Men in Black Calendar back on schedule
The following story appeared in the October 22 Idaho Catholic Register.
Father Adrian Leszko, left, parochial vicar at St. Mark’s Parish in Boise, moves his king out of harms way in a game of chess with Father Pawel Pawliszko, parochial vicar at Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Caldwell. They are featured in the Men in Black Calendar. Proceeds from the calendar are used to support seminarians in the Diocese of Boise.
By Gene Fadness
The Men in Black are back. After a year’s interruption due to the pandemic, the popular calendar featuring Idaho priests and promoting vocations has returned.
Priests are pictured riding horses, playing chess, chopping wood, cooking, bike riding and celebrating birthdays. Participating priests are able to choose a favorite pastime. The only choice they did not have: they had to be wearing their Roman collar.
“We know Father Mark Uhlenkott doesn’t wear a Roman collar when he chops wood, and we are positive that Father Joshua Falce doesn’t wear a cassock to go climbing,” said MaryLou Molitor, creator of the calender. “They are such good sports about wearing their collars for the photo sessions, because they understand the idea behind this calendar: showing priests engaged in all sorts of activities.”
Money raised from the calendars goes to promote the work of the St. John Vianney Society, which, in turn, supports seminarians in the Diocese of Boise and promotes vocations.
Father Mark Uhlenkott, parochial vicar at All Saints Parish in Lewiston, in one of three pictures included in the calendar of him chopping and moving wood. (Top photo courtesy of Father Leszko and Father Pawliszko. Bottom photo courtesy of Kerry Uhlenkott)
Molitor says the calendar makes the priesthood visible on a day-to-day basis, reminding people to pray for priests and for vocations.
“Because we photograph the priests engaged in all kinds of activities and hobbies, it shows young people that priests are real people with real-world interests that extend far beyond the altar,” she said. Also, because the calendar features different priests each month, it allows people to recognize priests from around the state whom they other-wise would never meet.
Molitor and her late husband, Bill, created the calendar from an idea that surfaced during an informal conversation at the 2011 Idaho Catholic Youth Conference Some recently ordained priests and ICYC volunteers were talking about the many demands priests face in a Diocese that does not have enough priests to serve its far-flung parishes.
“The young priests began to share ideas about how best to encourage vocations, particularly among young people,” Molitor said. “Then, seemingly from out of nowhere, one of the volunteers said, ‘We ought to do a priest calendar, kind of like the Boise firemen have done as a fundraiser for their Burnout Fund.’
Immediately the table talk became more lively. “Among the priests at that dinner, we knew there was an artist, a cowboy, and a guitar player, all activities that could be highlighted in a fun and attractive format,” Molitor said.
Top left, Father Dat Vu, pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Boise, enjoys cooking from scratch. Below right, Father Dennis Day is retired, but he continues to help parishes in the Diocese with sacramental needs. Below left, Father Camilo Garcia, pastor of St. Nicholas Parish in Rupert, relaxes while riding a horse. Below right, Father Evarist Shiyo, ALCP, prison ministry chaplain for the Diocese, takes a spin on his bike. All are featured in this year’s Men in Black calendar (Photos courtesy of MaryLou Molitor)
It would take another year and a half for the idea to come to fruition with the first Men in Black Calendar in 2013.
In February of 2018, Bill Molitor, who was the photographer for the calendar, as well as for major events for the Idaho Catholic Register, passed away suddenly. MaryLou was determined that the calendar would go on.
“It was never even a passing thought that we wouldn’t do the calendar, because the calendar wasn’t just Bill’s project, but was a work of the Holy Spirit,” Molitor said. “Bill would want us to keep it up because it’s not about us; it’s all about promoting vocations in the diocese.”
Molitor readily admits she is not the photographer her husband was. But, each year, volunteers come forward to help. This year, eight photographers, including Molitor, contributed. “We almost feel as if we’re starting over again,” Molitor said. “On the other hand, we did have quite a number of people ask where the calendars were last year, so we know we have many friends who have become accustomed to having a calendar each year.”
In addition to photographers, pastors and volunteers coordinate distribution of the calendars in their respective parishes.
“This project was a great gamble at the beginning, but it has taken on a life of its own,” Molitor said. “Every year it seems as if things just miraculously come together in time. Of course, I’m constantly praying to St. John Vianney for his help, and so far he has come through.”
Father Costance Swai, left, parochial vicar at Holy Spirit Catholic Community in Pocatello, lights a candle in preparation for a baptism. On the right, Father Aleksander Dembowski, parochial vicar at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, plays classical music on the piano at the rectory. (Photos courtesy of MaryLou Molitor)
Father Arogyam Madanu, above left, with his older brother, Father Sleeva Madanu. The brothers serve together at St. George’s Parish in Post Falls. Father Sleeva is pastor for the parish and Father Arogyam is parochial vicar. On the right, Father Joshua Falce, parochial vicar at St. Edward’s Parish in Twin Falls who enjoys hiking, is at Sho-shone Falls. They are among the many priests in this year’s Men in Black Calendar, created annually by the St. John Vianney Society. The Society was founded by MaryLou Molitor and her late husband, Bill, to support seminarians in the Diocese. “Bill would want us to keep it up because it’s not about us; it’s all about promoting vocations in the diocese,” Molitor said. (Photos courtesy of MaryLou Molitor)
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