This year Los Angeles, California hosted the Special Olympics World Games with competitions held in different areas around the city. Ronald Tetreault, a Special Olympian softball player from Hazelwood, Missouri qualified to participate in this year’s competition. His parents, James and Dorothy Tetreault made the journey to the City of Angels to see their son participate. For James, this was also a homecoming experience as he returned to familiar grounds where he once walked as a Brother of St. John of God.
James completed his studies at St. Louis University and earning his degree in education. He always had a strong calling to teach and would later accept a teaching position at a school where he would meet his future wife, Dorothy.
James would transition into his new calling in life as a permanent deacon and educator. He worked for the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ School District in the special education program for more than 30 years.
Now retired, James continues his ministry as a supervisor of a sheltered workshop that hires individuals with special needs. When James is not working at the shelter, he could be found assisting at his parish, Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Church.
It is evident that James continues to carry and live out the spirit of hospitality in his life. Reflecting on his visit, he says, “In the Brothers’ ministry, they offer a beautiful and spacious environment that is not often seen in most facilities”. This is all a part of hospitality. As part of his personal outreach efforts, James visits nursing homes back in St. Louis to give Holy Communion to the elderly. He wishes there was a place like St. John of God in St. Louis.
He and his wife, Dorothy also visited St. Joseph’s in Ojai and were amazed by all the development that has occurred over the years.
He attributes this quality of care both in the facility and in the care of the residents to the fourth vow that the Brothers take, which is hospitality. When asked what is different that he sees in the Brothers’ facilities, he answered, “It’s the hospitality of the coworkers and how they interact with the residents. There is life!”
He recalled his own experience when he had to admit his mother in a skilled nursing facility and how the staff would wheel her to her room and leave her staring at the wall. This is the opposite of hospitality.
When asked what he thought what the future of the Brothers would like he said, “I don’t know how it will look and I just hope that the Brothers’ mission will still be present in the coworkers. Hopefully the seed of hospitality is planted deep inside the coworkers, and will be able to grow and keep alive in the years to come.”
James has continued on the path of hospitality in his own life inspired by the flame of “doing good to yourself by doing good for others.” He said that, “When Dorothy and I got married, part of our marriage vows was to continue to help others” and it is visible in their daily lives. James said that, “Blessings work in circles and when we help others, we in return receive a blessing.” It was a blessing and privilege to meet him and his family. What a blessing there family is to those who come in contact with them. An honorable congratulation goes out to Ron and his team, USA – Missouri for winning the Silver medal in their softball competition. They were all happy to return home with a medal.