ALLOUEZ — Mary Jane Heim recalls a program offered around Christmas in the 1970s by the Apostolate (now Catholic Charities). Clients stopped by the office on Madison Street in Green Bay to pick up a box of food containing a ham or turkey and canned fruits and vegetables.
“We worked in conjunction with the Salvation Army,” she said. “It was nice to help families and be a part of that.”
It’s one of many fond memories from her 47 years of service for the Diocese of Green Bay. Heim, who started with the Apostolate in 1972, retired this week.
“I was five months out of high school,” she explained. “I grew up on the east side of Green Bay. I attended St. Philip the Apostle School. During my years there, the school had at least 900 students. I graduated from there in 1968 and then attended St. Joseph Academy.”
Heim’s sister, Judy Otradovec, who worked for the Propagation of the Faith Office and World Missions for the diocese at the time, informed her of the opening with the Apostolate. She interviewed with Msgr. Peter Klauck and was offered the position.
Heim served the Apostolate for nearly four and a half years. Her duties included typing transcriptions of client visits and filing client information. She worked for several social workers.
“There were no computers back then,” she said. “They transcribed on a Dictaphone. Everything was typed on a typewriter. We used the onion skin paper with a carbon in between so you had a copy.”
One day, Jim Hogan invited Heim to work with him in the Diocesan Services Appeal (now known as the Bishop’s Appeal) and the Bishop’s Charities Game office. She served as secretary, receptionist and bookkeeper for both and added the title of assistant coordinator for the Bishop’s Charities Game.
“(Hogan) was a true example of a missionary disciple of Jesus,” said Heim. “He displayed it every day. He was very kind and generous. When I was first working with him, I had to keep track of the books, payments and pledges, in a ledger, no computer. He would sit down with me and explain it. For hours we would go over the books.”
The diocese sold tickets for the Bishop’s Charities Game from 1961 to 1994, when preseason game tickets were made part of the season ticket packages. Heim remembers manually counting tickets and organizing them according to section, row and seat number. She enjoyed interacting with ticket buyers on the phone.
“They were so excited. Sometimes I felt like a travel agent,” she said with a laugh. “They would ask, ‘What motels are in the area? Which restaurants should we eat at?’ I even helped people with directions to our complex. That was fun to meet a lot of people.”
She also has fond memories of attending the Bishop’s Charities Game, including a number of times where Hogan arranged a field pass for her. Heim worked with him for 18 years.
“At first, I thought if I would be (at the diocese) for five or 10 years, I would be good,” she said. “Once Jim Hogan asked me to work with him, I didn’t think about moving anywhere else. I guess I had what I wanted. I had a job that I loved. I had an amazing boss. I had good, supportive people around me.”
When Hogan moved to Human Resources, Heim moved into Computer Services for the diocese (now Information Technology), where she served for 16 years doing database work.
For the past eight-plus years, Heim has worked for the Catholic Foundation as a data entry specialist. She handled a significant amount of gift entries to various campaigns and funds, including the Bishop’s Appeal, Retirement Collection, Seminarian Collection, World Mission Services and the one by One campaign.
“Through it all, anything I’ve done throughout the years, confidentiality was key,” she said. “When Msgr. Klauck interviewed me, he asked if I could keep a secret. I said, ‘Yes I can do that.’”
“When I think about Mary Jane, there are three words that describe her career in the Curia and at the Catholic Foundation: dedication, thoroughness and faith-filled,” said Josh Diedrich, executive director of the Catholic Foundation. “The Catholic Church has been blessed by all the hard work and kindness Mary Jane provided.”
Looking back, Heim also reflects on the changes in her family life over the years. In 1981, she married her husband, Paul Heim. They have two children — a son, Brent, 32, and, a daughter, Amanda Gerrits, 29.
“I experienced happy times and bad things too,” said Heim. “We went through the trial of not being able to have children to being able to have children. As our children grew, they also became part of the diocesan family.”
She is now a grandmother. Clare Gerrits will be 14 months old on Dec. 26.
“She is just a wonderful blessing from God,” said Heim. “I enjoy spending time with her. When she gives you a hug or snuggles up to you, it is the best moment ever. It just warms your heart. Holding her is everything.”
In retirement, Mary Jane and Paul, members for the past 38 years at Holy Cross Parish, Bay Settlement, hope to travel, do more camping and enjoy more family time. Heim is thankful that she had so many years working in a faith-based environment.
“You see the face of Jesus every day,” she said. “The people you worked with showed you by their example.”