency situations.

Our 11 member SVDP group meets approximately every other week to review requests. Each meeting begins with a spiritual reflection on the upcoming Sunday gospel reading, followed by a meditation on that reading and some words from St. Vincent DePaul's writings about helping the poor followed by a discussion.

SVDP’s funding is from the generous donations of parishioners. A second collection is made 4 times a year on the 5th Sunday of the month. Over $40,000 was collected in 2015 and the same amount was paid out.

Christmas gifts and gift cards were provided to many families that would otherwise have had very little. According to Diane Williams, “It brings tears to your eyes when the people come to pick up their gifts and see what we have provided and become overwhelmed by our generosity. We truly get to see God's face in the people we serve. We truly feel called to serve the poor and downtrodden and are enriched ourselves by serving them.”

Members spend an average of one hour with the person or family to gather information about their needs. They take the time to listen to their client’s problems and try to find a way to help besides financial assistance. Diane added, “We always close with prayer and ask God to watch over them and their families and to help them get out of their situation and to feel God's presence within them. We are encouraged by Pope Francis being such a supporter of caring for the poor and hope to be able to serve more people this year.”

Kudos Corner salutes our SVDP Conference…and thanks the entire team for being missionaries of mercy!

This month’s Kudos Corner recognizes Jack Heckler. Feb. 2016

As our parish focuses on the Corporal Work of Mercy “clothe the naked” this month…we are honoring Jack for his years of volunteer service at Mary Magdalen House in Over the Rhine. Located at 1223 Main Street, this non-profit agency describes itself as “an oasis of hospitality providing a safe and pleasant place for persons in need, to shower, shave, brush their teeth, use a toilet, and have clothes laundered.” Their website states: “We believe that dignity is the beginning of hope.”

One man taking part in that mission of hope is Visi parishioner Jack Hekler. He says he was about to retire in 2006 and was hoping to do some volunteering…when “the Spirit called me through the radio!” He says his wife Barbara was listening to Jim Scott on WLW talking about how Mary Magdalen House needed clothing and other supplies. So on her suggestion, he went down to the facility on a Saturday morning and was given a tour by Marianist Brother Juan Carlos…known there as Brother John. That’s when he felt the gentle tug on his heart.

Jack says he always loved St. Francis and “when I saw the need and how many homeless there are on our streets…I felt called.” The clincher, he says, was when when his wife pointed out his mother’s name: Mary Magdalene Hekler. Jack says it was like his mom’s way of telling him, “Go for it!”

He did…and has been volunteering every Wednesday afternoon since. Jack assists in sorting the clothing of the homeless men and women who come in, washing and drying them, and then returning the clothing to bags with their clients’ names on them. He says Mary Magdalen House serves 100 to 125 people a day…who are provided showers and then clean clothing.

Jack and his wife Barbara have three daughters and one son who all graduated from Our Lady of the Visitation School. A member of the parish since 1978, he’s grateful to have found a new calling in his retirement years. Jack says sometimes he’ll find a box of clothing, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc. on his porch. Seems news of his calling to “clothe the naked” has spread to neighbors and strangers alike who often drop off donations.
Kudos Corner salutes Jack Hekler…and thanks him for answering the call!

This month’s Kudos Corner recognizes Dan Meyer, CEO of Nehemiah Manufacturing in Over the Rhine. Jan. 2016

As our parish focuses on the Corporal Work of Mercy “Visit the imprisoned” this month…we would like to honor Dan for his dedication and passion in helping “returning citizens” (those who have served time in prison and are now trying to get their lives on track).

Nehemiah was founded in 2009 with a goal of building brands, creating jobs and changing lives. There is an employment base of 110 people with 70 being part of the manufacturing and warehousing. Dan says of that 70, 50 have either a felony or a history of drug/alcohol abuse which makes it virtually impossible to find sustainable employment. He says, “By treating our family members (which is how he refers to his employees) with love, dignity, and respect we have created the hardest working, most committed workforce.”

Dan says that many employees who come to Nehemiah just need a chance to prove themselves…but due to their records are invisible to most companies. However, Dan says many times his workers turn out to be the hardest working people he has ever seen. “In proving themselves, these employees become fiercely loyal, insistent on high quality, positive teamers who help each other and sacrifice for the success of all.”

Through the mission of his company Dan has seen families reunited and hope restored. Dan says, “We know that giving people a chance is the right thing to do.”

It’s also what Jesus would do!

Kudos Corner salutes Dan Meyer!