Always Answer Your Phone
by Karen Ford
I was retired, earlier than I had expected to be, but retired, and this is key to my story. On a sunny, warm October morning in 2012, at 9:00 AM, I got a phone call from Rita at St. Patrick, saying Fr. Tony would like to see me. “Why would he want to see me”, I asked myself. “I don’t even go to St. Patrick”. “How did he get my name?” All these thoughts were running through my head as I asked when he would like to see me, and in the background I heard “20 minutes ago”. I felt like I was being called to the principal’s office, and not for a good reason. I said I would throw on some lipstick and head down. When I walked through the front door of the office, I was greeted with “nice lipstick”! I liked Fr. Tony instantly but had no idea just how much my life was about to change because I answered the phone.
I met Fr. Tony once, earlier that year in July. He, along with Fr. Jarek, were apparently new to the parish, and we were greeted by them both as my husband Mike and I came to Mass to celebrate our anniversary in the church we were married in, 40 years earlier. Mike was a regular attendee here, but for the past number of years, I had not been going. We had been parishioners at St. Joseph, where I truly became Catholic. I had been a convert to Catholicism when we married, but it was at St. Joseph where it all came together for me.
We moved back to the St. Patrick area to look after two old cousins of Mike, who were the sisters of Msgr. Art O’Brien and long-time parishioners of St. Patrick. They lived up the street on Victoria Avenue South, and we were given a very good deal on a house as part of the enticement to look after them. I tried going to St. Patrick, but after being so involved at St. Joseph, there was nothing for me to get involved in here, so I attended very sporadically. We sold the house on Victoria S., but while living there, we purchased the triplex next to us as an investment. The house we were moving to was again another old house with major repairs that needed to be done, which meant that we now owned two old money pits – one a rental and one we lived in.
After 11 years of repairs (not to mention money spent) on two houses, we decided would sell the house we were living in, gut the triplex, and convert it to a single family home. We both worked fulltime and had four kids. We moved into the house with only the bathroom and a couple of bedrooms sort of finished and completed the rest of the renovation while we lived in the house. Needless to say, Mass was not a priority for me, but it should’ve been. Our youngest son, who was 8, and our daughter who was 12, did not have the benefit of the involvement in the church that our two older children had experienced. How unfair to them and a regret of mine to this day.
Long story short, I was hired on the spot that day by Fr. Tony. I was asked to make lunch for he, Fr. Jarek and the staff, 4 hours a day, 3 days a week. I was also asked if I would take minutes for the Finance Committee. Things sailed along for a while, when Fr. Tony recognized the growing need for sandwiches and coffee for people coming to the office door. This was the beginning of De Mazenod Door Outreach and things began to change. I don’t remember the circumstances, but Fr. Tony got me to write up something for him, which seemed to sprout the seed that maybe I could be more useful somewhere else. In September 2015, my hours changed from 4 hours/day, 3 days a week to 8 hours/day, 4 days a week. I am now retired one day a week.
I am so grateful for that phone call in October! My house may be cleaner if I hadn’t answered the phone that day, but God had other plans for me. I work with a great group of people, fully committed to St. Patrick Church and the Amazing Parish it is becoming. I am never bored!! There is always something that needs doing, and as you start doing one thing, something else becomes more important.
What do I ask you to take away from my story? Just this. Never doubt God’s plans for you, and always answer your phone.