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Dame and Knight Chris and Tom Kroeger

09/06/2018 

This story was originally published in the Summer 2018 edition of the Hospitallers Newsletter

Chris and Tom Kroeger are an amazing couple in the Naples area who have taken the astounding extra step to form service projects for the Lee County members.   They were invested 6 years ago into the Order of Malta and are Legatus members as well.   What is so astounding about this couple is the passion they have to serve.   Chris and Tom are the Area Hospitallers for Lee County within the Naples Area. They wanted a bigger opportunity to energize the Lee County members and combine both forces of spiritual life and helping others.  So, tirelessly, this couple put themselves in the service of Sanibel Island and the Lee County members.    They realized that the hour driving to and from Naples for all of the wonderful projects, Masses, and initiatives was a problem for many members in Lee County, especially in peak season when the snow birds frequent the beautiful beaches and weather of south Florida.

Along with attending the mini retreats in the Naples area, the fall retreat in Wisconsin, Chris and Tom twice have attended the Lourdes Pilgrimage, reinforced by the reward of the grace of Lourdes. Chris, with a master’s in theology, feels that his faith was personally deepened by the pilgrimage.   He remembers, upon returning to New York, a stranger who saw him care for his Malade at the luggage return area, asking if he was the Malade’s servant.   For Tom, that was the defining moment of why we continue to serve the sick in Lourdes and why we carry that service beyond Lourdes into our everyday life.  With a heart filled with God’s love, suffering and serving are both sweet.  Tom and Chris seem to exemplify indescribable tenderness and comfort in providential, merciful moments like these.

Chris and Tom do not bury their talents; the gifts they bring have overflowed into the lives they have touched in Naples and Sanibel Island. Included in the many programs, projects and initiatives are the monthly Mass and dinner twice a year for the benefit of the Catholic Charities Human Trafficking Assistance Program for victims throughout the state.   Dinners are planned with Mass to stuff the backpacks from purchased and donated items, many coming because of notes in parish bulletins asking for donated items.

Several of the backpacks are immediately gifted to the Sheriff’s department for emergency use.  Comforting victims when they arrive in the sheriff’s office with nothing in hand offers hope and a new life – the backpacks contain a generous number of items for personal items.  Twice a year, this project supporting the Human Trafficking Assistance Program is coordinated and implemented by Chris, Tom and the Naples Area members.  For information on the Human Trafficking Assistance Program, please click here.

Chris and Tom work with members from Lee County to purchase, prepare, cook and donate dinners monthly for the Ronald McDonald House.  These meals are for the children and families at the House to enjoy.  This reminds us God’s work is not bound by places or people – the families in the Ronald McDonald house come from many areas of the country and beyond.  In Lee County, almost every member in the Area has cooked meals, taking at least one date a month to prepare three to four meals.

We hope that God looks upon our honest and holy gifts and blesses them.

Admiration is what I have for Chris and Tom Kroeger’s great strength; their identity shows a treasure chest of spiritual jewels.  With a little creativity and a lot of hard work, they and their fellow Knights and Dames continue to make the world they live in a better place as the follow the words of the Daily Prayer of the Order, practicing charity toward their neighbors. Thank you Chris and Tom !  Bravo

This article is one of a series, written by Linda Del Rio, member of the Board of Councillors and the Communications Committee. If you have a story of someone like the Kroegers, please contact me at lmariedelrio@gmail.com. Thank you for reading and God bless! 

For more information on the Naples Area, please visit their section on our website. 

This story was originally published in the Summer 2018 edition of the Hospitallers Newsletter

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