Our home, our parish, flourishes as much as it does because of the many people who very quietly do all manner of activities, with big hearts and an attitude of genuine service. I am hard pressed to think of any couple who have done more, for as a long a time (at least within my assignment as pastor) as have Pam and Neil Kingsley.
When I arrive to vest for my weekday Masses at 7:30 am, Pam is already on our beautiful campus and has unlocked the church doors, greeted the weekday sacristans, made the day’s fresh coffee for the staff’s many caffeine devotees, and begun her work in the office. She works patiently and quietly for a very long day, carefully managing donations, accounts and bills. In this interval without a parish business manager I have shared some of those responsibilities with her, and been blessed by her willingness. People who enjoy her good company, her kindness and her very good will frequently stop by and spend time with her. She ends up staying long beyond eight hours because, she says, that she enjoys the interruptions, and wants them to continue, while also working a full day. She does at least that much.
Her husband, Neil, one of our parish deacons, works for the parish overseeing all the maintenance and grounds, managing almost twelve acres, with its gardens, parking lots and some $30 million dollars’ worth of buildings. I have learned that there is no such thing as “normal upkeep” for our parish plant. Predicting when plumbing is going to head south, or sound systems fail, is not a precise science. When a sprinkler fails in a spectacular way (always in the middle of the night, it seems) the local water company contacts Neil. When the security alarm sounds (because the absent-minded pastor forgets to turn it off before going into his office), Neil fields the call from the security company whether it’s a workday or not. At any given point, there is the work that Neil intended to do, along with the crises that spring up organically because there are gremlins in the air ducts. Neil’s job encompasses so many tasks that it causes me to wonder how he can hold it all together.
After everything else that Pam and Neil do, their truly special gift for us comes to the fore in their volunteer work with the environment. Has there ever been any parish more blessed with talent than Padre Serra? The freshness of their ideas, responding to guidance from the parish liturgy committee amazes me at the changing of each liturgical season. They go the extra mile taking the environment into each corner of the church, so that everyone can feel a part of it all. Their creativity ensures that each season will have both continuity with the past and something new and uplifting. They work flexibly with new circumstances as they arise. For example, the live-streamed Mass needed a clear view across the church, which means they couldn’t use the tall banner poles for the Easter season – and yet it was still spectacular. They combine this with a lovely ability to gather volunteers to work alongside them on the big projects, and to maintain the plant throughout the season. Everything attest to their goodness and generosity.