April 24, 2009

Lasting memories the norm for parishioners throughout archdiocese

175th Anniversary Logo(Editor’s note: To help mark the celebration of the 175th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, The Criterion is occasionally sharing stories and memories from readers of how their lives have been shaped by their Catholic faith and the Church in central and southern Indiana. This week, we share four stories, ranging from a woman who found a home in the Church to a bishop’s advice that changed a man’s life.)

Compiled by John Shaughnessy

Finding a home

“I had always attended the Catholic Church prior to coming to Indiana in 1997, but was never involved beyond attendance,” writes Melinda Willey. “I decided when I went to college that I did not like my Catholic choices in Muncie. I began to entertain other churches, but never found one where I was completely home.

“Then I met my future husband, Matthew, and he introduced me to a church in the Indianapolis area where he lived. Even though he was not Catholic—he was Christian—he thought I would like this church. He took me to Mass for the first time on Easter Sunday 2000. The church had the welcoming feeling I had desired, and it was the first time my husband had ever gone to a Catholic Mass.

“Who would have known that seven years later we would be baptizing our son into the Catholic faith on Easter? Who would have known that eight years later my husband would be joining the Catholic faith on Easter Vigil?

“We have moved to the south side of Indianapolis since that fateful Easter. Our current church, St. Jude, is also warm and inviting. We are more involved with the Church now than I ever had been before. Besides Mass, we enjoy other functions such as parish festivals and the fish fry. Additionally, this is my fourth year teaching religious education.

“No matter where we are or which church we call home, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis will always have a special meaning to me and my family.”

A homily so good, it’s smoking

“ ‘If you got them, smoke them.’ Those words get your attention when used as an introduction to a homily,” begins Robert Krakoski, a member of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus.

“Military guys and gals know what those words mean, and Father Patrick Gleason, then pastor of [the former]

St. Columba Parish [in Columbus], used them to great effect to get the attention of those parishioners in attendance at a Memorial Day observance Mass in 1973.

“You see, Father Gleason had been a military chaplain at an airbase in England during World War II, and he called on his recollections of that time to pay homage to those young, gallant fighter pilots who came to him for spiritual support prior to taking to the skies.

“He described in heart-rending detail how helpless and inadequate he felt when trying to comfort those pilots, many of whom were destined never to return from their missions. There wasn’t a dry eye in the church.

“As a member of St. Columba/ St. Bartholomew parishes since 1964, I have heard many excellent homilies from subsequent pastors Father Joseph McNally and Father Clem Davis, but none has stayed in my memory the way Father Gleason’s message of more than 30 years ago has done.”

The joys of parish life

“My daughters and I anticipate with excitement the annual St. Christopher Mid-Summer Festival in July,” Mark Hummer notes. “They have the best food anywhere. Over the years, I have volunteered at the bingo tent, the dining room and the lemon shake-up booth.

“I always feel moved when I hear the trumpets play on Easter Sunday Mass. The music at the St. Christopher Sunday night 5:30 guitar folk Mass makes you feel like singing at the top of your voice.

“Our kids always have a great time at the end of the year CCD ice cream party, and at the end of the summer family CCD picnic. Some of the other CCD activities my kids really look forward to are the pizza parties, Christmas craft nights and the kids’ Jeopardy game.”

Baseball and a bishop’s call

Makenna Quigley shares this memory about her great-grandfather:

“Chuck Hill, who is my great-grandfather, has lived his life as a devout Catholic. He attended St. John’s School for boys in Indianapolis and Cathedral High School. As a serious student and also a server at St. John’s, Chuck had dreams of becoming a priest. Chuck played baseball in his childhood, and was skilled at the game. Because of his love of baseball, Chuck also had dreams of playing ball for a living.

“When he was about to graduate from Cathedral High School (Class of 1932), Chuck was offered a job to earn money playing baseball. But what about the priesthood? For Chuck, it was difficult to choose which direction he would go—take the baseball offer or enroll in St. Meinrad’s.

“Seeking counsel, Chuck visited Bishop [Joseph] Chartrand. Bishop Chartrand put his arm around Chuck and told him to follow his heart and play ball. Because of Bishop Chartrand, Chuck started his baseball career. Success in playing baseball led Chuck to his future job with the Indianapolis Fire Department, to his future wife, and to being a father of five children. Chuck held strong to his faith that guided him through his life.

“My great-grandfather, now 95, is a uniquely wonderful man. He was a sportsman and is an overall good person. Chuck Hill once stated, ‘I wouldn’t dare change one aspect of my life. I really enjoyed all the great things that happened to me. Without doing everything I did, I wouldn’t have the wonderful family [that] I have today. I love them all. I can’t believe life has been so fabulous to me. Someone up there must really love me.’ ” †

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