Francis and I moved to Brenham in two phases. I rented an apartment in September 2003 when I was transferred to the Brenham printing plant with my job. Francis stayed in Clear Lake working and getting our house ready to sell. We found a 50 year old, all wood house in town and did a complete renovation from the studs out – we called it our see through house for a while. The move was complete in July 2005. We have not missed the Houston traffic at all. Our kids and grandkids all live around the Clear Lake area, so we get a taste of traffic when we travel to see them. We are always glad to get back to Brenham.
When we first came up to Brenham to scout housing, the Church was one of our first stops. It reminded me of my Grandparents church in Wallis, which I love. It is all wood, but has the statutes, columns, painted ceiling and a small choir loft. It reminded Francis of the church he grew up in until 10 years old in Elgin, Nebraska. He took me there several years ago and it is amazing how similar it is in architecture to St. Mary’s. It felt like home to him.
We joined Perpetual Adoration, and I taught CCE for many years. I was able to join the Altar Care group in December – ladies I still work with today. I did regret that working at the plant 40 hours a week prevented me from participating in other ministries at the time.
Fast forward to 2013 and like many other industries, mine was going through buy outs, merges and the gradual decay of our customer base with the increase in digital mailings, forms and businesses. My company was purchased in mid 2013 and in October announced that they were closing our printing plant. We had 47 hard working employees – many whom had been there 30 years or more. As the Office Manager it was hard to watch our orders move to other plants, along with seeing one department after another close down. We said goodbye to friends and associates every few weeks.
It was heart warming to see businesses in Brenham step forward and ask our employees to come work for them. To have our folks have a choice of where they went next to work. . . . to be wanted by someone. Every single person who wanted a job, found one. Some wanted retirement. And some wanted to take a break – and that included me. I realized I had worked non-stop since high school, including while going to college. I told my husband in March 2014 that when I had my final day at the plant, I was taking the rest of the year off, and I would start looking for a new job in January 2015. I had a great 9 months – helped my sister pack, move and unpack. Oversaw the demo of an old camp house at our family farm, plus the building of a new one. Who would know that working with a contractor would come in handy for my next job.
I had Thanksgiving and Christmas 2014 off for the first time EVER since high school. It was great! And so in January 2015 I started filling out applications. . . online. . . that was weird. Then I received a call from Michael Derkowski at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. He had my resume on file from when I had thought about changing jobs in 2010 or so. He was looking for a replacement for the book keeper who was retiring. It would be for 3 days a week. I came in to talk to him and the book keeper and started later that month.
In February Michael asked me if I wanted to add a day to my week . . make it 4 days a week. They needed someone to record sacramental records once a week. I said sure. . . I was looking for a second part time job, but not real hard J. So I learned about sacraments and the record books that go back to 1870. It was and still is so interesting.
Then in March Fr. Ernesto and Michael asked me if I would work 40 hours a week. There were secretarial duties that I could help get done. So I said sure – and now I was working full time again. But this time it was at a job that encouraged me to devote time to Ministry, to go to Mass during the week if I liked, to attend funerals and lend a hand where needed. It was once again a job where I enjoyed going to work, and making a difference and helping folks resolve issues and difficulties.
In April Fr. Ernesto and Michael asked me to take on the job of Office Manager. I’d be able to fold all my existing duties into the job, while taking on more functions that deal with the Diocese, the Vendors, the Funeral homes and all the Parishioners. I said sure. . . and my job just got better and better. I had been an Office Manager for many years at my prior job and I discovered the same thing all over again: I like being able to affect change and make a difference in how the Office runs. I like trouble shooting problems and concerns, and resolving issues for Parishioners. I like ministering to people.
In 2018 Fr. Ernesto and Michael asked me to add Projects Manager to my job duties. We had a lot of infrastructure repair and renovation going on, and I could assist Michael with the Maintenance side of the Parish. Keep track of vendors and job time lines, work with our rental families and businesses, and provide answers and options to on-going issues. I said sure. Another set of items to trouble shoot.
I love my job.
I’m very grateful to the Pastors, the Deacons and Michael for this opportunity to serve my Church and my community. I’m grateful that this job has allowed Francis and I to stay in Brenham and make our home in a place that fits us – we love being in the country. I’m grateful to the Parishioners that have allowed me to work with them and for them. I’m grateful for my Church.