Sins of the Fathers > Sins of the Fathers > Monsignor Richard Hanneke

For as the body without the spirit is dead,
so faith without works is dead also

- James 2:26

Several years ago, the parish my ex-wife and kids live in began to rent the athletic fields of a parish that no longer has a school. When I started having problems and my wife threw me out of the house and then divorced me, I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands. As a result, I took the lead in improving and maintaining our athletic fields.

As the months and then years passed, and I continued to try to figure out what it was that I was fighting, it first became harder and harder for me to think. It then became more difficult to leave the house, much less interact with and then just be around people.

About the only productive thing I was able to do, especially during the Summer, was to go up to the fields and work by myself. It was during those days working on the fields that I came to know Monsignor Richard Hanneke, the priest in residence.

Monsignor Richard Hanneke

As I came to learn, Monsignor Hanneke wasn't just a regular parish priest. Instead, he was the Vicar for Priests for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, a position of some power and influence that is akin to an HR director for all the priests in the archdiocese.

Because Monsignor Hanneke seemed like a nice guy, I eventually told him my secret and my story.

I then asked him to help me.

I didn't know how the archdiocese was organized, but I did know that a Monsignor outranked a Deacon. As a result, I hoped that Monsignor Hanneke would help me go over the head of Deacon Phil Hengen. My hope was to alert someone higher-up in the Archdiocese of St. Louis about the problems I was having getting help through Deacon Hengen, including the differences between the Archdiocese's stated process and the process that was actually being followed.

However, while in our first meeting Monsignor Hanneke seemed sympathetic, in our second meeting his attitude was completely different. Instead of being warm, Monsignor Hanneke was attitude and demeanor were cold.

Icy cold.

Instead of addressing my concerns, Monsignor Hanneke simply referred me back to Deacon Phil Hengen.

A man he knew I didn't trust.

Over the next few months, I e-mailed Monsignor Hanneke to follow up and let him know that I was continuing to have the same problems. Rather than doing something to help me, all he did was say he would pray for me.

Strategy Not Screw-Up

The fact that Monsignor Hanneke wouldn't help me, and simply referred me back to Deacon Hengen — who I believed was part of the problem and told Monsignor Hanneke as much  — led me to believe that the problems I was having getting help were the result of a strategy not a bureaucratic screw-up, by the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

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