Friday, January 15, 2016

Jobs I've Held

"Been There and Done That!"    

During the summer of early high school seminary, @1958-1960, I had a "job" at Vessels store in my home town of Rhodelia. It actually looked very much like this picture. I pumped gas, candled eggs, sliced balogna, stocked shelves, loaded animal feed bags into trucks, checked people out at the cash register, bagged their groceries and whatever else I was asked to do, except work in the post office. There must have been some government regulation against children post masters.

My mother had a large garden, from which she canned and froze vegetables. It took up most of our summer time. If I had to, I could feed myself if I had a plot of ground. My grandmother taught me to "garden' when I was a very small boy. She even gave me my own plot. She worked her plot while I worked mine. She also taught me how to churn butter.

My Dad bought a farm during my growing up years to go with his lumber business We had one cow for milking and lots of beef cattle who knew how to break out of their fences at the most inappropriate times - like when we were on our way to church. Yes, I know how to milk a cow! Who doesn't?

This is not me in the picture. We had chickens, but I don't think I ever smiled around chickens.

Related image
Pigs! We had pigs too! Pigs never give birth in good weather. They always wait till there is a blizzard or freezing rain and then create a crisis that must be dealt with in the middle of the night. I did get good at loading pigs into a truck because they are not that smart. I took great delight in seeing the backs of their heads on the way to market. I probably heard my "call" while feeding pigs. It went something like this. "God, surely there is something else you want me to do in life besides this!" "Ronnie, be a priest!"

My father founded Knott's Supply before I went to the seminary, so I spent a lot of time loading and unloading concrete blocks, dry wall, paint, lumber and all the other things you need to build a house, barn or other buildings. Now they have forklifts. Back in my day, it was child labor. We loaded and unloaded everything by hand.

My brother, Mark, now owns the company. He has done a marvelous job of expanding it and making it grow. He is a self-made man in the truest sense of the word!
PARAMOUNT PICKLES (defunct): A Louisville favorite since 1886 (they were GOOD pickles), the company and its Fern Valley Road plant were bought by Dean Foods in 1995; the plant quickly shuttered and the brand was subsumed and spun off variously. Phyllis Diller's ads for the brand in the 70s are well remembered. I wrote a news piece about them and toured the plant; the air was acrid inside. I knew someone who had worked there and they claimed the bad pickles went into the relish bin. (KevinR@Ky): Bad Pickled, Ferns Valley, Pickled Defunct, News Pieces, Dean O'Gorman, Dean Food, Roads Plants, Funky Louisville Kentucky, Valley Roads
In the summer of 1965, I ran away from home. I got a job at Paramount Foods (Pickle Factory) in Louisville loading semi-trucks in the hot sun while breathing in forklift exhaust fumes to the point that I could not keep my eyes open by 10:00 am. I learned what a minimum wage job can buy and what it's like to "get by."

In the summer of 1966 , I worked at the now defunct St. Joseph Infirmary on Easter Parkway. I worked in the chapel, on the grounds, in the emergency room, medical library and front desk - everything but surgery!!!!
In the summer of 1967, I was a house painter in Wheaton, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. I even smoked back then. That's a Marlboro 100 in my right hand! Thank God I had the sense to stop

In the summer of 1968, I worked in Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Besides being a student minister in a United Church of Christ program called "A Christian Ministry in the National Parks," I was the night desk clerk. I also filled in as a garbage truck driver, bar tender and wine steward. My crowning achievement that summer was to be the Master of Ceremonies for the Miss Crater Lake Beauty Pageant. Some one gave me a 1951 Buick and dared me to drive it back to Kentucky. I had to get a push to get started on a 26000 mile trip. I made it home and it never started again. When you are young, you do things like that!
In 1969 I became a deacon and I was assigned to work at St. John Vianney Church on Southside Drive in Louisville. I also worked as a chaplain assistant at Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital.
Here is a bit of confidential information. Don't tell anyone. Since I was assigned there as a deacon, I was staying there when I was ordained a priest. After the ordination, I went back to the rectory and was stopped by a woman who wanted to go to confession. I heard my first confession in my first hour of priesthood. Since I did not know what to do with myself after ordination, (my class mates were tied up and my family was obsessing about the reception the next day) I went to Churchill Downs which was very close and got there for the second race. Yes, I went to the track on my ordination day! If that woman hadn't held me up, I would not have missed the first race!

All this has been followed by 45 years of priesthood!

I could not be happier with my decision to leave the pigs, the planks, the paint and the pickles for the altar!

Associate Pastor
St. Mildred Church
Somerset, Kentucky

Student Commons Building

Part Time Campus Minister
Somerset Community College

St. Peter (Monticello, KY)

Good Shepherd (Whitley City, KY)

St. Peter Church - Monticello, Kentucky
Good Shepherd Chapel - Whitley City, Kentucky 

Holy Name of Mary Church
Calvary, Kentucky

Cathedral of the Assumption
During my years at the Cathedral, I conducted over seventy parish missions in Kentucky, Indiana and Florida. 

Vocation Director
Archdiocese of Louisville

Director of Catholic Worship 
Bellarmine University
1999 - 2016

I have been a columnist for The Record for over thirteen years.

In the last fifteen years I have published twelve books for clergy 
and three for use in my ministry at Bellarmine University. 

2015 Stoking the Fire group photo

One our our popular mini-sabbatical programs. 
Director of the Saint Meinrad School of Theology
Institute for Priests and Presbyterates

In my years at Saint Meinrad, besides my work at the seminary, I conducted over 100 priest retreats, priest convocations, priest study days in seven countries and seminarian study weeks or major addresses in five seminaries in two countries.
In retirement I am volunteering in the foreign missions in the island country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines not far from South America. I am continuing to write my weekly column in The Record, as well as continuing to be involved in campus ministry at Bellarmine University, leading priest retreats and conducting parish missions.  Many might call all this a full-time job. I call it "cutting back."