Bishop Sample speaks to middle schoolers during a 2011 conference in Marquette.
Catholic credit union part of life on peninsula
MARQUETTE, Mich. — Every few miles in this Lake Superior town, signs mark the location of another "U.P. Catholic Credit Union." In the 1950s, when Catholics — and everyone else — were having trouble getting loans, the young rector of St. Peter Cathedral began the venture. It has lasted.
Father Nolan McKevitt introduced the virtues of credit unions to his parish in 1953. At that time, loan sharks and pawn shops were charging interest rates as high as 33 percent. Father McKevitt wanted his congregation to encourage thrift and create a source of credit at legitimate rates of interest.
He liked the democratic structure of credit unions. Parishioners agreed. By year's end, they had organized the St. Peter's Cathedral Credit Union.
Business was conducted by volunteers in the basement of the cathedral, then a small office behind the Holy Family Home Orphanage. Loan rates were well below the average.
Other parishes wanted to join and the venture was renamed the Marquette Catholic Credit Union. By 1976 assets had increased to more than $4.7 million and by 1991 reached $38 million.
The credit union got its current name in 2006 because of its expansion well outside the city. Any registered member of a parish in the Diocese of Marquette, or employees of parishes and schools, are eligible to join. Assets have now reached almost $138 million.
MARQUETTE, Mich. — Son of a banker, Archbishop Alexander Sample reportedly has natural financial acuity.
"He is good at balancing the budget," says Carol Parker, longtime accountant for the Diocese of Marquette. "If we don't have the money for it, we don't do it."
A banking colleague of the archbishop's father sits on the diocesan finance board and at times has evoked the senior Sample's sound policies during discussions.
The archbishop has been forced to close some parishes because of budget and merged others because he lacked the clergy to cover the many small towns. Most priests already serve three or four churches.
"He did what he had to do," says Paulette Aho, pastoral associate of St. Jude Parish in White Pine, at the far west end of the peninsula. "He did it in a way that didn't offend you. He concerns himself with the feelings of others."
Being an administrator was not on Archbishop Sample's mind as a seminarian and young priest. But he does what must be done. He also finds good people and trusts their judgment.
"All through seminary, your heart is on being a pastor," he says. "I never thought I'd have to learn to read a spreadsheet."