Word for Word 9/19/18

Fr. Mark Osterhaus
Fr. Mark Osterhaus

On Wednesday, September 5th, John Derryberry, a social worker from Iowa City, returned to Waukon. This past April, John had come to Waukon to give a presentation at St. Patrick Church, offering ways to help those suffering from depression and the anger and frustration that can come with it. John told his own story, and the bitterness he felt in his teen years after he was brought low by the deaths of his father and his best friend. Over 300 people attended his talk in April, and our parish staff wanted to invite him back. Mandy O’Neill, our Youth Minister at St. Patrick Parish, arranged a partnership with Allamakee Community Schools. John spoke to all the students in the Middle and High Schools, including our 6th graders from St. Patrick School. He told stories of five students, all of whom had a profound and positive effect on his life today. He said that these kids were labeled “at-risk”, and most had a lot of trouble in their school settings. You might expect that John, as a social worker, would be the one to help THEM. One of his main messages to our students was that these relationships between adults and students can be mutually beneficial, if we just keep an open mind, and start with the premise that everyone has something good to offer those around them. John brought a smile to a few students’ faces as he put on a home made “Bumblebee” Transformer costume, which one his students inspired him to make. John told several good stories of how he was “taught” by young people who had come from troubled backgrounds. As we start the new school year, it is possible for us to have the attitude and to foster an environment in which we can learn from each other.

John gave a second talk in the evening at St. Patrick Church, during which he told stories of adults whose example continues to energize him today. These key figures in his life included his mother, a college friend and some professors. It made me ask myself: “Who are five key people in my life?” “Am I open to being ‘taught’ by those younger than me?”

Some who attended the evening presentation were students who had already attended his afternoon talk at Waukon High School. Students, parents and faculty members agreed that his message can help set a positive tone for the new school year. Thanks to all who sponsored John Derryberry’s return to Waukon, and to all who attended!

Fr. Mark Osterhaus
St. Patrick Catholic Church


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