July 18, 2014

Be Our Guest / Mark Hummer

A heartfelt ‘thank you’ to two priests who gave much to our parish community

Goodbye, Father David Lawler and Father Mike Welch, and “thanks for the memories.”

In 1996, when my wife, Siming, and I moved to Indianapolis from the Toledo, Ohio, area, one of the very first things that I did was to find a parish. And that parish was the Catholic community of St. Christopher in the Speedway area.

The first smiling face that I encountered was Father Mike Welch, who had been assigned as pastor of St. Christopher since 1983. He baptized two of our three daughters, Lilly and Ava. Our other daughter, Valarie, was baptized at Corpus Christi Parish in Toledo, Ohio. Father Mike later gave first Communion to all three of our children.

At Mass, everyone enjoyed his Irish sense of humor, his stories about growing up in the New Albany area, hearing about the trials and tribulations of his ski trips, and his getting soaked in the dunk tank at the annual St. Christopher’s Mid-Summer Festival.

Also, on Sundays, he would always visit with our youngest daughter at Einstein Bagels in Speedway after CCD.

After Father Bob Gilday left St. Christopher Parish in 2003 for another assignment, the community was blessed to have Father David Lawler in its presence. Father Dave always had a calm, quiet, nurturing demeanor about himself and a genuine down-to-earth human nature that comes naturally to him.

He has always been concerned with issues of social justice, the poor, and reminded us to “count our blessings.”

One time, before one of daughters was too young to attend Mass in the main church, I kept her in the child care area. After church had ended and everyone had left, I got home and realized I left one of our daughter’s favorite toys behind.

Father Dave, in a calm, smooth demeanor, opened up the parish center and said, “Let’s see if we can’t find that and put everyone at ease”—which we did.

Father Dave’s Mass homilies reminded me a great deal of one of my favorite priests from the University of Toledo, the late Father Robert Kirtland, because they both brought the historical context of the readings into the modern-day world that we live in.

Father Dave’s last Mass at St. Christopher Parish was on June 29, and Father Mike’s last Mass was on June 15 (Fathers’ Day).

Thank you to both of these priests for all their years of service and for all the great memories. Enjoy your retirement!
 

(Mark Hummer and his family are members of St. Christopher Parish in Indianapolis.)

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