By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
CAMERON — St. Munchin is the only Catholic church in this town. That might cause an insular attitude to develop. Not so with St. Munchin parishioners; rather than focus solely on their church, they reach out to draw in the greater community around them.
In the last decade, the parish has sponsored the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Cameron; produced a pictorial parish directory; hosted Swann’s Ice Cream fund raisers; parish auctions; music festivals; quilt and other raffles; ham and bean dinners, Lenten fish fries, and the annual golf tournament at the Veteran’s Golf Course in Cameron. The Stewardship Council has played a major role in all community events benefitting the parish, from the first brainstorming ideas to the last light being turned off.
Members Mike Hanrahan, Linda “I’m the mac ‘n cheese lady” Daniels, Molly Gallus (member from St. Aloysius parish in Maysville), Kirby Stuedle, a youth group member, and Father Paul Turner, then-pastor of St. Munchin, discussed the Stewardship Council with The Catholic Key last month.
The council originated under a former pastor, Father Tom Hermes, and over the past 15 years, Father Turner said, it has steadily grown and gradually found its niche. “I’m very proud of the Stewardship Council and the way they take on projects. They’re not afraid to try new things, new ideas.” With a chuckle, he added, “The ideas sometimes don’t work out, like a babysitting service and no children came, but they keep on trying other new ideas, enthusiastically!”
“The main purpose of the Stewardship Council,” said Hanrahan, “is getting parishioners involved in attending and working events that raise money for the parish.”
He and all the members are justly proud of the Lenten Fish Fries hosted by the parish.
“They truly are a community event,” Hanrahan said. “We figured that if young people from the youth group were involved on the council, they would pull other young folks in. We now have whole families working the fish fries, cooking the food, serving it, being go-fers. We even had a band play at one of the fish fries. People come from all around. We always get a good response from St. Aloysius in Maysville, our mission and sister parish. Lots of people come that aren’t even Catholic.”
“We’ve learned a lot from the fish fries,” Father Turner said. “They are community builders, support local businesses — we buy our fish from a local deli — and it’s a form of evangelization. This past Lent, we combined the Friday night Stations of the Cross with the fish fries. That got new people to come and get a taste of who St. Munchin’s parishioners are. The fries have helped to change peoples’ perception of the Catholic Church.” The parish also hosts a fall fish fry as a dry run for the Lenten fries, which has attracted a lot of folks.
“It’s a big responsibility to be the Catholic church in a community. In a one Catholic church town, the church becomes the lifeblood of the community, whether residents are Catholic or not,” Hanrahan added.
“The people of this parish give their time, talent and treasure and they give it with enthusiasm!” he continued. “We manage and use the good things God has given us to serve others.”
As with all St. Munchin councils, Father Turner said, members volunteer or are nominated to serve for a commitment of two years.
Hanrahan explained, “Every other year we take names from all through the parish for all the councils. Stewardship Council is a combination of volunteering, nomination and discernment — is it a good fit for the prospective member and do they really want to serve?”
The council has two members representing the youth group. Both are graduating from high school and stepping down from the council, “so we’ll have two new young people.”
Hanrahan continued, “I think we do a pretty good job. Not everybody shows up for all the meetings but a core group shows up all the time. Father Turner provided us with parish needs and ideas and helped us brainstorm ideas and solutions. He also did a little nudging if it was needed.”
In the recently announced priest assignments, Father Turner was appointed to St. Anthony Parish in Kansas City, effective June 12, and he has since moved to that parish. Father Louis Farley, who, following his ordination to the priesthood May 28 last year, was assigned to assist Father Richard Rocha at St. John Francis Regis Parish in Kansas City, is the new pastor of St. Munchin, also effective June 12.
Father Farley’s first taste of community events was the annual parish golf tournament on June 23. “We start planning it at the beginning of the year,” Hanrahan said, “and it comes up fast.”
The tournament, like the fish fries, is labor intensive, but “good ideas pushed to the back burner will be gotten to,” he said. “We give out ‘Welcome’ information packets to new parish families. The packets help new families learn their way around the parish and help us recognize our supporters and sponsors from the community.”
Father Turner added that the tournament is held at a local golf club, which, like many Cameron businesses, works well with St. Munchin’s.
“The Stewardship Council works to create lots of opportunities,” he said, “where people can find themselves, something they can share in that benefits their parish. Any project we take on needs to fit the overall mission of the parish: through celebrating the Eucharist and empowering people to grow in love, faith and service profess our Christian faith to all those God places in our care. Take the fish fries, for example. They are traditional during Lent, fit our overall mission, and they bring people together, serving as a way of evangelization to a broader community.”
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Father Turner added, is “a way of putting our Catholic Church, our faith and history, and fun on the streets.”
Hanrahan said the St. Munchin Stewardship Council works to encourage people to take a look at the Church through the fish fries, ham and bean dinners, music festivals, parades, quilt raffles, golf tournaments and other events. “Maybe they’ll see us in action and think St. Munchin’s Catholic Church would be a good church home.”