By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Two years after the passing of her husband, Clarence Henry Jr., Margaret Henry had one task left to complete — donate his Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree memorial chalice to a parish in
rural Peru. “I had to make sure this was done,” she said. Clarence Henry, a dedicated member of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton, was a police officer for more than 30 years in the community.
Margaret Henry and the couple’s three daughters wanted the chalice to go to La Virgen Pura y Limpia, a parish in Sampillica, Peru, with whom the Clinton parish once shared a warm relationship. “Our daughters thought it was a fantastic idea. Clarence always supported the special collections and support in service of this sister parish, so it was the perfect place to honor him,” his widow said.
At one time, getting the chalice to Peru would have been easy. Clinton Franciscan Sister Phyllis Morris served the area for many years and Bishop Daniel Turley, the longtime bishop of the Chulucanas Diocese in Peru, is an Augustinian from Chicago. He visited Clinton yearly to offer updates and take donations back to Peru. The parish also organized two mission trips to Sampillica. However, the ties began to fray after Bishop Turley was reassigned and Sister Morris entered retirement. The COVID-19 pandemic also played a role, said Deacon Jeff Schuetzle, who serves the Clinton parish.
Sending the chalice through the mail was not an option due to the risk of theft and Margaret Henry and her parish did not know anyone who could deliver the chalice in person. For two years, the chalice sat collecting dust, a fate Margaret Henry was trying to avoid. “I wanted it to be used, not sit on a shelf.”
She considered donating the chalice elsewhere but wasn’t ready to give up and neither was Deacon Schuetzle. When he began working at St. Vincent Center in Davenport earlier this year, he asked for advice from Miguel Moreno, diocesan coordinator of Multicultural Ministry, unaware that Moreno is from Peru.
Moreno provided more than advice; he could provide a way for the chalice to get to Sampillica. Coincidentally, he planned to attend a Hispanic lay ministry convention in New York City in October and so did Peruvian Cardinal Pedro Barreto, S.J.
Moreno contacted the cardinal, who agreed to take the chalice to Peru. They planned to meet at St. Patrick Cathedral in New York City during the El Señor de Los Milagros celebration. “Miguel was the perfect person to make this happen,” Deacon Schuetzle said, noting his appreciation for the collaboration.
Originally, Moreno planned to deliver the chalice alone but the coincidences continued. That same week, Margaret Henry was traveling to New York City to attend a Grandparents’ Day celebration at her grandson Julian’s school. Two of the Henrys’ daughters live in New York City. “God, you are right there for me,” Margaret Henry recalled thinking. “I could be there for (the chalice exchange) too!”
On Oct. 16, Margaret Henry, her daughters Meghan Gutierrez and Bridget Siegel and Gutierrez’s husband and son met up with Moreno and Cardinal Barreto at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Daughter Molly Harlow of West Des Moines offered her good wishes from afar.
Gutierrez’s husband, Julian III, is fluent in Spanish and translated a conversation between Margaret Henry and the cardinal. “The cardinal thanked us but said, and this was incredibly emotional for me, ‘I know that you have deep sorrow for your loss. I pray for you. Remember, (Clarence) is in God’s light and is eternally happy,’” Margaret Henry recalled. The family also met Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City at the cathedral. Having the opportunity to meet “not one but two” cardinals was a great blessing, she said.
About a week later, Moreno received a photo of Bishop Cristobal Meija of Chulucanas holding the chalice, along with a donation that the family sent with the chalice. The bishop shared a message of gratitude, which Moreno translated into English: “Infinitely grateful to the lady who has had the generous gesture of sending for our diocese of Chulucanas both the chalice and the money. …This is a great miracle from the Lord of Miracles, who without knowing me has been kind enough to send us these with all confidence. May the Lord reward you with many blessings to the family.”
Margaret Henry is grateful that the chalice is finally in Peru. She believes her husband would have joked about how long it took; he was a punctual person who liked to arrive at Mass 30 minutes early. He wouldn’t have wanted the chalice story to be about him. “It’s about a chalice that the Knights of Columbus gave in my memory; it just happens to have my name on it,” she believes her husband would say.
“My family and I are grateful to Miguel and Deacon Schuetzle for their many efforts to see the chalice safely to its new home,” she said. She hopes the story of the chalice’s journey will encourage others to consider the needs of the less fortunate, “especially at this time of year.”
About the Memorial Chalice Program
The Memorial Chalice Program memorializes a deceased Fourth Degree Knight by presenting a chalice, engraved with his name, to a bishop, priest, parish or mission. The deceased Knight is remembered during every Mass in which the chalice is used.