Bishop lauds volunteers for 'living out the Gospel'
By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY - They are the people who are called when the pastor needs something done.
Kevin Kelly/Key photo
Bishop Raymond J. Boland presents the Bishop's Medal to Robert Simmerman of St. Columba Parish, Conception Junction. Simmerman was among 120 Catholics honored Oct. 7 at the Bishop's Recognition Mass.
They cook the meals. They join committees. They repair buildings. They clean the church. They serve in liturgical roles as choir members, lectors and Eucharistic ministers.
The 121 people from 65 parishes and missions who were honored at the annual Bishop's Recognition Mass and reception Oct. 7 at St. Thomas More Parish are, in the words of Bishop Raymond J. Boland, "the cream of the crop."
"You are the ones who do all the things that need to be done, not once, but again and again and again," the bishop told them.
Their ranks this year included a custodian whose award was received posthumously.
Don Franke, longtime custodian at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Redemptorist) Parish, was the kind of guy who never met a stranger, said his long-time friend John Gordon.
Franke died in July from amyloidosis, an extremely rare condition in which bone marrow produces a protein that attacks vital organs.
"He was just a very holy Christian man," said his widow, Eileen, who accepted his award. "He loved the church and God, and he loved people."
Franke was a minister even in his first career as a barber, preaching to the men whose hair he cut, and taking extra time with youngsters from the Jackson County Juvenile Center, near his shop.
One of his customers was Clarence Kelley, former Kansas City police chief and successor to J. Edgar Hoover as director of the FBI.
"He always told Don that he had a captive audience," Eileen Franke said.
Franke was never afraid to express his opinion, Gordon said, nor did he care if you agreed with him. "He didn't want to offend you," Gordon said, "but he didn't lose any sleep over it."
In his homily, Bishop Boland said doing God's work isn't always spectacular, nor does it always grab headlines.
"We honor you this evening even though most of you don't believe you are doing anything to warrant such an honor," he told the honorees and their friends and families that packed the spacious church on a Monday night.
"Certainly, most of you never sought these honors, or saw them as the result of your devotion to do good things in the name of Christ and his church," Bishop Boland said.
But following the mandate of Christ to spread his kingdom often involves routine work done by people humble enough and strong enough in faith to do it, Bishop Boland said.
"Over the centuries, we have made a fundamental error in thinking that the mandate only applied to preachers and missionaries traversing the Third Word, or, closer to home, professionals and other evangelists, some of the TV variety, constantly telling us that God is the answer," Bishop Boland said.
"All these initiatives can be good and they have their place," the bishop said. "But we must never let them underestimate the value of the humdrum, day-to-day living out of the Gospel which is the stock in trade of your daily living."
Noting the variety of tasks they perform for their church communities, Bishop Boland thanked the honorees for their work.
"The variety of your services, many of them very humble, is endless," he said. "You are here this evening because others have recommended you to receive the Bishop's Medal and a certificate. It is our way of saying thank you with a little gift. But it is nothing in comparison to the blessings you will receive from our God, the creator of our human family."
Bishop Boland celebrated Mass with nine priests concel-ebrating and three deacons assisting. In the pews along with the honorees were dozens of pastors and pastoral administrators.
The 2002 Bishop's Recognition Award honorees:
Annunciation, Kearney: Suzanne Amberg, Ted Amberg Jr.
Blessed Sacrament, Bethany: Herman Dube, Margaret Dube.
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Kansas City: James Norwood, J.C. Sanders.
Cathedral of St. Joseph: Bonnie Haghirian, Margaret Pinzino.
Christ the King, Kansas City: Margaret Jackson, Lenora Stratemeyer.
Coronation, Grandview: Barbara Cattle, David Cattle.
Guardian Angels, Kansas City: John Sheeley, Doris Thompson.
Holy Cross, Kansas City: Joseph Brocato, Mary Frances Workman.
Holy Martyrs, Kansas City: Pham Van Si, Dang Van Tu.
Holy Rosary, Clinton: Ralph Clary.
Holy Rosary, Kansas City: Judy LaBella, Salvatore Paris.
Holy Trinity, Weston: Maureen Vernon, William Vernon.
