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 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!

This month’s Kudos Corner recognizes Fr. Jim Schutte, Pastor of St. Leo the Great

This month’s Kudos Corner recognizes Fr. Jim Schutte, Pastor of St. Leo the Great. As our parish focuses “Welcome the Stranger” this month…who better to recognize for doing just that than Fr. Jim? As pastor of our “Covenant Partner” parish, Fr. Jim is a shining example of reaching out in love and support to many people who have found their way from other countries to his parish in N. Fairmount. He has been the pastor of St. Leo for the last eight years. During that time, there has been a growing population of refugees from Burundi, Africa and an already established parishioner base of immigrants from Guatemala that has also increased significantly during this time.

In Fr. Jim’s words: “Originally St. Leo’s was founded by German immigrants and now it is being renewed and reformed by immigrants and refugees from Burundi and Guatemala. We have a few families from the Congo. The Burundians speak Kirundi and are learning English. The Guatemalans speak Spanish and are also learning English. The parish provides English Classes twice a week.” (Several Visi parishioners volunteer as teachers in “English As a Second Language” classes.) “We have a parish nurse with two associates - interpreters for each language. We have a very active and good food pantry that provides outreach to our communities and neighborhoods.” (Many Visi parishioners also volunteer at the Food Pantry!) “We are striving to become one parish together with a diversity of people: Africans, Guatemalans, some African-Americans and Anglo-Americans. We rely on partnerships with groups and parishes and the collaboration of time, talent and treasure. Our mission is one that everyone can join and it complements the mission statements of other parishes and groups: We are a welcoming Catholic Community, grounded in Eucharistic Prayer, celebrating our diversity and sharing God's love through ministries of serving and being present in our urban neighborhoods, while focusing on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. I am thoroughly enjoying being somewhat of a "local missionary" and being a pastor for the good people of St. Leo the Great and extending the Lord's welcome to anyone and everyone who comes to our doorsteps.”

Fr. Jim, a priest of the Archdiocese for 36 years, has been a real blessing to us at Visi as he shares his enthusiasm and inspiration in his homilies here. He radiates the joy of the gospel in all that he does.

Kudos Corner salutes Fr. Jim Schutte!

This month’s Kudos Corner recognizes our Bereavement Committee.

Our Bereavement Committee is an amazingly dedicated group of volunteers, who under the guidance of Pastoral Associate Ken Meymann, help people through the funeral planning process and beyond. In response to a significant need that was perceived by the parishioners and the priests, Marilyn Coffaro and Rita Griffin started the Bereavement Committee. 

It is truly a labor of love for all those involved. The process takes the family of the deceased through the whole funeral: initial contact from the funeral home or the family, contact with the priest who will celebrate the funeral Mass, gathering the family to plan the funeral liturgy, including lectors, Eucharistic ministers, music, petitions, program design, timing of a eulogy, pall bearers, servers, and planning of the graveside service and anything and everything in between! If the family gets overwhelmed by the decisions ahead, they offer to pitch in to assume any role, as readers or Eucharistic ministers or whatever gap needs to be filled. They are ready and willing. 

Our committee takes each funeral personally: they are hosting the funeral in “our house” and do everything they can to make the family and whole congregation welcome. They try to meet the needs of all present, even if it means finding a source of calories for a diabetic person experiencing low blood sugar. They are true ministers. And as all good ministers are, they are good listeners.

Our committee is motivated to give back for those that helped them with their families funerals in the past. They support the families in their most vulnerable time of need, losing one of their family members. They feel uplifted and blessed by the whole process of service to another, following the greatest commandment to love thy neighbor. By doing this ministry they experience the real good in people. They find that funerals are a reaffirmation of life, a positive event, full of love and caring for others in need.

The process doesn’t stop there. Bill Tonnis, Pastoral Associate for Outreach, calls on each family at an appropriate time after the funeral. A series of books of grief support are sent out at regular intervals to help in the grieving process.

All who have their funerals here are remembered during a special Mass on All Souls Day, this year on Monday, November 2nd at 7 p.m.

Our Kudos go out to the dedicated members of the Bereavement Committee, their selfless gift to the families of the deceased and to all of us in this parish. They truly are the face of Jesus for those in need. May God’s blessing continue to fall to each of them, may the Holy Spirit continue to inspire them, and may we all continue to pray for them. 

Kudos Corner salutes: Marge Byrne, Joanne Coffaro, Marilyn Coffaro, Virginia Cushard, Peggy Flanigan, Dorothy Gillman, Rita Griffin, Cristina Holmes, Marilyn Jackson Marx, Pat Kiehl, Gwynne Krekeler, Marcella Leibel, Ann Macke, Monica McCullough, Judy Mellott, Ken Meymann, Thelma Murray, Sandy Peter, Dorothy Rasfeld, Sue Schwarz and Char Tribbe.