Thirty years ago, in mid-May 1993, I was busy preparing for two major events, the first would lead to the other.

Two years prior, while on a year-long internship at Annunciation Parish in Denver, CO, I started an affordable housing program. You see, there was this boarded-up house across the street from the church. Having taken a look at it I said to myself, “Someone ought to do something about that.” I distinctly heard a reply, “So do something.”

A few weeks later I formed a not-for-profit corporation, raised some money, bought the house, recruited volunteers and, in short, did something. By God’s grace, the organization grew and I managed to return to seminary, not too many miles away, where, from my student room, I continued my studies, raised funds so we could buy more houses and renovate them, hired employees, dealt with bankers and lawyers and neighbors and more and, oh yeah, prepared to be ordained a priest.

As I cycled from the seminary to construction sites and back, too many times to count, I had an idea. Why not raise money for Housing Partners by biking from Denver to St. Louis, where I would be ordained? There were (are) four of us who love to ride: Will and Jim, former fellow seminarians and now employees of the organization, as well as Sarah, now Jim’s wife of 30 years. Like I said, we love to ride. We could do this together and. . .well, we did!

According to the map, Denver to St. Louis on I-70 is 853 miles. We asked donors for a penny a mile or $8.53.

We raised about $35,000. I still remember opening envelopes–lots of them! Some with checks for $8.53, others with $10 or $28.53 and a few for $853! There were notes with prayers and blessings and thanks and enthusiastic support. All these people were in my prayers as I knelt before Bishop McManus on Friday, June 18, 1993 at St. Vincent dePaul Church in St. Louis, MO. It was quite a ride with quite an ending. That was 30 years ago.

So, how to celebrate 30 years of priesthood? By inviting everyone to pitch-in, of course!

Oh, in 2023, June 18 just happens to be Father’s Day. So, in honor of your father, and the 30th anniversary of my ordination, I am inviting you to pitch in to VIMS’ latest appeal: A Father’s Sacrifice. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing more information about a residential school for young boys in Northern India.

Students live on a campus that provides everything from dorm-style housing to classrooms to ballfields and gardens where they help grow the vegetables they eat. What’s missing? A kitchen! Right now meals are prepared in a “shed” that has seen better days. During the rainy season. . .well, you get the idea. 

So, VIMS is partnering with the Vincentian Solidarity Office (VSO) to build a real kitchen where meals for these (more or less) 165 children will be prepared and where they can sit down and eat together. Think of how much better this will make things for them! They already are far from home, away from family. . .having a place to eat good food with their friends and classmates will make a world of difference. You can help make that world of difference happen with your gift.  

Will you help? Click here to donate, or keep scrolling for more ways to donate in a quick and secure fashion.

Fr. Mark

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