From Upstate New York to Eastern Kentucky

Posted: 8/31/2006

CINCINNATI (Aug. 31, 2006)—Michele Bertot, the new pastoral coordinator of Glenmary's Holy Redeemer mission in Vanceburg, Ky., is excited by her new position. And the most exciting thing, she says, are the people of this 25-family mission church. "They have been very welcoming and they are so enthusiastic," she says. "Their faith is alive. They are so eager to share their faith and I'm eager to share faith with them."

In her first few days on the job she is finding that life in Lewis County, located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, is much more relaxed than what she is used to. She says that "it feels really good!"

Prior to coming to Eastern Kentucky, Michele was the pastoral administrator of an 800-family church, Holy Name of Jesus, in the Diocese of Rochester. Michele and her husband, Ted, moved to Vanceburg on Aug. 10 and her first official day on the job in Vanceburg was Aug. 23.

Holy Redeemer is one of eight missions in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Virginia staffed by Glenmary pastoral coordinators. These professional lay ministers are appointed the canonical administrators of these mission parishes by the local bishop. She, like all Glenmary's pastoral coordinators, is the official presence of the Catholic Church in her county, is responsible for the growth and development of the parish community and for fostering ecumenism, evangelization and social outreach. She holds a master of arts in theology from St. Bernard School of Theology and Ministry in Rochester.

Glenmary Father Larry Goulding, who also recently moved to Lewis County, will serve as sacramental minister to both Holy Redeemer and Sts. John and Elizabeth in neighboring Carter County.

For Michele and Ted, their move to Vanceburg and her work with Glenmary is something that has been percolating in the background for over seven years. When they learned of the job opportunity in Vanceburg it came at a perfect moment in their professional and personal lives. "We've wanted to do this type of ministry for quite some time," Michele says, "and this seemed to be a perfect fit for us."

Life is different in Kentucky from what they were used to in New York, but that's OK with the Bertots. "We're taking things in stride and opening ourselves up to the local community and to the parish community," she says. Since May, they have visited Vanceburg frequently and many parishioners say they feel like they have known both Michele and Ted forever!

For the moment, the Bertots are just trying to learn as much as they can about the parish and the county. They are looking forward to some upcoming events like the Lewis County School Fair at which the mission will have a booth with Catholic literature available. And in December, there is the county-wide ecumenical Project Merry Christmas which helps provide a Christmas shopping experience for the low-income residents of Lewis County.

"We're looking forward to meeting the folks in the county," she says. "We're feeling more and more at home each day."