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Catholic Man Of The Year Award (St. Louis)

2024 Catholic Man of the Year Award Dinner

The Catholic Man of the Year 2024 was held for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, MO, on June 9, 2024.

Congratulations to our two winners!

Michael Heck

The brief summary of Michael’s service could not begin to describe the many ways he so generously uses his faith and leadership skills for his Church and Community. In addition to his work as chair of the Annual Catholic Appeal and its many aspects, Michael serves as advisor to the Legatus Chapter, the Western Province of the Vincentians and the Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri, to name a few. Although his service has been acknowledged through National and International awards of recognition, Michael can still be found praying in front of Planned Parenthood locations, advising and supporting the FOCUS Missionaries, initiating and helping the elderly and needy in his parish with home repairs and yard work, serving meals to the homeless and Rosary leader for the staff and clients at the St. Patrick Center Chapel. When asked to support those in need, Michael and his wife, Phyllis are known as “sacrificial givers” since they automatically give up certain things to make their gift possible. Living the faith with their children and grandchildren, they built a simple grotto and put up stations of the cross in their backyard where the children play and all can be inspired. Formed by a strong family of faith in a foundation of consistent prayer and service, Michael recalls the words of his father, on an occasion when he complained about something, always saying, “Quit your whining and think about somebody else!” An advice which still forms him today.

Robert Nuelle (Rest in Peace)

Through his many activities and presence in his Parish, Bob has become well known because of his continuing service to his Church and community, even at 96 years of age. Having a background of playing baseball in the minor leagues with Hall-of-Famer, Ted Williams, influenced his great desire to help children in sports. This led him to volunteer running many of the sports activities for St. Mary’s Special School for Children where he made it possible for them to learn about different sports and even play in the Special Olympics. He has been a volunteer for Friends of Kids with Cancer and has Co-Chaired a fundraising golf tournament for them for the past 21 years, contributing over 4 million dollars for their mission. Bob provides a calming influence to those in need as noted in his work at his parish sponsored St. Nicholas Food Pantry down in the city. He has also been a Knight of Columbus for over 30 years and meets regularly with a Lectio Divina group after the 6:30 am Mass in addition to participating with the Men’s Awakening Video series group at 6 am on Saturdays. A loving husband with great kids, his faith-filled life was one always concerned about others. When nominated to participate in this Catholic Man of the Year event, Bob accepted the task of completing the paperwork involved. Two days after submitting it he suddenly passed away. So, we pray, “Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let Your perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. We extend our sincerest sympathy to his wife, Peggy, his sons, Robert and Mark, and his entire family. We are most grateful to have the wonderful example of Bob’s life of faith and service for our inspiration.

The 2025 Catholic Man of the Year Award Dinner will be held on TBD. Nominations will be available TBD.

Previous Nominees and Winners

The Catholic Man of the Year 2023 award dinner was held on March 19, 2023.

2023 Catholic Man of Year Nominees Group Picture

 

Nominee List (click to view)

2023 Nominee List:

Art Batson of St. Angela Merici Parish, William Bledsoe of Sts. Joachim & Ann Parish, Dr. Michael Brown of St. Gianna Parish, Daniel Dodge of Immaculate Conception of Dardenne Parish, Brian Fox of St. Joseph Cottleville Parish, John Hedrick of St. Gerard Majella Parish, Bryan Hewing of Incarnate Word Parish, John Kaeshoefer of All Saints Parish, Gene Kalhorn of St. Anselm Parish, Adam Neff of St. Mary of Victories Chapel, Kenneth Ray Patterson of St. Vincent dePaul Society & Most Holy Trinity Parish, Brian Ragen of Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, Mark Serafino of St. Francis de Sales Oratory, Daniel Vonder Haar of Ascension Parish, Chesterfield, and Robert Vornberg of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. Congratulations and thank you all!!

