He taught his sons, and many others, in 25 years

He taught his sons, and many others, in 25 years

 

Photo by James A. McBride

stewardship-webFather Dennis Bajkowski, left, pastor of Queen of the Apostles Parish, Pennsville, stands with Mike Messick, who has taught religious education at the parish for a quarter-century, and also been involved in other ministries.

PENNSVILLE — A remark made by his son, Kyle, set his father, Mike Messick, thinking about how he could broaden his stewardship and help Kyle at the same time.

“Kyle was only in the third grade,” Mike said, “but he commented that he didn’t think he was learning enough in religious education.”

The Messicks are parishioners at Queen of the Apostles, and religious education classes are held at Pennsville School.

“Now, the program is excellent,” Mike pointed out. “It was then and still is. Kyle personally just felt he wasn’t getting enough out of it.”

Mike went to the pastor and expressed interest in possibly teaching religious education, not because he thought he could do a better job but perhaps he could lend a different perspective to the course for those, like his son, who felt they wanted something else from the course.

He must’ve done something right because Mike has been teaching religious education at Queen of the Apostles for more than 25 years and has taught both his sons, Kyle and Mike Jr. Kyle went on to graduate from Penn State Medical School and today is an orthopedic surgeon.

“Mike lives in North Carolina and is the head of the engine department at Roush-Fenway Co.,” Mike said. “My son makes sure the engines going into NASCAR vehicles are in good working order.” In the recent Daytona 500 Mike Jr.’s engines were in 13 cars.

Mike has given of his time, talent, and treasure to Queen of the Apostles for 30 years, religious education just being one of many ministries that he and his wife Helen have been involved in.

“I try not to count all the years I’ve been involved in stewardship because then you start feeling old,” he quipped.

What really makes him feel appreciated and that he matters to people is when he’s recognized on the street or in a store by one of his former students or some one he had coached in Little League years earlier and they say thank you.

“That is a blessing and makes me happy,” Mike said.

Recently he and his wife walked into a local bank and one of the tellers called out his name, and they both smiled and chattered about old times. He had taught the woman in religious education classes 10 years earlier.

“My wife and I walk around town a lot during the warmer months,” Mike said. “We’ll pass a Babe Ruth field, for example, and somebody would call out my name when they recognize me. When this happens I feel I’ve really made an impact on someone.”

Mike was baptized in the Methodist Church in Salem and, over the years before he was married, he went to various other churches, but wasn’t fulfilled.

“I got an apartment in Pennsville,” he said, “then I got drafted. When I was separated from the military I went back and got married.”

He was married in 1967 in St. Mary Church in Salem and after buying a house in Pennsville he started going to Queen of the Apostles with Helen. “The Catholic Church just felt right to me,” he noted.

Then in May of 1980 he got all his church records from his mother and came through RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) at Queen of the Apostles, receiving his preparation from Father Paul Harte.

He retired in 2005 after 41 years with ICI Co. in Newcastle, Del. “They make the ingredients that go into other products,” he explained. Now that he was retired he could do even more for the church, Mike thought.

He offers rides to parishioners who might need a lift and even offers his mechanical skills to both parishioners and to the church.

“I’ve been working with a group every Thursday to do repairs,” Mike noted. “We’re finishing anchoring the pews down. Over the years they’ve become loose so we’re putting in stronger anchors. I also help doing odds and ends things around the church, including cleanup.”

Over the years stewardship for the Messicks has included decorating the church for Christmas and Easter.

“We also helped coordinate the altar servers when our boys were involved,” Mike explained, “and we’ve continued doing that over the years. Basically, whatever needs to be done, we’re there. My wife doesn’t get as involved as I do because she’s still working. She’s still making the money for the family,” he laughed.

Years ago Mike was also a Scoutmaster for a troop at the nearby Methodist Church and still works with the troop and handles the Pinewood Derby for them.

“A derby car is made up of a small block of wood with wheels and competes on a gravity track,” he explained. “The track is raised on one end and the cars roll down it. I recently coordinated 12 competitions, which included one county final. It was held in Valley Brook Elementary School.”

Father Dennis Bajkowski, pastor of Queen of the Apostles, said Mike is a spiritual and vital individual. He and his wife help as much as they can.

“His Thursday Men’s Group makes many repairs around the church,” said Father Dennis, “and we’re all grateful for their time and talent.”

He added that Mike Messick “is a good man and gives entirely of himself.”

For more information on stewardship contact Russell Davis, Office of Stewardship, at 856-583-6102.

 

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