Catechesis

Cheerful service – Greg brings Christ’s light through his volunteer vocation

Greg Weiss, of Durand, retired in 2018 after a career in heating and air conditioning, but retirement hasn’t stopped him from working hard for his Catholic Faith. He continues to toil happily at his parish Holy Rosary in Lima, with the Catholic organization Watermark Missionary and in his community.

Catholicism is at the root of Greg’s cheerful service. He credits two women for nurturing his Faith.

“My mother was the one who had the most impact on me. She was a very religious woman,” Greg says. “At first, I went to church to pacify Mom. I still can remember her saying, ‘You have to have something to believe in or you will fall for anything.’ The next woman in my life was my wife, Debbie. She came from a very devout Catholic family. She was the one who nurtured the Faith with our sons.”

Greg at Holy Rosary Church with the new Geo heating system installed in the fall of 2019.

Confronted with a roadblock of infertility, Greg and Debbie were blessed with a close and loving family after the adoption of their sons, David and Kyle. Their family kept expanding, first with with the addition of David’s wife Cherise and then, grandchildren, Dalton and Chloe.

Debbie at Pacific Junction, Iowa, standing in front of one of the homes worked on in the fall of 2019 and again in the spring of 2020.

Extended family for Greg and Debbie includes the people of Holy Rosary Parish. After Greg’s retirement, the death of a parishioner provided his first task to help his parish family.

“Our parish was fortunate to inherit a farm,” Greg says. “When the elderly farmer passed away, he donated his farm to our church. Our parish went out and cleaned up the place to get it ready for a fall auction of the older machinery and household contents. The farm buildings and 15 acres were sold to a young couple and the remaining acreage is owned by the parish.”
Next, in the summer of 2019, Greg used his experience and knowledge of heating and air conditioning to guide the parish to a new method of heating the church and school. In the early 1980s, the parish had installed wood boilers, stocked with wood by a group of parish men.

“Over the last 30-plus years, we spent our time cutting the wood and bringing it to the church, and getting it prepped to be burned,” Greg says.

The ages of the boilers and the men providing the wood were taken into consideration. As a long-time member of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, Greg was handed the project.

“The decision to go geothermal with backup gas boilers was made because we hope our church will be around for many years to come,” says Greg. “The school was setup to just install boilers due to the unknown longevity of the school.”

What I am good at is helping others with my talent of home rebuilding. What ability do you have to help someone?

Beyond the large special projects, Greg is very active in the parish in many different activities. He teaches ninth grade CCD and is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion at Mass and for the homebound, including his 92-year-old father.

Greg is active with the Knights of Columbus. “I have served as grand knight and now I am the financial secretary,” Greg says.

He spearheaded two fundraisers when he was grand knight that he continues working on: “Coats for Kids” and “Food for Families.”

The Knights of Columbus’ support for pro-life activities is also important to Greg and Debbie, with their adoption experience. Without the commitment of mothers to give birth, families cannot know the joy from the gift of adoption, which the Weiss’ experienced with their sons.

Volunteers from Pierre, S.D. and West Central, Wis. who worked at the Red Lake, Minn., reservation. There were two mission trips to Red Lake, one in the fall of 2018 and one in the spring of 2019.

Watermark Ministries has been an important part of Greg and Debbie’s life and ministry. They encourage others to consider being part of the Catholic organization, which is always looking for volunteers for mission trips. For more information on Watermark Ministries, visit watermark-mission.org or call 715.283.4451.

Greg and Debbie also work at the local food pantry during the week. This past year, Greg was asked to serve on the food pantry’s board of directors.

While much of his service work happens within the parish and community, Greg and Debbie’s involvement in Watermark Ministries takes them all over the United States. “We’ve been in 10 different states for 16 mission trips over the past 10 years,” Greg says.

Their involvement with the faith-based disaster recovery organization came about when leaders Gary and Rosie Asher saw Greg renovating his mother-in-law’s house. They asked if he was interested in doing the same work for people living in communities devastated by natural disasters.

Greg and Debbie decided to join the group and were inspired by the work and faith of the organization. “We went and tried the first trip at Waveland, Miss. We went for a week,” says Greg. “After that, we knew this was something we wanted to continue. We’ve been doing it ever since.”

Watermark Ministries is based out of St. Henry Parish in Eau Galle. The team has grown to around 50 members from three different states. In Oklahoma, a few years ago, the group was recognized as the best volunteer group of the year, according to Greg.

On each mission trip, members donate their time and vehicles and provide tools while homeowners have materials to complete construction and repair of their homes. Accommodations are simple. They stay in church basements, rectories, convents and even in a warehouse and hunting lodges.

“Gary and Rosie are very faith-oriented. We have a faith service every morning and most pray at night after a good day of work,” Greg says.

In the fall of 2019, Greg and Debbie traveled with Watermark Ministries to Junction City, Iowa, after a flood decimated the area, with water rising to eight feet deep. They returned in March with the group to help with more home repairs.

Using his skills to help others in their time of need is right up Greg’s alley. “It’s been near and dear to our hearts,” he says. “Our goal is to help make life easier for others who are less fortunate. We enjoy the camaraderie and our Faith is helping people who need help. With our expertise, we can make the situation be a lot more bearable.”

Sometimes the fruit of their labor is more than just helping create a livable environment for people. In South Dakota, Greg and Debbie worked in one house with an older couple for most of the week, sharing meals and talking about their Catholic Faith.

“They seldom went to church,” says Greg. “After working with us, they believed this is what the Catholic religion is all about and said they should consider joining the local parish.”

Sharing talents and gifts is an important part of Greg’s Faith practice. “It isn’t hard. It’s so easy to help people out,” he says. “You get a different perspective on life. You hope, by showing your Faith, people will look and say, ‘Wow.’”

He encourages Catholics to explore how and where they can help. “You can’t be afraid to show your Faith. You could be good at preaching–which I am not,” says Greg. “What I am good at is helping others with my talent of home rebuilding. What is in your heart? What ability do you have to help someone? We are the Catholic Church; we have to help people.”

Story by Mary Kay McPartlin
Published July/August 2020 Catholic Life Issue

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