Like many of their fellow Holy Family Cathedral parishioners, Jim and Lisa Phelan fell in love with the beauty of the cathedral and the Liturgy. Although relatively new to our parish, having become parishioners in 2022, they feel the strong sense of community that exists here and beyond the walls of our cathedral.
“We moved around a lot with my career,” Jim says. “However, we were blessed to settle down in Ponca City for many years to get our older children through high school. We lived a little outside of town and were able to give our children more of a country upbringing.”
A dream of theirs was to own a working cattle ranch, which they did in Missouri for seven years before returning to Oklahoma. Jim and Lisa operated a non-profit through the ranch to offer a place of solace to families who experienced traumatic events. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, even though they were living their dream of owning the ranch and running the non-profit, Jim and Lisa re-evaluated their plans and decided to move back to Oklahoma to be closer to family and volunteer in other capacities.
“I would go and have little coffee talks with God,” Lisa says. “Although I loved the work we were doing on the ranch, I wanted opportunities to work with hospice, a children’s hospital, and the ACTS Retreat. He guided us back to where our oldest, Alyce, lives and I am able to participate in all three of those areas.”
Jim and Lisa both serve at Holy Family Cathedral as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, a role they fulfilled prior to joining our parish. Additionally, Lisa was on the team that helped bring the Women’s ACTS Retreat to Holy Family, while Jim took on the ministry leader position for our Home Improvement Ministry. This group assists with the fall and spring parish work days and does quarterly service at homes of the elderly at Holy Family.
Outside of our parish, assisting with hospice care is a high priority for Jim and Lisa. Jim primarily serves at Porta Caeli, the hospice ministry at Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma. Lisa volunteers regularly at Clarehouse.
“Hospice care has been something that has always been heavy on my heart and I have done it in some capacity for 30 years,” Lisa says. “It’s an honor to spend this time with the guests and I have seen some wonderful things. Although Clarehouse is not a religious institution, the experiences continue to deepen my faith. I feel the presence of Jesus in those rooms. How can that not bring me closer to Him?”
“There are so many opportunities to see the Holy Spirit working through the guests and their families at Porta Caeli,” Jim adds. “I assist with simple tasks like cleaning rooms or making food, but I’m also able to help families during this time of transition and be a listening ear for them and the guests alike. It’s sacred time and we never want anyone to be afraid.”
In addition to his time at Porta Caeli, Jim volunteers at The Market at Catholic Charities. He says the most compelling thing about both ministries is the dignity Catholic Charities shows to the people they serve.
“Both Jim and I have servants’ hearts,” Lisa says. “I have always thought though that giving of your time or your talent is not about what you are doing — it’s about how you are doing it. Our lives are not about us. These missions that are so close to our hearts give us the opportunity to serve the vulnerable and be a witness to God’s love.”