 

The Winners:

Brian Ragen

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

Spending several hours per week helping homebound veterans and their caregivers, Brian also serves as a driver for the Order of Malta Mobile Ministries.  He provides transportation for Criminal Justice Ministries, St. Patrick Center, St. Vincent DePaul Food Bank, and other charities helping to feed the hungry and provide shelter for the homeless.  As a member of the Orders of Malta, St. John, and Holy Sepulcher he participates in their spiritual and charitable missions. Brian serves on many committees for these organizations and currently produces a newsletter for one of them. He is also a member of his parish choir and serves as Lector and Eucharistic Minister.

From his position on the communications committee of the A C A, Brian serves to improve the documents that present a public message from the Archdiocese, and visits parishes and organizations who receive support from the ACA.  Brian also serves on the Board of the Cathedral Basilica trying to further its mission of the faith especially supporting its music program by making it possible for the parish to restore their organ as well as the one used in the Seminary.  An active supporter of the Seminary, 200 volumes of its choice from the Library of America, have been donated to enhance educational opportunities for seminarians. Also, due to his knowledge and love of Scripture Brian provided to his parish the famous hand copied and illustrated “Heritage Edition of the St. John’s Bible”, which is a must see for all Catholics.

In the community, Brian serves on many boards and is a consultant for many organizations. He publishes books, articles and reviews of manuscripts for journals and publishers. Much of that work explores the publications of Catholic authors or deals directly with the form of literature the church uses from week to week, such as the poems it sings as hymns.

Given his experience as an author, editor and teacher, Brian observes that the most important way to pass on the faith is by teaching doctrine, not feelings. He is inspired to teach young people the beauty of our faith, its doctrine, Scripture, the catechism and many beautiful traditional hymns. In conclusion, Brian is convinced that Christian Catholic doctrine is a subject which must be taught and lived.

Thank you! And Congratulations, Brian!

Adam Neff

St. Mary of Victories Chapel

Even as a college student, Adam served. He was a lay retreat director for numerous faith-based retreats, presented testimonies and led small discussion groups.  In addition, he participated in choir and music for Mass, led an Ignatian prayer group and was the Service and Justice coordinator.  Adam understood that Catholic Education is most important to his service for the Church.

Motivated to imitate Christ’s love for humanity through his multiple services for people in need, Adam understood the importance of serving others.  Consistently demonstrating an interest in youth and elderly populations he volunteers at St. Agnes Home where he spends time in recreation with the elderly, at the Good Samaritan Ministries where he helps students living in poverty with homework and recreation activities, and at camp EDI Adam serves as a counselor for children living with Type 1 Diabetes.  He also teaches children with special needs about the faith and takes time to meet with young adults who are interested in the faith and serves at Bethlehem Farm with home repairs for those in need and assists with efforts for sustainable farming and living.

At his parish, Adam regularly serves Mass and assists with special events targeted toward evangelization such as the planning committee for the annual Rosary Run, the parish picnic, and the Parish Council.  Adam provides tours to visitors at his historic parish, St. Mary of Victories Chapel, always turning the time into a moment of catechesis and evangelization by using the beauty of the Chapel as a springboard to talk about our faith, which has resulted in significant conversions. All are invited and welcome to visit.

A devoted husband and father of 3 Adam is convinced that the most important way to pass on the faith is to live as a joyful witness, always focusing on our redemption and salvation through Jesus Christ, adhering to the traditions of the Church and letting her beauty and liturgy live through us in all we say and do.

Thank you! And Congratulations, Adam!

The Catholic Man of the Year 2022 award dinner was held on June 26, 2022.

2022 Catholic Man of Year Nominees Group Picture

 

Nominee List (click to view)

2022 Nominee List:

David Buehrle of All Saints Parish (St. Peters), David Diehl of Sts. Joachim & Ann Parish, Johnny Fleming of St. Nicholas Parish, James E. Hooper, Jr. of St. Mary of Victories Chapel, John Kainady of St. Gianna Parish, Thomas Karaianis of Sts. Joachim & Ann Parish, Larry Kendrick of Incarnate Word Parish (Chesterfield), ACTS Core, Nicholas Malawey of Alliance of the Two Hearts/All Souls Parish, Kenneth McKinney of St. Norbert Parish, Deacon Dave Osmack of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish, Greg Pinz of Immaculate Conception Parish (Dardenne), John Patrick Ryan of St. Bridget of Kildare Parish, David Snively of Incarnate Word Parish (Chesterfield), Dr. William C. Uhland of Incarnate Word Parish (Chesterfield), Disabled Ministry, Brian W. Westbrook of St. Francis de Sales Oratory, & Joseph A. Willis of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish (New Melle).  Congratulations and thank you all!!

