Home Mission Stories is excited to share this anecdote with you. This story published in Glenmary’s Boost-A-Month Club newsletter in January, but it was too good of a tale to not share again here. In this story, Glenmary’s graphic designer finds out she had a family connection to the Home Missioners of America without ever knowing it.
Mike Magnotta doesn’t remember any of it. Father Rollie Hautz scratches his head, too. After all, it was 60 years ago. But Father Rollie did the baptizing, and then-baby Mike wound up meeting him again, this time in Cincinnati, at Glenmary headquarters.
Back in 1958 Father Rollie’s missions included Lebanon, Virginia, in the Appalachian mountains. There were a handful of Catholics in the area. Father Rollie celebrated sacraments with them all, as he worked to spread the Gospel and to establish permanent Catholic parishes.
Mike’s dad, Joe, worked near Lebanon, building the Clinch River power plant. A lifelong Catholic, Joe naturally brought his new baby to nearby St. Paul, to be baptized. He and his wife, Marti, became friends with Father Rollie, having him over to the house from time to time for Sunday dinner. Little could he imagine that decades later his granddaughter would be creating the magazine (Glenmary Challenge) for Father Rollie’s society, Glenmary, in Cincinnati. That’s where Mike and his wife, Linda, settled.
Cassie, Mike’s second daughter, had come to work at Glenmary as a publications designer, after answering an ad online just back in 2017. Trained in design, at the time she was working at a local violin shop. Creative people have many talents, and Cassie is no exception. On Thanksgiving, 2018, Cassie and her mother decided to open the family table to Cassie’s new friends at Glenmary. Never one to turn down a meal, Father Chet (photo on right) brought along Father Gerry “Pete” Peterson. Assistant Development Director Rachel Thome and her brother Chris came along, too.
As Father Chet made small talk with Cassie’s dad, Mike, they compared personal history. “Where are you from?” Father Chet asked him. “You’ve probably never heard of it,” Mike replied. “I was born in a small town in the Virginia mountains.” “Try me,” said Father Chet. “Lebanon,” said Mike. “Hey, we used to have a parish there….” You might see where this story’s going. Sure enough, Mike had been baptized in the parish, unbeknownst to him, by a Glenmary priest, Father Rollie Hautz. Mike’s older sister, texted by Cassie, remembered Father “House” coming for dinner back then.
Father Chet made a phone call to verify where Father Rollie was in 1958, and, sure, enough, his assignment included St. Vivian’s Chapel (mobile home), in Lebanon. This would call for a reunion!
Father Rollie, 91, is now living in a retirement home in Cincinnati. Once a month he comes to Glenmary headquarters for an evening of prayer and social time with other Glenmarians. When he came this past December, he was surprised to meet Mike and family, and even allowed a few photos as he and Mike exchanged memories and a photo scrapbook.
Of course, as we said at the outset, then a baby, Mike didn’t remember any of the Baptism. But, truthfully, a parish priest with service as long as Father Rollie’s doesn’t remember many of the hundreds of babies he baptized, either.
Alas, Mike was no exception. “I was a pastor for more than 60 years!” Father Rollie explained, proudly. Then Linda, Mike’s wife produced the baptismal certificate. At the bottom, in blue ink, clear as day, was a signature: “Fr. Roland Hautz.”
Meanwhile, Cassie Magnotta is pinching herself! Is this some kind of dream? In a big city, among literally hundreds of design opportunities, how did she wind up working at Glenmary, among the society who baptized her father in another state? Her conclusion, no pun intended: “It’s Providence at work.”
—Story by John Feister
This story first appeared in Glenmary’s Boost-A-Month Club newsletter. To learn more about the BAM program, click HERE.