May we be in this world a ray of that light which shone forth from Bethlehem, bringing joy and peace to all men and women. (Pope Francis)
In my volunteer role on the Gospel of Life council at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church, I perform all sorts of non-glamorous tasks. Most of them seem to involve logistics work— like organizing data, writing copy, or making phone calls. It was in this capacity that I first heard the name Roger Helmkamp. You see, OLMC was teaming up with nearby St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish to bring in a speaker for a couple of days to talk to folks about mindfulness. It was a joint attempt to help folks work on their mental health and anxiety issues in a meaningful way, with their faith at the center of the effort. My initial interactions revealed quickly that Roger is a friendly, good-hearted man with an excellent sense of humor. Also, he’s totally on the ball.
A few weeks later, I met Roger in person for the first time. He was present, attending to the needs of family and friends for the showing and funeral mass of my very dear friend, Karen Volpe. During a difficult and emotional couple of days, there was Roger making sure everything went off thoughtfully and without a hitch.
When I ran into this amiable, handsome guy at my nearby Kroger a few weeks ago, he went out of his way to say hello and re-introduce himself. He was out of context and it took me a moment to register his face, but it came to me quickly as he began to speak.
As I began to think this morning about who I wanted to write about today, I decided it would be fitting to write about a man who spends his days working for the rest of us, helping us on our journey to know and love the Lord a little better. I am not sure how many folks realize the hours and effort it takes to pull off Advent and Christmas in a Catholic parish. When you take the normal workload, and add to it the preparations and expectation of the season— it can be a bit overwhelming. These parish employees are the ones largely responsible to keep the boat floating. They are not getting rich doing this work either. Often, their service is overlooked or simply taken for granted. Today, I wanted to give a little shout out to one of these folks- a competent, articulate, positive thinker named Roger.
Here’s what I wanted to say to him this Christmas Eve day. Roger, you are a good man who is spending your days being the face of Jesus to others, and I’m thankful to have met you this year! What you do matters. You are that ray of light Pope Francis is encouraging us all to be, by the way you live your life. I suspect your family already knows how blessed they are to have you in their days, because you are clearly a man of integrity! Merry Christmas!!