For as the body
without the spirit is dead,
so faith without works is dead
- James 2:26
Several years ago, the parish my ex-wife and kids live in
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
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
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
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.