Weak or influential, wealthy or in need, Catholic, Protestant or without any church affiliation at all, the people of Hannibal know they can count on Father Mike Quinn.
Holy Family parish’s pastor has spent the past two decades cooperating, reconciling, building-up, and focusing people’s gaze beyond the walls of their homes, churches and schools.
He has stepped up the pace of community engagement for himself and his parishioners, and he now has an award that says so.
The Hannibal Chamber of Commerce presented Fr. Quinn with its Pacesetter Award, its highest honor, for his example of unselfish service and for helping Hannibal progress and move forward.
The Chamber’s awards nominating committee unanimously endorsed the priest’s nomination.
“A friend to most who have ever met or been associated with him, he’s a great example of how we as Christians are called to live,” Hannibal Chamber of Commerce President Rich Stilley stated upon presenting the award.
To keep the honor a surprise, Fr. Quinn was invited to attend the Chamber’s 110th annual meeting and banquet and give the invocation.
Keeping him around for a while took some convincing, because he was determined to go hear confessions at a Cursillo function in nearby Quincy, Illinois.
“He was obviously very shocked and very thankful” for the award, said Holy Family parishioner Hal Benedict, a member of the Chamber. “He spoke briefly, thanking the Chamber and the businesses.”
“Everywhere you turn”
Born and raised in Monroe City and ordained a priest of the Jefferson City diocese in 1970, he ministered in Jefferson City and Wardsville before serving for 21 years at what is now known as St. Thomas More Newman Center parish in Columbia.
He was appointed pastor of Holy Family parish in 1998 and has been forging bonds all over the greater Hannibal community ever since.
“A man of many gifts and talents, he works tirelessly to help the poor and marginalized,” Mr. Stilley said at the award dinner. “He is a go-getter, with ‘GO!’ being the operative word.”
Fr. Quinn has been an active member of the Knights of Columbus for more than 40 years.
He has assisted with the work of Douglass Community Services, North East Community Action Corporation and the Salvation Army and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Hannibal’s Avenues Shelter for abused women and children.
He has worked on or participated in Teens Encounter Christ, Residents Encounter Christ for prison residents, Cursillo, the Loaves and Fishes Community Meal program, Engaged Encounter, White House Retreats, Catholic Charities of Central and Northeast Missouri, and the St. Francis Catholic Worker Community in Columbia.
His kind spirit and heart led him to establish the “Good Neighbor Project” dedicated to helping the poor in Marion and Ralls counties with food, utilities, rent, transportation and many other needs too numerous to mention.
He regularly visits the nursing homes and established a Senior Snowman Tree for gifts for them at Christmas.
He established a Mitten Tree program at Christmas for local children in the Head Start program.
And of course, he’s very active in the parish.
“Everywhere you turn, Fr. Mike is there, without expecting anything in return, to give a hand and help bring unity to the community,” said Holy Family parishioner and Hannibal Chamber of Commerce member Barbara Broughton.
“I don’t know how he finds enough hours in the day to do everything he does,” she said. “But he does it, he does it will, and he’s always optimistic. His glass is always full!”
Mr. Stilley, the Chamber president, noted that Fr. Quinn grew up in a loving, hardworking, God-centered family on a farm in neighboring Monroe County.
“Having faith-filled parents who encouraged his vocation led him to his ordination as a Catholic priest,” said Mr. Stilley. “... God is No. 1 in his life, and his family is a close second.”
“A heart for helping”
Mr. Benedict sat on the Chamber’s awards nominating committee.
“The Pacesetter is a very prestigious award,” he said. “It’s really a lifelong accomplishment for someone who has gone above and beyond and been a civic leader in the community.”
As soon as Fr. Quinn’s name came up, the committee enthusiastically agreed to make him this year’s honoree.
“He has a heart for helping the type of people you don’t normally see,” said Mr. Benedict. “They’re the people in Hannibal who need the love and support that Fr. Mike can give.”
“He’s such a God-loving man, and people-loving, too,” Mr. Benedict continued. “He touches the hearts of so many people — not just Catholics but other Christians and other people who don’t really have a faith life.”
“He’ll talk to anybody. He’ll be of service to anybody. That’s the type of leadership and role model that we all should all follow.”
Hannibal is home to an elegant sufficiency of churches and ministers of the Gospel to lead them. Fr. Quinn is friends with many of them, and a few have been known to turn to him for guidance.
He’s fond of saying, “We’re all trying to get to the same place.”
“Fr. Mike is a wonderful example of someone who’s doing his best to try to get us all there,” said Mr. Benedict.
Sharing Christ with the community
Mrs. Broughton believes everyone in Hannibal knows, trusts and looks up to Fr. Quinn.
“Bringing the voice of Christ to the entire community, not just his own flock, is what got him the recognition for this award,” she said.
“He’s not looking for any recognition,” she added. “He’s just there to bring unity to every group he works with.”
Mrs. Broughton and her husband Gary graduated from the University of Missouri in Columbia and knew Fr. Quinn when he was the Newman Center chaplain.
She said he preaches strong, animated homilies and promotes Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
“He has a good message to share with everyone, whether you’re 90 years or 9 months old,” she said.
She believes that bit by bit, Fr. Quinn is helping Holy Family parish to also become a pacesetter.
“The way he’s articulated the needs and the way we are formulating our plan to go forward, I think we’re getting there,” she said.
“We may never be all the way there,” she added, “but we certainly are working in the right direction.”
“I’m proud, Fr. Quinn,” Bishop W. Shawn McKnight stated on Facebook the day after the award was announced. “Thank you for your leadership as a priest!