 

The Winner:

David Buehrle

All Saints Parish (St. Peters)

David Buehrle and his wife, Tammy are blessed with five children and seven grandchildren. He has worked as a policeman and criminal investigator for the state of Missouri for many years.

David was adopted from Catholic charities, and learned the value of Catholic life from his youth. He describes one such occasion: “The greatest example I have was seeing my dad clinging on to his Catholic faith during the several years of his mom’s suffering and ultimate death. He never seemed to waiver. The Catholic Church was his anchor and through this example became mine.”

A major challenge came; after being married in the Catholic Church, his wife left him and their one- and two-year-old children. He came to realize then that only God and His Church could get him through these difficult times. One step was to apply for an annulment.

Dave met Tammy, a Southern Baptist at the time, who after their marriage taught him the real gift of forgiveness, by imploring him to forgive and invite his ex-wife and her boyfriend to attend Mass with him and family. This is when the Our Father prayer took on a new meaning. A conversion of heart began.

Dave’s most memorable event was when he was able to take communion to his dad while sick. The last words he spoke were those when he received the Eucharist, “Lord I am not worthy…” He died the next day.

Not only was Dave now a practicing Catholic, but he was also being called to become active in ministry. Dave serves his parish in many ways besides being a member of ACTS and RCIA and soon to be Grand Knight of council 1587. He is also a Captain to the annual family White House Retreat.

Along with all his volunteer hours to Almighty God and His Church he finds himself ministering to those he encounters as a policeman.

This developed even more once he served with the St. Vincent DePaul Society and participated in Christ Renews His Parish. “St. Vincent DePaul allowed me to build relationships within the community, which were different than my role as a police officer, especially when meeting people experiencing hard and difficult times which began overlapping with my duties as a police officer.

One example Dave recalls is the runaway Juvenile whose father was dying and mom suffering from drug addiction. Instead of taking the young man into custody, Dave brought him to his home. He talked with this young man’s family and reintroduced them to the Church of their baptism. The young Man’s father, before dying from brain cancer returned to the Sacraments. Dave visited the widow and her son over the next two years and they too returned to the Catholic Church. Dave was invited to speak at both parents’ funerals and that young man is grown up now and has children of his own. He says “our relationship and more importantly his relationship with God literally saved his life”. Dave is truly a Catholic, living the message of Christ both personally and professionally. Why does Dave volunteer for God, he says “I believe it is why I was born, I find myself being served rather than serving. And I thank God for my mission to bring Him to the world.”

His wife Tammy became Catholic four years ago now and serves alongside Dave. Their children and grandchildren keep them motivated.

The key to Dave’s success is to witness forgiveness first hand, to love and to console first hand, to pray and worship first hand, and to continue to persevere towards the ultimate prize, to be in full union with our Lord for eternity.

Congratulations, Dave and thank you for keeping us safe as a policeman and teaching us to live the mission of Christ!

The Catholic Man of the Year 2021 award dinner was held on June 13, 2021.

2021 Catholic Man of Year Nominees Group Picture

 

Nominee List (click to view)

2021 Nominee List:

Robert Ahrens of St. Raphael Parish, Timothy W. Gamma of Incarnate Word Parish (Chesterfield), Bob Hennekes of Ascension Parish (O’Fallon), Carlos Garcia Herrejon of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Russ Isaak of Ascension Parish (Chesterfield), David Keys of Ascension Parish (Chesterfield), Nick Osterholt, Jr. of All Saints (St. Peters), Joseph Peebles of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Bill Schneider of St. Joseph Parish (Cottleville), John Schulte of Immaculate Conception Parish (Dardenne Prairie), Brian K. Weingart of Our Lady of Victories Chapel, & Charles E. Wiswall of St. Martin de Porres.  Congratulations and thank you all!!

