From our Director of Parish Operations, John Richards…
Hello! I am the new Director of Parish Operations (DPO). As I mentioned last week, I have been a parishioner here at St. John’s parish for almost 35 years now. Taking a job right out of college with Consumers Energy, I felt ‘at home’ here at St. John’s. It was destiny that I came here, as I met my wife Mary at Consumers. We married in 1993 and have 3 children. Our kids went through St. John Elementary, again solidifying becoming part of the parish and school family.
As I retired from Consumers Energy after 33 years of service in Information Technology, I knew that I wanted to do something within the Parish. It became apparent that I needed to do something with my spare time. It was also around this time that we heard the tragic news of Andy Bihl’s sudden passing. He was the DPO at the time. When I heard the news in church that Sunday, I felt sadness but yet a personal calling by the Lord. “You are going to be needed here.” I’ve never had that type of feeling. It came over me very strong and heavy; however, it took a while to cause me to act. I typically like to wait and see what happens and to analyze the situation. As time passed, I kept hearing Fr. Chas saying they hadn’t yet been able to post Andy’s position. So as usual, on cue, the Lord let me know it was OK to offer my time as a volunteer in the parish office and to help fill Andy’s void.
When the DPO position became available part-time, I didn’t think it was the right fit for me. I knew I was called to help, but this was more than I was willing to give, even part-time. I was content to be a volunteer and do what I wanted. But then I thought about that Sunday. Should I be doing more? As the DPO position came open again just recently, I prayerfully discerned the offer. There was a final ‘nudge,’ and it was the Lord calling me once again. “It’s ok, John.” And I answered the call.
Working as a volunteer this past year has really helped me understand the operations of the parish and parish life in general. Coming from the business world you get ingrained into how a business needs to operate. With a parish, it is a bit different. For one, you are not generating revenue by selling your company product(s). Here, we are providing many of “God’s services.” Being a non-profit organization, you have to rely on the generosity of others to support you. This all takes getting used to; however, there are certain aspects of the parish that should be run like a business. The daily operations of the parish staff require business policies and procedures to guide the work being done. The many facilities we have are continuously being maintained. We have capital projects in flight to upgrade these facilities. These projects give us the fiscal responsibility to be good stewards with the parish finances.
The Witness to Hope (W2H) projects are an example of this. With your continual and generous pledge payments, we will be repaving the west parking lot this summer. This will give us a much-needed new pavement that will be aesthetically pleasing with new landscaping and fully functional with new lights, drains, and sewer. Other W2H projects on the horizon include new windows for the elementary school and devising a master plan that includes restoration to the interior of the church.
The Capital Campaign fund (yellow contribution envelopes from your packets) provides funding for future capital projects that include things addressing the steeple louvers atop St. John Church, a new school roof, and repair of the bell tower roof leak and convent roof repair at St. Joseph, just to name a few. We have a 10-year plan for our buildings and grounds that documents all of the necessary items needed to keep all of our facilities viable now and in the future, and your support of the Capital Campaign helps fund these many upcoming expenses.
I am looking forward to the good works the parish is doing and also to the challenges ahead. I feel blessed to be part of the parish and will provide it the talent God has given me.
Note: At last weekend’s Masses, Fr. Chas introduced our new Director of Parish Operations, John Richards, and we’d like to welcome John and thank him for answering the nudges of the Holy Spirit to serve our parish in this role! John will be focused on the business end of our parish, working with the finance department and buildings and grounds, guiding the many projects that these areas entail.