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Idea man helps communities bring faith alive

The late Steve Jobs, one of the founders of Apple Computers, didn't achieve his level of business success because he knew the technical side of computers. He turned to an army of computer and technology experts to handle those aspects of the business.

Jobs was the idea man. He somehow came up with ideas that connected people to all that technological expertise and - at least for some - made it simple.

Also the face of his company, the Apple idea man was known for his blue jeans and mock-turtleneck collar pullovers. Well, the Archdiocese of Omaha has its own version of the "idea man." And he's known for his collar, too, but it's not mock turtleneck, it's clerical ... and for much of the year, he's also known for an array of pullover sweaters he wears with his clerics.

Our idea man is Father James Kramper, now pastor of St. Peter de Alcántara Parish in Ewing, St. Theresa of Avila Parish in Clearwater and St. John the Baptist Parish in Deloit Township of Holt County. He's left a trail of ideas that became reality throughout the archdiocese, and sometimes his ideas even take root in communities where he hasn't served.

That's the case in Verdigre, where Father Kramper's "thrift store" idea blossomed among a collection of townspeople who had heard about the success of stores in Ewing. News Editor Joe Ruff takes a look at the people, the stores and the pastor in a report on Page 14. It's a great story of so many aspects of our faith - stewardship, service and loving our brothers and sisters.

Just as Jobs focused on simplicity - even in the complexity of technology - Father Kramper works to keep things simple. He also works to give proper credit for his ideas.

God, Father Kramper says, provides the ideas. The country pastor takes it from there, dreaming about how to make that idea work and then seeking the volunteers to make it happen.

And make it happen he does, taking the role of pastor, servant and shepherd out of the church and into the community.


Another "shepherd" - the Shepherd of the Catholic Church - also makes a habit of bringing the faith to life in everyday situations.

Pope Francis has been in the headlines in recent weeks, not for the typical statements, commentary or announcements, but for driving and calling.

Earlier this month, he accepted a donated car for his personal use - reports indicate he plans to drive it on short trips around Vatican City. Now, the vehicle isn't the top-of-the-line Mercedes or Ferrari BMW you might expect for the leader of the Catholic Church. Instead - typical for Pope Francis - it's a 1984 Renault with almost 200,000 miles. Let's hope he at least kicked the tires.

What about the calling? Well, it's not the type of "call" you might expect for a man of God. Instead, the press has learned Pope Francis occasionally just picks up the phone and calls someone. His calls go out to all sorts of people who have sent him letters, staff members at the Vatican, just about anyone and any time.

Both the calling and driving are areas of some concern for Vatican officials, especially Vatican security personnel. Public knowledge of the pope calling letter writers, for example, could lead to a flood of incoming letters - email and regular mail.

As for the driving, protecting the pope becomes a little more difficult when he's out tooling around Vatican City.

Their concerns are understandable, but what can they do? He's the boss.

Even if they can't stop him, they might offer one suggestion ... don't text and drive.

Deacon Randy Grosse is editor and general manager of the Catholic Voice. Contact him at

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