Offer it Up

This is my uncle. I am very proud of him and think you will find this article inspiring.

Al Ostergaard volunteers for parish despite disability

Starting the Holy Redeemer Thrift Shop gives him a chance to give back to God

– See more at: http://www.arkansas-catholic.org/news/article/4233/Al-Ostergaard-volunteers-for-parish-despite-disability#sthash.vhLxHWFt.tueeYqI8.dpuf

http://www.arkansas-catholic.org/news/article/4233/Al-Ostergaard-volunteers-for-parish-despite-disability

Why you want to know Allen “Al” Ostergaard: In spite of numerous health problems, Al continues to volunteer every day at the Holy Redeemer Thrift Shop that he started in the parish.

Parish: Holy Redeemer

City: El Dorado

Age: 70

Family: Wife Judi, five grown children and four grandchildren

IN HIS OWN WORDS

Arkansas Catholic’s theme this year is “Worth it.” What investments of time or money have you made to enrich your faith?

I am limited because I’ve got lots of disabilities and I am limited in what I can do, but I made a promise that as long as the Lord would allow me to get up every morning, I would dedicate my life to working for him and the Church.

How long have you been in Arkansas?

Since 1988. My wife’s mother and father are from El Dorado. Her daddy passed away in 1988 and we moved here to take care of her mother. I’ve been retired since 1977 because of a medical disability.

Did you always attend church as a family?

(When we lived) in North Carolina and Moorhead, Minn., Judi wasn’t Catholic yet, her children weren’t, and they started going to church with me. I liked that. Once we got here, Judi and her two kids really got involved with going to church with me on a regular basis. Judi expressed to me that she would like to take the RCIA course, so she and her two children took that. It was a short time later that they became Catholic.

What fuels your dedication to the church?

I had a real “come-to-Jesus meeting” several years ago. I was diagnosed with refractory anemia, which is terminal. Generally when they tell you that, you’ve got about six months to live. I went to confession when we visited Our Lady of Good Health in Wisconsin. There I kind of decided that I needed to do something with my life. I really feel that’s what I am doing. I feel so close to the Lord now. It brought a real closeness. I don’t know how to explain it; I feel like I am at the place now where I always wanted to be.

How did the thrift shop come to be?

I talked to Father Gregory (Pilcher, the former pastor) one day because we had this empty building down here, and I said “Father I’ve got a lot of time on my hands and I got an idea of a way to make the church some extra money.” I brought up the idea of a thrift store and he liked it.

How do you deal with your disabilities?

A lot of days I do work in pain. Father Gregory had an old saying when you had to go through an ordeal or pain or whatever, “Offer it up to the Lord.”

What does “offer it up” mean to you?

It is kind of a way that I connect. I just watched a movie the other day, “Killing Jesus,” and I know the kind of pain that he endured during his crucifixion, whatever pain I am suffering pales in comparison to what he went through. If he could sacrifice himself like he did, I can certainly work through some pain.

What would you tell others with disabilities who are not as active?

God finds a way to tap into your potential in lots of different ways that you cannot even comprehend. Never give up. I’ve found that by devoting myself to the Lord and to the Church, that everything is going to be all right.

– See more at: http://www.arkansas-catholic.org/news/article/4233/Al-Ostergaard-volunteers-for-parish-despite-disability#sthash.vhLxHWFt.tueeYqI8.dpuf

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On Praying for Vocations

At church, it is common to pray for vocations. Normally, we pray that young men and women will hear and heed God’s call to religious life.I have a lot of thoughts on this particular prayer.

The Youth

The emphasis is often on the young. In the 1950s, high school boys and girls had marriage on their mind and similarly, many were ready to make a commitment to religious life at that time.  Currently, the average age for Americans to marry is in the upper 20s. It is more realistic, in our cultural milieu for people in their 20s to start really thinking about their lifelong commitments. I’ve met fine men and women in their 40s and 50s who were novices in their communities, fully embracing their call to religious life.

Emphasis on those who will be called

Let’s imagine a big party is going on and people are really enjoying themselves inside. On the outside are people who wonder how to get an invitation. They wish they knew about the party in advance and wish they had been invited. The whole party would have been better if they had shown up and everybody knows it. In this situation, whose “fault” is it that there are people who would like to be at the party but instead are hanging out wishing for an invitation? I believe that the onus is on those who are currently in the party to go out and invite folks in, giving them lavish detail bout what’s going on inside, offering a glimpse, a smile and a warm welcome. It is up to those who are throwing the party to invite others.

Read my ten ideas for vocation directors to hear more: http://franciscanpassages.org/for_vocation_directors