Seattle Parishoner Exudes High Energy Compassion

We recently ran a story on a Seattle parish’s efforts to raise funds to help Catholic Relief Services build wells in northern Ghana. But I wanted to tell you a little more about the pastoral assistant who led these efforts. Jan Kline is one enthusiastic Catholic woman.

What captured me during one of our conversations was that she cheerfully says “Har Har” after talking about St. John Mary Vianney‘s work for the poor in places where CRS works, but right in their own town and parish.

Parish project

Jan Kline, center, prepares children at a school in northern Ghana before taking their photo. Photo courtesy of St. John Mary Vianney

Quite clearly “Har Har” is her signature cheer for the compassionate members of her parish, whom she credits for the well project that has helped eradicate the guinea worm disease in northern Ghana villages such as Savelugu. St. John Mary Vianney has also gained the support of nearby parishes that helped raise money for the wells.

“We have people who deeply care,” says Kline.

At the church, located just outside of Seattle, she works with the youth ministry and shepherds youngsters into mission work. She takes a group of high school and college students across the Mexican border each year to build homes near Tijuana. She’s the one that a nearby girl’s high school calls on to help rally enthusiasm for their fair trade chocolate sale that helps CRS-supported cocoa growers around the world. CRS’ Thomas Awiapo, who has worked with Kline’s parish on the well project, describes her as “a person who doesn’t take no for an answer.”

Kline says that she became “all things for CRS” after she went on our first Called to Witness trip to our Haiti program in 1999. The trip deepened her understanding of poverty in the developing world and helped her inform her parish and the greater community about how they can make a difference.

What’s impressive about Kline is that she exudes the same level of energy on each call, even when she’s in the midst of another task, such as holding her infant grandchild or helping prepare for the church’s spaghetti dinner with her hands covered in ground beef.  

And that’s just over the phone. I opened up an e-mail that she sent to me, containing the parish’s presentation for CRS’ Operation Rice Bowl program and again, her closing signature: “Har Har.”

– Kai Hill

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One Response to “Seattle Parishoner Exudes High Energy Compassion”

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