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Volunteer of the Month

volunteer(s) of the month


January 2020



Gladys Pineda
Assistant & Spanish Translator



Tom Repko & Rebecca Overly (4th & 5th Grade)


What is your relationship with OLPH? Family?

Tom - My family moved to Chattanooga in 1993 from California. I had attended several churches in the area looking for a permanent church to attend.  I was looking for a family oriented church with a good Catholic school and found OLPH. My eldest daughter, Bryanna, attended OLPH School from kindergarten through 8th grade.  

I was involved with the school volunteering on the School Committee for several years coordinating the replacement of the original playground equipment with the current equipment and creating the computer lab. I also volunteered in cleaning the church (my mother had cleaned our family church in Ohio and I continued the tradition even bringing Bryanna with me to help).   

I met my wife, Toni, while in the Young Adults Group along with meeting new people that became my group of friends in Chattanooga.  My wife and I attended OLPH over the years with my son, Greyson, and my other daughter, Gabriela, being born in Chattanooga.  Both were baptized at OLPH.

Rebecca - My family and I are Parishioners at OLPH.  My husband and I went through RCIA about 16-17 years ago.  Our daughter has been raised Catholic.  I graduated from Notre Dame High School, Class of 1978.

How and why did you become a Catechist?  How did you get started? How long is your tenure?

Tom - Greyson started attending PSR as a kindergartener and I would wait outside his classroom during the classes.  I noticed that the teacher needed assistance with the kids so I started helping out informally in the classroom as needed.  This moved to volunteering as a substitute teacher, being called on when needed. I was lucky to be able to watch PSR teachers in their classes during this time to learn how to teach since I have no formal training as a teacher.  When they had a need for PSR teachers, I volunteered to start teaching kindergarten class with Gabriela being in my class. I moved up to teaching 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades.  I really don’t know how long I have been a PSR teacher but it is around 10 years.

Rebecca - Having Fr. Jim gets on his knees at Mass its pretty powerful!  The first time I was a Catechist, my daughter was in the 6th grade and I and another adult taught 5th & 6th grade for 4 years.  Corinne Henderson was in charge, and a positive and cheerful leader.  A supporter and encourager!

What is the most important aspect of being a Catechist?

Tom - For me, the most important aspect of being a Catechist is to be willing to teach and share our religion to our children.  I tell my students that I want to them to understand what it means to be a Catholic and why we do things in church (following the traditions of the Church).  I want them to have a good foundation of our religion and beliefs as they grow into adulthood.

Rebecca - There are two - Patience & Enthusiasm.

How has this ministry role changed you?

Tom - I have learned so much more about our faith and I get excited to share things with the students.  I attended Catholic school when growing up but I don’t recall many details.  So reviewing the weekly teaching guides, and the on-line articles, I start to remember things and make sure that I pass this onto them. 

Rebecca - It has made me hunger to know more details and information on Bible stories - the nuts and bolts besides the basics.  It has made me rediscover the joy a child has in learning about his or her Catholic faith, and Bible stories. 

What would you say to someone who is considering a ministry role at OLPH?

Tom - When considering a ministry role, don’t feel that you have to be an expert in the chosen ministry.  Everyone has to start somewhere and there are usually helpful information/people around that can help you.  If not sure, start with just attending a meeting and observing the group to see if this is something that you would like to join and participate in.  A little help can go a long way in making a difference.

Rebecca - After a 2-year break, I started back after hearing Fr. Jim's request for Catechists.  Then, I met Patti Morrison and immediately liked here joyful spirit, strength and encouragement. 


Arline Christian & Stacey Evans (Kindgergarten & 1st Grade)


What is your relationship with OLPH? Family?

Arline - I converted at Easter 2015, at the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul.  My husband is a life long and devoted Catholic. However, when we married in 2013 he never pressured me to joining the CC.  In fact, he was a bit surprised when I told him I was attending RCIA (an amazing experience).  I grew up in The First Congregational Church and converted to Mormonism many years ago bu converted to another faith. 

