Volunteering and helping others is a big part of your life — especially since retiring from Catholic Financial Life four years ago. What are some of the ways you do this?
I’m involved with quite a few organizations through my parish, St. Mary Mother of God in Menomonee Falls. My wife Debbie and I have been members since 1977. We were active with the school while our four children were there, and I am still active in the parish, including being an usher for 37 years. Beyond the parish, I am vice president of our local Catholic Financial Life service chapter, which is active in the community in many ways. Just to name a few, we provide volunteers for fish fries that raise money for Catholic schools, we place flags at VA cemeteries and lead flag day ceremonies at Catholic grade schools. I also lead bingo and the Rosary at an assisted living home where my brother lives.
Why are blood drives and giving blood so important to you?
It is really an important way of giving back for me because when I was born, I needed a blood transfusion. I wouldn’t be alive if someone hadn’t given blood. I donate platelets every two weeks at the blood center — I’m on a regular schedule.
People who know you say you are always smiling and willing to help. How do you stay so positive?
I have a very strong faith, and my goal is to live each day to the fullest by leading a good life and following Jesus. It’s not always easy — especially when you experience the loss of a loved one, or loss of a job, as many of us do over the course of life. But you have to trust in God and take up your cross like Jesus. These struggles just bring us closer to him, and that is a reason to feel blessed. I also get strength from my faith community at St. Mary. I participate in the Rosary prayer group at the parish, as well as the men’s group led by Fr. Andrew Linn, our associate pastor. Being around men of different ages in the faith is a real blessing.
You feel it’s incumbent upon all Catholics to be servants to others, but you also enjoy it — what brings you enjoyment?
I am a people person. I love talking to people and getting to know them. When I usher, I get to meet a lot of the young families in the parish. Seeing the children at Mass is such a joy. It’s not easy for them to sit through the Mass when they are young, but it’s so important for them to be there. It’s wonderful seeing the faith passed on as my parents did, and my wife and I did with our children. When I am out in the community, serving others and seeing them smile to receive a meal at St. Ben’s, or thanking them for giving blood — it just makes me feel good. Sometimes nine or 10 people might show up when I lead the Rosary at the assisted living home where my brother is, other times there may only be one. But that one person is so happy to have someone to pray with — how can you not feel good?
Sometimes people want to serve, but they aren’t sure where to start. What advice would you give?
There are a lot of needs in the world. God will lead you where you are most needed. Just know that when you live like Jesus in your everyday life, you will be serving him and others. When I get up in the morning, I know that it’s a gift and my call that day is to serve God however he asks.