This article was originally published in the fall 2023 edition the The Vincentian, the quarterly newsletter of the Congregation of the Mission Western Province.
By Mary Lou Frank
I was raised Catholic. But, like many young adults do, I fell away from practicing the faith. (Trying to be a decent wife and mother seemed religion enough for me.) I was 35 when, thanks to St. Therese of Lisieux, I experienced a dramatic conversion of heart. She and Mother Teresa of Calcutta became my spiritual heroes.
Suddenly, I wanted to live out their brand of humility; their deep concern for the poor; their simple, quiet lives of faith.
Some 10 years later, in 2012, I was introduced to the Congregation of the Mission through its Association of the Miraculous Medal (AMM) ministry. From the very start, I began discovering in the Vincentian priests and brothers the same virtues I admired in those holy women.
I met Father Ray Van Dorpe, then Provincial — the top guy in the Western Province. I respected Fr. Ray’s humility and amiable demeanor. You never felt like he was lording any authority over you. I remember thinking, “Here’s a down-to-earth leader, a good man.”
I next met the late Father Oscar Lukefahr. “Fr. Luke” was a respected author of numerous books about Catholicism and Mary. One by one, I devoured those works. I thought, “Here’s another good man.”
In Father John Gagnepain I discovered a forthright, straight-from-the-hip shooter about the truths of Catholicism. I love Fr. John’s deep confidence in and love for Our Lady. One more good man.
During COVID my elderly father moved into a Vincentian parish and needed rides to Mass. “I like that guy’s homilies,” he told me of Father Jim Cormack, pastor at St. Catherine Labouré at the time. I began taking him; he was right. Add one in the “good guy” column.
On it went. Frs. Bob and Dick Gielow, Fr. Patrick McDevitt, Fr. Toshio Sato, Fr. Ron Hoye, and others — in meeting each, my own spirituality seemed to grow. These men impressed me as wholly devoted to building up God’s children and kingdom in a manner marked by humility, simplicity, and persevering fortitude. Much like the saintly women warriors who got me on a better path back when.
I’m grateful for the Vincentian priests and brothers. And with today’s world in desperate need of more than a few good men, it became an easy decision to start making regular gifts in support of their ministries and retirement needs.
Mary Lou Frank is a lifelong St. Louisan. She and her husband have four children and two grandchildren. In addition to contributing monthly, Mary Lou offers a few hours each quarter to assist the development efforts of the Congregation of the Mission.
caption: With her daughters in Missouri’s beautiful Ozark country, Mary Lou says her greatest desire for her family is for each to find and live by God’s truth. She works to share with them the Vincentian spirit of charity and humility.