 

The Winner:

Dr. David Keys

Ascension Parish (Chesterfield)

While working full time, as a husband and father, raising seven children, and coaching sports, David entered a graduate program at Steubenville to obtain a Master’s degree in Theology. This process took eleven years.

Then it was after a CRHP (Christ Renews His Parish) retreat that David, now known as Dr. Keys, came to realize the importance of sharing oneself and one’s faith with others. Until then, even with a strong religious family and educational background, his spiritual life was strictly internal. This was when David began to explain to others what he had learned about his faith. In a profound way, he represented the Church by tirelessly teaching souls the truths of our faith. Little did he know that as time went on, he would be heard through media, interviews, and presentations throughout the world.

A few of the topics David has been called upon to present are those concerning The Real Presence, The Shroud of Turin, Prayer, Conscience, Contraception, Catholic Identity, Evolution, and the Christian Morality for 8th Graders, to name a few. His experience as an 8th grade PSR teacher, managing and coaching soccer and basketball teams, as well as establishing and running a men’s basketball league all contributed to his ability to communicate with people on many levels. A regular volunteer at the St. Nicholas food pantry, he is also a member of his parish Liturgy and Faith commissions and host of the 6:30 AM Saturday morning Men’s Awakening Group.

In recent years, David has become a Catholic author of two books about “The Real Presence” and “Reality vs. Partial Truths”. As to passing on the faith, David is convinced that parents must make faith the rule of their life. Faith cannot be just a Sunday thing. Extended family should also demonstrate that faith is for the living, not just a name for what you are. Learning is useless unless there is a change in your heart.

Congratulations, Dr. Keys!

The Catholic Man of the Year 2020 award dinner was held on September 20, 2020.

2020 Catholic Man of Year Nominees Collage

 

Nominee List (click to view)

2020 Nominee List:

George T. Bidleman Jr. of St. Angela Merici Parish, Marty Bligh of Society of St. Vincent De Paul, James S. Cole of St. Mary of Victories Chapel, John Michael Conoyer of St. Cletus Parish, Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, Larry Cramberg of Ascension Parish (Chesterfield), David Friederichs of St. Joseph Parish (Cottleville), Raymond C. Gerard of Assumption Parish (O’Fallon), G. Jeff Grotegeers of Incarnate Word Parish, Knights of Columbus, Lou Holtmann of St. Catherine Laboure Parish, Knights of Columbus Council 12323, Ronald Huelsmann of Christ Prince of Peace Parish, sponsored by the Annual Catholic Appeal, Thomas Lawrence of St. Alban Roe Parish, Douglas Munsell of St. Paul Parish (Fenton), Jon Nienas of Holy Infant Parish, Joseph P. Racher Jr. of Our Lady of the Presentation Parish, Cub Scout Pack 1643, Brad Rigdon of All Saints Parish (St. Peters), Larry Skaggs of St. Martin of Tours Parish, John Smerek of Immaculate Conception Parish (Dardenne Prairie), Gary Whitlock of Catholic Renewal Center, & Bob Zeik of St. Joseph Parish (Cottleville).  Congratulations and thank you all!!

 

The Winner:

Brad Rigdon

All Saints Parish (St. Peters)