Immaculate Conception, Lexington: Johnny Beretta, Randy Beretta.
Immaculate Conception, Montrose: James Munsterman, Karen Munsterman.
Immaculate Conception, Richmond: Bridget Sanders, John Sanders.
Mary Immaculate, Gallatin: Richard Smith, Joe Van Becelaere.
Nativity of Mary, Independence: Paula S. Cassity, Mary Singer.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Joseph: Sandy Allan Gumm, Debra Kay Ideker.
Our Lady of Lourdes, Harrisonville: Bette Purtle, Don Purtle.
Our Lady of Lourdes, Raytown: Helen Hartman, Sharon Ann Seigler.
Our Lady of Peace, Kansas City: Marco Rodriguez, Michael Rzepczyk.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Redemptorist), Kansas City: Donald Franke.
Our Lady of Sorrows, Kansas City: Theresa Balke, Nathan Fountain.
Sacred Heart, Hamilton: Donna Sanders, Christine Woods.
Sacred Heart, Norborne: Evelyn Weisz.
Sacred Heart, Warrensburg: Ed Robison, Peggy Shaul.
Sacred Heart-Guadalupe, Kansas City: Maria Elena Aguirre, Rita Mabery.
St. Aloysius, Kansas City: Rafael Cantu, Dianne Tran.
St. Aloysius, Maysville: Mark Nold.
St. Andrew the Apostle, Gladstone: Donald M. Donahue, Stephen Upschulte.
St. Ann, Excelsior Springs: Les Pingel, Judy Schreiber.
St. Ann, Independence: George Huddleston, John Spor.
St. Anthony, Kansas City: Pearl Cervello, Chris Urnise.
St. Bridget, Pleasant Hill: Howard Burbach.
St. Charles Borromeo, Oakview: Marius Hubbell, Joan Smith.
St. Columba, Conception Junction: Linda Mattson, Robert Simmerman.
St. Elizabeth, Kansas City: Velma Bowman, Alan Lankford.
St. Francis Xavier, Kansas City: Bruce Eddy, Lois Shinkle.
St. Francis Xavier, St. Joseph: Joseph Jezak, Rose Marie Jezak.
St. Gabriel the Archangel, Kansas City: Nadine Jackson, Richard Jackson.
St. Gregory Barbarigo, Maryville: Amy Klaas, Nathan Klaas.
St. James, Kansas City: David Cozad, Gretchen Green.
St. James, Liberty: Joseph Barry, Melinda Dolphin.
St. John Francis Regis, Kansas City: David Ball, Daniel Turlin.
St. John LaLande, Blue Springs: Sue Robb.
St. Joseph, Easton: Bob Everett, Jane Everett.
St. Joseph the Worker, Independence: Clara Fae Kennedy, Johnny Vollrath.
St. Louis, Kansas City: Sara Anderson, Billie Henry.
St. Mary, Independence: Robert Emmett Brice Sr., Sylvia Mae Brown.
St. Munchin, Cameron: Sheryl Bestgen, Maureen Foster.
St. Patrick, Butler: Sue Koehler.
St. Patrick, St. Joseph: Raymond Guardado, Martel Lehr.
St. Patrick, Forest City: Richard Ottman.
St. Patrick, Ford City: Caroline Eiberger, Lili Ann Parsons.
St. Patrick, Holden: Catherine Miller.
St. Peter, Kansas City: David Sosinski, Teresa Bruns Sosinski.
St. Peter, Stanberry: Betty Ginther, Frances McQuinn.
St. Raphael, Kansas City: Charleen DeLouis, Ruben Yanez.
St. Robert Bellarmine, Blue Springs: Kathy Mees, Robert Mees.
St. Rose of Lima, Savannah: Stephen Curran, Wanda Curran.
St. Sabina, Belton: Genevieve Leo, Alice Maedge.
St. Therese Little Flower, Kansas City: Helen Harbin, Paul Harbin.
St. Therese, Parkville: Reba Bradbury.
St. Thomas More, Kansas City: Alice Purcell Egelhoff, Mary J. O'Donnell.
Visitation, Kansas City: Dolores Henderson, Julia Lajoie.
Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph: Beverly Ann Cherrito.