Although the practice is not as prevalent now as it was in the past, high school aged-students used to earn a few dollars after school answering the door and phones in busy rectories as they did their homework. This one such young lady with whom I have had occasional contact through the years is a mother of two young children now. I had a strange combination of feelings pass over me recently when I learned that she was punched in the face by the man she was living with, during an otherwise ordinary disagreement which many married couples navigate without resorting to physical violence. Unfortunately, spousal abuse happens more often than most people realize and it is not confined to those on the lower socio-economic scale. It is as prevalent in the zip codes of those earning six-figures as it is in the zip codes of those with more modest incomes.
The point is: what is an abused and battered woman supposed to do? Your donations to the Annual Catholic Appeal support ministries that care for real people under extreme duress. They help real people like the battered mother of two that I know. Your donations feed hungry people. They house elderly people on fixed-incomes. Make no mistake about it, your donations to the Annual Catholic Appeal in excess of $50,000.00 this year ($6,000.00 above our published goal) support the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life.
As we pray through the Letters of St. Paul at Mass, I’m reminded that being a pastor has never been easy. With that being said, what makes it so worthwhile is working with uncommon people like Mr. Eugene Haessig, a recently departed parishioner of St. George, who is fairly well-known for his dedication to the poor even among the parishioners of St. Dominic Savio. In order for a parish to thrive, it takes the involvement of all kinds of people, but some make contributions that are so far beyond the norm that they are rightly referred to as “pillars of the parish.” Gene Haessig was such a “pillar.” These folks dislike the limelight. They loath attracting attention to themselves. They go about their work quietly, diligently and with a level of dedication that inspires priests to work even harder.
Gene worked for decades organizing the Annual Catholic Appeal for his parish, a thankless, but necessary task. Unbeknownst to his sons, he helped many folks get their G.E.D., so that they could go on to better things in life. Gene worked for years in his parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society and, along with some others, was a driving force in the organization of the Affton Christian Food Pantry, a jewel in the crown of the Affton community. When his sons asked Gene what he wanted for his birthday, he’d say: “Why not work a day in the food pantry.” Having lived a full life Christian life, Gene died in his 91st year with his three boys at his bedside. When the time arrives for his eternal reward, I can imagine Jesus sending out the poor to welcome Gene to the kingdom of heaven. Who is going to be the next Gene Haessig?
Sacred Heart of Jesus, pray for us!
Fr. Paul J. Rothschild