As a child with a father’s trust in him to work things out and a mother’s insistence that he should leave things better than he found them, Brad grew to develop a strong foundation of faith. When the years following Vatican 2 focused on the role of the laity and the universal call to holiness, Brad and his wife, Jan accepted the call to focus on serving others.  Two of seven people, they initiated the World Wide Marriage Encounter movement in the United States which has been growing for nearly 45 years. Accepting the call even further, Brad and Jan participated in the regional leadership of the Christian Family Movement, along with offering multiple services for the Universal Church. Brad was appointed by 3 Popes to the Pontifical Council of the Church. He served in this and many other ministries such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Laity Committee.  Brad has also served in leadership positions within several Dioceses throughout our country and the world, dealing with finances, budgeting, Education, youth ministry and planning, to name a few.  Recognized for his contributions to our Archdiocese he received the highest volunteer award for his service, the Order of St. Louis King. Even after retiring from a professional career at McDonnell Douglas as Senior Vice-President, Brad continues to share his talents and faith with his Parish in countless ways. One example of his service is when he and Jan presented a process of developing a “life book” about all the things children or others should know upon their deaths. Then, in response to all he has done, Brad simply states: “It’s hard to say I “volunteer” for God.  It’s more about my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Thank you, Brad! And Congratulations!

The Catholic Man of the Year 2019 award dinner was held on May 5, 2019.

2019 Catholic Man of Year Nominees Group Picture

 

Nominee List (click to view)

2019 Nominee List:

Rich Chrismer of St. Joseph Parish (Cottleville), sponsored by Nettie Weber, Michael Joseph Day of All Saints Parish, St. Peters, Michael Ellermann of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Dominic J. Grana of Our Lady of Sorrows, Thomas G. Heeger of St. Gerard Majella, sponsored by Annual Catholic Appeal, Deacon John Heithaus of Sacred Heart, Florissant, sponsored by Missouri Right to Life, Don Holdener of St. Angela Merici, sponsored by Don Krause, Deacon Jorge Perez of St. Charles Borromeo, Daniel Schwartz of St. Patrick, sponsored by St. Louis Marian Conference, Jason Walter of St. Mary of Victories, Deacon Lonnie G. Weishaar of St. Patrick, sponsored by St. Louis Marian Conference, & Joseph Wooldridge of Sts. Joachim and Ann, sponsored by That Man is You. 
Congratulations and thank you all!!

 

The Winner:

Rich Chrismer

Sponsored by Nettie Weber

During a childhood time of family crisis because of his Mother’s cancer, Rich and his siblings spent some time at St. Vincent home for children.  When his Mother recovered, her children returned home to be raised in a most religious environment. Besides attending Catholic Schools, they prayed a family rosary after supper each day, consistently helping the children develop exceptional moral values. Rich became involved in Scouts which promoted manliness with strong faith and its practice. He then served three tours of duty in Viet Nam…2 voluntarily, as a Special Forces member.  Married for almost 50 years now, Rich and his wife, Mary have been blessed with four children.  Two of his children are serving the Church in Religious vocations, Father Chrismer, as a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and one of the girls as a Sister of St. Dominic.  Rich credits his wife of almost 50 years, with helping him to grow in motivation and inspiration.  Although retired as Director of Elections for St. Charles County, Rich is well known in the Metro area as a strong voice for the pro-life cause. Due to his convictions for the unborn, Rich was arrested over 80 times and jailed, for protesting at Abortion Mills trying to save babies from being killed. This is a true St. Joseph model of virtue and courage.

Rich currently serves as a member of several organizations such as; Vitae Caring Foundation, K of C, Veteran of Foreign Wars National Home for Children, Fishers of Men,  Serra Club, St. Jude Home for Children, 40 Days for Life, Catholic Men for Christ, and Cooking for Kids.  His past services include work as St. Vincent Home for Children Board of Directors, MO Citizens for life Board, St. Vincent DePaul Society State Representative where he defended home school parents against legislation framed to harm them, introduced the first Home School Protection Act and also wrote legislation prohibiting partial birth abortion leading the fight to over-ride the Governor’s veto successfully.  Our 2019 St. Joseph Man of the Year is Rich Chrismer!

Thank you, Rich for your presence and generous gifts of service to our Church and community.

The Catholic Man of the Year 2018 award dinner was held on May 6, 2018.

2018 Catholic Man of Year Nominees Group Picture

 

Nominee List (click to view)

2018 Nominee List:

Name, of parish, 
Congratulations and thank you all!!

 

The Winner:

Michael Lamb

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish (St. Charles)

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