The Four Pillars of Stewardship: Service
Liberal resident brings Sunday Gospel, homily, to shut-ins
By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register
LIBERAL -- For Don Smith, helping the shut-ins of St. Anthony Parish begins with the press of a little red button.
The button is attached to a $65 digital audio recorder that Smith sets atop the pulpit prior to each Sunday’s Mass. It’s there that Father James Dieker, one of the deacons, or a visiting priest presses the little red “record” button before the Gospel reading.
That’s when Smith goes to work.
Using an audio editing program on his computer, the retired electronics technician edits the Gospel reading and homily into one fluid format, and then uploads the audio file onto the parish website and Facebook page. The file can then be accessed by anyone with an internet connection. In the case of elderly shut-ins, it may mean having a visiting friend or family member present the recording via their Smart Phone, I-Pad, Kindle, or a host of other devices. Either way, Smith is delivering a bit of virtual home-town Sunday-go-to-meetin’ to anyone who might otherwise go without.
On the Monday morning that the Register spoke to Smith, nearly 80 people had checked out the file online. In this case, it was a recording of Bishop John Brundgardt’s homily from the Mass he celebrated at the Liberal parish the previous day. While Smith’s purpose in recording the Gospel and homily is to serve shut-ins, he’s found that they’re not the only ones who listen in.
“A couple of ladies told me that they like to listen to it on Monday,” Smith said. “They’re teachers and listen to it for a pick-me-up.”
Smith began uploading the audio files to the parish website some two years ago. But his efforts began nearly a decade before in what was then still a fairly young industry, upon construction of the new St. Anthony church. “When we had the ground-breaking and grated the parking lot to begin construction, I started taking pictures and putting them on a webpage I created to let people see what was going on,” he explained.
“As time went on, [Redemptorist] Fathers Patrick [Keyes], Tony [Judge], Mike [McAndrews], and John [Fahey-Guerra] asked if I could put this on and that on the website, and it just kind of evolved. I have links from stuff all over -- anything that’s Catholic.”
Prior to his retirement, Smith worked for Brier and Hale Music, Co. in Liberal, through which he began working on and repairing church organs in 1972.
Smith, who is in his early 70s, serves as financial secretary for the Knights of Columbus, is the parish RCIA (English) director, is a Eucharistic Minister, and with his wife, Frances, serves in several other parish capacities. The couple has nine grown children spread across the globe. The youngest is named Eugene, after Bishop Eugene J. Gerber, third bishop of Dodge City, who was a close friend of the couple. They met him while serving on the bishop’s pastoral council.
As if his service to the parish weren’t enough, Smith is soon to head off to college. He and pastoral minister Matilda Scheurer will be attending classes to learn the fundamentals of web design – both to better his skills, and so that one day Matilda might take it over when Smith decides to step away. But he doesn’t expect that time to come anytime soon.
In the mean time, Smith encourages visitors to the website -- www.stanthonyliberalks.com -- to offer suggestions on how the site could be improved. Click on the webmaster icon at the bottom of the page to send an email to Smith. From the website, visitors can link to the parish Facebook page and Youtube account.
Editor’s Note: If you’re unsure if your parish offers audio files, go to www.dcdiocese.org/parishes/parish-listing, click on your parish, and if available, a link to your parish website.