This article was originally published in the March 2023 issue of the Congregation of the Mission Western Province newsletter, The Vincentian, as part of of three-piece article on the Apostle of Charity Residence. 

Fr. Tom Croak, C.M. (pictured left), walks into the community room at the Apostle of Charity Residence and takes a seat next to Fr. Bill Hartenbach, C.M. Fr. Bill says, “How are you?” and Fr. Tom responds, “I’m on the right side of the grass.”

The two laugh and admit that gallows humor is common among the Vincentians who live at the Apostle of Charity Residence in Perryville, MO. Fr. Bill, 85, and Fr. Tom, 84, have known each other for years, as most of the men at the residence have. In fact, when Fr. Bill was Provincial Superior for the Western Province from 1996 to 2002, Fr. Tom served as a member of the Provincial Council.

“This is one of the best investments the (Province) has ever made,” said Fr. Tom. “I’m where I belong. I’m content and happy.”

They speak fondly as well of the staff and the opportunity they have to live in community at the residence.

“The nursing staff is outstanding,” Fr. Tom said. “I’m really fond of them. They take awfully good care of us. And to the donors that support us here, I want to thank them for their generosity. They have been great.”

Fr. Bill, who suffers from acute pneumonia, said the care they receive goes beyond meals and medical care.

“I remember when one of the confreres, George Weber, passed away,” Fr. Bill said. “I was at his wake, and two of the staff were there. I said to one of them, ‘It’s good of you to be here.’ She said, ‘We’re family.’ To me, that sums it up.”