Brother Larry Jochim

Brother Larry Jochim CINCINNATI—As a member of the Glenmary Home Missioners' Brothers' Building Crew Brother Larry Jochim completed 46 major building projects over 40 years in over 30 Glenmary mission and ministry sites—some more than once—in 12 states. Brother Larry, 76, died Sept. 27, 2007, in Cincinnati after a brief illness.

A native of Poseyville, Ind., he joined Glenmary in 1948 and took his First Oath in 1950. "The Lord has blessed me in many ways," he said when summing up his 57 years of home mission ministry. "I've been given the chance to share in people's lives and been allowed to let others touch my life, and I'm so very grateful."

The self-taught builder began learning his craft growing up on his family's farm in Southern Indiana. After joining Glenmary, he had to wait a few years before putting those skills to work. He served as the prefect for brothers in training from 1953 to 1965. In 1965, he became a member of one of the Brothers' Building Crews. These crews, organized in 1957, were made up of skilled brothers who provided construction and building repair assistance to Glenmary missions in Appalachia, the South and the Southwest. They built churches, parish halls, and rectories and did general repair work. Their contribution to a building project typically resulted in an estimated savings of 25-35 percent on construction costs. In 1971 Brother Larry became the director of Building Crew No. 1.

There are two projects that stood out in Brother Larry's memory: building the residence at Glenmary's Headquarters in Cincinnati and building the new church in Norton, Va. The residence was the largest project—15,000 square feet—that he was involved in completing, working full-time with six other brothers. The new St. Anthony Church in Norton, Va., which he referred to as "building the cathedra,l" was the most difficult because of the design.

But regardless of the project or the location, Brother Larry had a constant companion: a statue of St. Joseph the Worker. The eight-inch wood-carved image was hung by the brothers at the beginning of every new job. For Brother Larry, the statue became an evangelization tool. Because construction sites have a lot of foot traffic, different people would notice the statue and ask about it. Those questions gave Brother Larry the opportunity to talk about the Catholic faith.

"When I think of the qualities that St. Joseph must have possessed—quiet, unassuming, a skilled carpenter, a man of deep prayer, profound faith and common sense—I think of Brother Larry," says Glenmary president Father Dan Dorsey. "Brother Larry's one goal in life was to love and serve his God by humbly loving and serving God's people. I think he more than achieved his goal!"

For Brother Larry, religious life always came first and building came second. "You can always hire someone to build for you," he said, "but you can't hire someone to pray for you."

He didn't see his ministry as just about buildings, he also saw it as a way to build community by soliciting help from the parish he was working in. Parishioners working together for the love of God made the parish draw closer together, he said.

Brother Larry never stopped picking up pointers from other builders and his fellow Glenmary brothers, including Brothers Bob Hoffman, Ralph Riehle, Dennis Craig, Joe Steen and Virgil Siefker. In 1997 he began thinking about ending his work with the Building Crew. The ladders, he said, were just getting too high.

In January of 1998, he was assigned as a parish brother at Immaculate Conception Church in Hugo, Okla. He took senior membership in 2001 and remained in Hugo until moving to Nashville, Tenn., in 2004. Even during his "retirement" he found ways to keep himself busy doing repair and small construction projects.

When he celebrated his 50th jubilee in 2000, parishioners in Hugo gave him a quilt that memorialized all the building projects he worked on during his years with the Brothers' Building Crew. Each block of the quilt is dedicated to the state in which Brother Larry worked.

In reflecting on his years as a Glenmary home missioner, Brother Larry said his life had been more than he ever anticipated it could be when he joined Glenmary. "God gave me a special grace to move easily from job to job, place to place," he said. "That grace opened me to so many wonderful experiences and people. I've been blessed."