May 25, 2003
Make an impact
Rudy Harper was on the phone. He was a bit angry and a bit sad. Rudy, who teaches at Leo High School, is nothing if not passionate.
He had just come from the funeral of Father Michael Nallen (see obituary, Page 43), and said he was disappointed with the turnout, especially among African-American Catholics.
Harper, who is black, told me stories of the long service Nallen, who died May 3, gave the people of St. Dorothy Parish as pastor from 1970 to 1993.
Rudy said, passionate as ever, that the priest was a great man who apparently didnt care if people were black, white or green, but cared equally and found the Jesus who lived in each. Chicago was still very racially polarized then. Sadly, in many ways, it still is.
Rudy, who grew up in St. Dorothys, wished more people had acknowledged Nallen for the great role model he was.
But the core here, of course, is that role models never exactly know what they leave in their wake. And the best role models are those who dont even realize what impact they have. For Rudy, Nallen was a great role model.
The core of this column, obviously, is to talk about the power of peoplelike Nallen and like so many othersto impact lives in ways beyond their imagining.
Role models can be parents (I hope Ive served well for the five children my wife and I have been blessed to raise), teachers, friends, even bosses.
This issue of The Catholic New World is replete with role modelsor people who should recognize their challenge to be one.
Nallen died 45 years after being ordained a priest. On Pages 22-23 are the stories of 14 men just beginning that journey, with ordination scheduled for May 24. I dont know whove been their role models to bring them this far, but I know theyll have the opportunityand challengeto leave their mark.
Also in this issue, we get to tell you a little about the top scholars produced by area Catholic high schools. Media can give a jaded perspective of todays young peoplethe future of our faith and our world. Read a little of who their role models are: parents, teachers and more. Youll feel better about tomorrow.
Finally, there is a truism that says children dont always recognize the impact their parents have had until much later in life. Cherish these next two stories, send to us by grown children to honor their parents.
Judith A. Hyatt of Naperville wanted to share the story of her parents, Bill and Vera Rowley, who marked 60 years of marriage May 22. And what a six decades its been. In 1953, Vera was stricken with polio. Despite an ominous diagnosis, Bill nursed her through months in an iron lung. Though Vera has been confined to a wheelchair ever since, the pair took on the challenges of raising a family, running businesses and being faithful members of St. John Fisher Parish.
Hyatt wanted to acknowledge their striving and struggling, especially now that Bill has begun to suffer from Alzheimers disease and Vera is becoming the caretaker.
They are incredible, Hyatt writes, and have received so much strength from the church and true-life examples of through sickness and health, till death do us part.
Also, Loretta Olechs daughter, Diane Price, wanted to acknowledge her for being honored after donating more than 22,000 hours of volunteer service over 38 years to Resurrection Medical Center. Shes still going strong. Thats no simple feat: Loretta is 80.
Role models? Take your pick. And never forget: you likely are one. Or can be one to somebody. Make it good.
Editor and General Manager
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