The faith of God's people in Old Monroe nurtured my own faith in a powerful way. Being surrounded by people during my formative years who understood the call to holiness certainly contributed to my discernment as to how I could best follow that same call to holiness in my own life. I still have plenty of room to grow in my faith journey, but I am blessed by grace to follow that call as a husband, father, and deacon.
In 1986 I experienced the greatest challenge of my life--being diagnosed with testicular cancer. I am still here 31 years later. There is no doubt in my mind that I found the strength to go on day after day in the hospital because of the prayers and support of my family, friends, and parishioners of Immaculate Conception Church. You may have long forgotten about my journey through chemotherapy, but I assure you that those 52 days in the hospital plus the months of recuperation remain etched in my memory. I am grateful to each and every one of you that reached out to me and my family during those difficult times. I know that was not the way my mom and dad had intended to spend their retirement--taking care of me--and I appreciate that many of you reached out to them in a very personal way during those challenging months. Your kindness was, and is, truly appreciated.
Unfortunately, I am unable to make the trip back to Missouri to attend the 150th celebration at Immaculate Conception Church. On behalf of Margaret and myself, I extend to all of you in Old Monroe our best wishes as you celebrate the Holy Eucharist with Archbishop Carlson tomorrow. May the next 150 years be filled with immense blessings. CONGRATULATIONS!