Stacey -  My family and I are members of OLPH Church

How and why did you become a Catechist? How did you get started?  How long is your tenure?

Arline - I heard there was a need and asked the church what was involved.  I felt drawn to serve in this capacity.  I went through training one foot at a time, one week at a time.  I just got started but now can't imagine myself without it. 

Stacey -  My daughter started the PSR program this year and I found out they the Church was in need of help.  I volunteered to help.  This is my first year. 

What is the most important aspect of being a Catechist?

Arline - Loving Jesus Christ and a strong desire to share him and nurture his love in hungry little minds.  Loving the children and seeing them as he does... precious.

Stacey - The most important aspect is teaching the kids about God, Jesus, and the Catholic Church. Helping the kids grow in their faith. 

How has this ministry role changed you?

Arline - It's deepened my passion for the Gospel while stirring an excitement to help these children fall in love with Jesus and teach correct principles.  It has also made me more aware and diligent my need to grow deep and not just tall in spiritual matters. 

Stacey - This ministry role has helped me grow in my faith.  I find myself seeking out more than before to learn about the Bible, reading and church teachings.  It is in the fore front of my mind as we prepare lessons weekly. 

What would you say to someone who is considering a ministry role at OLPH?

Arline - It's an amazing way to make the OLPH Parish YOUR Parish. It helps me get out of my own way  and surrender my will and selfishness ans seek my Father's will in more selfless ways.  

Stacey - I have found great fulfillment in getting to know the students, see their smiling faces as they walk in, and the joy of sharing our faith together.


Gabriela Bowen (2nd & 3rd Grade)
Joy Cecil (1st Communion)


What is your relationship with OLPH? Family?

Gabriela - OLPH is our home church. We have called OLPH home for the last 9 years.  Fr. JIm baptized my children and his Sunday homilies have always touched me.  I enjoy our chorus, our pianist and the feeling I get as I enter the church.  I have always felt welcome, even when I just visit the church.  Friendly faces and smiles always welcome me and my family.

Joy - I am a "cradle" Catholic and began my journey at OLPH.  My Dad has been a member at OLPH since he was three years old.  My Mother "cradled" my brothers and I since our birth.

How and when did you become at Catechist?  How did you get started?  How long is your tenure?y 

Gabriela - I became a catechist this school year (2019).  I volunteered after reading in the weekly bulletin they were calling for help.  I felt compelled to raise my hand and help children learn about our faith.  

Joy - I felt disconnected from the church.  I came to Mass every Sunday, but felt I wasn't really connected to what was going on here.  I wanted to be more involved.  I started almost 3 years ago and I love it.  I plan on staying as long as I'm needed or time allows.

What is the most important aspect of being a Catechist?

Gabriela - I enjoy working with children, having the opportunity to share the beautiful teachings of our faith, sharing how Jesus call us to be our best self and lead by example. I enjoy the questions and trying to interpret the gospel in a child's perspective.  It's a lot of fun.  It is a great job as you build community and love for our church. 

Joy - I love teaching and helping kids learn about Jesus.  We focus on our much better they can develop their relationship with Jesus.  I think helping them know Christ is the most important aspect of being a Catechist. 

How has this ministry role changed you?

Gabriela - Being a catechist has raised my desire and need to learn more, be a better person, peel off my layers, give my sins to God and strive to be a better person.

Joy - It's connected me to more to the church that I love.  But it's also helped me to focus on what's really important - Jesus and helping others to know him.

What would say to someone who is considering a ministry role at OLPH?

Gabriela - My hesitation to volunteer was because I considered myself not good enough to be a lead of our Catholic faith.  However, after answering that deep desire to help, I realized I did not need to be perfect.  All I needed was to have the enthusiasm to give, learn and share. You never know all you have to give until you put yourself in the right situation.  Giving back to our community is an investment for a better future.  What we do is a service of love that helps better citizens that will lead our city and our country in a not so far future. 

Joy - If you are considering a ministry role, it's in your heart for s reason.  Get active!  It never hurts to get involved.  There is something for everyone here at OLPH>