The more than 85 people attending an 8 a.m. Mass at St. Clement Parish in Des Peres on a Saturday represented a mix of ages.
Some appeared to be of retirement age or middle age — the usual suspects at an early morning weekday Mass. But also included were children with their parents.
After Mass, 35 or so children and the parents moved up front, clutching rosaries. Parish volunteer Jean Fluri greeted them with enthusiasm, explaining that on this “so beautiful” day they’d be praying the Rosary for the Blessed Mother, all those sick and suffering and “for our beautiful vocations” — men and women from the parish already professed or ordained, those in formation and those Jesus is calling to consider a vocation.
The children took turns coming up in groups to the lectern to lead the various decades of the Rosary. Afterward, the parish pastor, Msgr. Michael Butler, asked them to pray for and give thanks for priests and religious and reminded the children to ask if God is calling them to a vocation.
Anna-Marie Hoechst, age 14, said even though she has to wake up early, coming to the Children’s Rosary “makes my day. It helps me grow in my faith.”
Her sister, Michelle Hoechst, said Fluri’s enthusiasm sets a good example. “I can see the joy on her face whenever the children pray,” she said. “And she’s very welcoming. When she sees someone new, she invites them.”
The Rosary recitation, in its 20th year, is just one example of the vibrancy of the parish and its dedication to promoting vocations. St. Clement Parish hands out vocation prayer cards with the photos of 21 priests, religious, permanent deacons and men and women in formation, all with ties to the parish. On the other side of the card are Serra Club prayers for vocations. The parish builds a culture of vocations through prayer, conversation and especially adoration. St. Clement each year has more than 6,000 hours with at least one person praying in the chapel. A vocation chalice program involves families in praying for vocations.
“I truly believe there is a connection,” between adoration and vocations, Msgr. Butler said, noting that St. Clement has offered adoration for 30 years.
St. Clement parishioners are well represented in the Serra Club, which prays for and provides financial support for those discerning or entering religious life, especially seminarians. The Knights of Columbus council at the parish also supports seminarians financially.
Matt Eversgerd stayed after the Saturday morning Mass with his three children. He called the devotion with the children “a great blessing for our parish.”
Another parent, Dan Reardon, said “we have so many great families. They’re focused on their families and trying to do the right thing and be good people. You feel blessed to be around them. It makes it fun and rewarding to be here because you know that people have their hearts in the right places.”
He cited other efforts he’s involved in at St. Clement, including the core group of That Man Is You, a program for men to help them understand their role. He came to the parish at 5:45 a.m. to set up for that program, brought his children to the Rosary, returned late afternoon for a youth basketball game and then attended 5 p.m Mass. “You just can’t help going home smiling and having a good day,” he said of the activities.
Adina Tracy, whose husband also attended the That Man Is You event, noted that her family moved to St. Clement eight years ago and felt welcome right away. “People invited us to sign up for different groups and ministries. The ACTS retreat is encouraged and really helps you to get to know a lot of people in the parish. There’s always something going on to get involved in,” Tracy said.
She enjoys the opportunities for spiritual development with others in the parish. She cited the women’s Bible study in a home, a study offered at the parish for people to do consecration to Mary. “That’s one of the things I like about this parish. People are always striving to grow in their faith and then share that with others. I’m so grateful that God brought us here.”
St. Clement Parish Highlights
• 42 ministries, from adult faith formation to youth ministry
• Newly registered parishioners receive a welcome packet and a visit and basket from the Welcome Committee
• A welcome Mass and reception is held semi-annually, and new parishioners’ photos are place on the bulletin board in the vestibule
• Door-to-door evangelization that visits with residents, inviting them to Mass and asking them for prayer intentions.
• Wonder Workers, a service ministry for parish youth that focuses on living out the Corporal Works of Mercy
• Teams with St. Elizabeth Mother of John the Baptist Parish in St. Louis on the Friends for the Poor Walk, education efforts and on ACTS retreats.
• Society of St. Vincent de Paul assistance to about 400 people yearly.
Dominican Father Patrick Hyde, ordained in 2016, now serves as associate pastor and in campus ministry at St. Paul Catholic Center at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. He attended St. Clement school kindergarten through sixth grade.
He said he never thought about priesthood during his time there. But shortly after he left the school, a group of parishioners, his father among them, began the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel under Msgr. James Pieper’s leadership.
“It was this witness of generosity and faithfulness of my father that really started something in me,” Father Hyde said. “Here he was a man with six children all in high school and middle school getting up at 3:30 a.m. once a week to pray. It didn’t make sense to me as a teen, but it sure inspired me.”
The consistent witness of so many people at St. Clement to prayer and, especially for praying for vocations kept making an impression on him. Added was the array of young priests who served as associate pastor with Msgr. Pieper, “and there was just this culture of generosity of self for the good of the Church,” Father Hyde said.
Then as he entered college, he started to recognize the “generosity of response to Our Lord among my peers.”
Fathers Eric Olsen and Charlie Samson and Frater Peregrine Fletcher entered the seminary. Dominican Sister Maria Gianna Klein and her brother, Father John Klein, LC, entered religious life. “It was a tidal wave,” Father Hyde said. “I didn’t know any of them well, but, somehow, it made it easier for me.”
Since he entered the Dominicans, it seems as if vocation promotion has gone into overdrive with the work of the Serra Club in the parish and the transition of leadership to Msgr. Butler, who was vocation director for 14 years, Father Hyde noted. “They are always promoting vocations and inviting us back to pray and to witness. It’s a privilege to know I have the prayerful support of so many at home even though I live and minister so far away.”
Vocations associated with St. Clement of Rome Parish:
• Father David Daly, Legionaries of Christ in Atlanta;
• Seminarian Cruz Gallego, Kansas City, Kan., Kenrick-Glennon;
• Father Joseph Geders, CM, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul in Perryville and four missions;
• Seminarian Patrick Hannegan, Pontifical North American College in Rome;
• Father Patrick Hyde, OP, associate pastor and campus minister, St. Paul at Indiana University;
• Sister Chiara Madonna Judd, Sisters of Life, NY;
• Father John Klein, Legionaries of Christ in Atlanta;
• Sister Mary Gianna Klein, Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia, Elgin Scotland;
• Seminarian Matthew Kline, Kansas City-St. Joseph, Kenrick Glennon;
• Sister Maria Josefa Kreinkamp, Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus;
• Seminarian Joseph Martin, Kenrick-Glennon;
• Father Eric Olsen, parochial administrator of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Ferguson and Holy Trinity in St. Ann;
• Frater Peregrine (Patrick Fletcher) Norbertines of St. Michael’s Abbey;
• Michael Quinian, diaconate formation;
• Father Charles Samson, professor of sacred Scripture, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary;
• Transitional Deacon Gerorge Staley, Kenrick-Glennon;
• Deacon Rich Vehige, St. Clement;
• Seminarian Jonathan Struckhoff, Kenrick-Glennon;
• Msgr. Jack Costello, pastor of St. Peter Kirkwood;
• Msgr. Michael Butler, pastor of St. Clement Parish;
• Msgr. Timothy Cronin, senior associate pastor of St. Clement Parish.
Msgr. Cronin and Father Butler serve at St. Clement. The two seminarians from Kenrick-Glennon serve at the parish on weekends. The other priests and religious and seminarians are natives of St. Clement.