May 16, 2023 | Local News
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

Caldwell County tornado survivor Monte Sisk (center) speaks with Kentucky governor Andy Beshear (left) and Jonas Yoder and Harrell Riley of HR Ministries, which had partnered with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Owensboro to build Sisk and his son a new home. COURTESY OF STACEY MENSER

‘Jesus built this house’ says outreach ministry leader who worked with Catholic Charities amid tornado recovery


Kentucky governor Andy Beshear took a full tour of Monte Sisk’s Caldwell County home when he visited with tornado survivors in the community on April 17. 

Sisk pointed out to the governor that his flooring was taken care of by Catholics, his cabinets paid for by Lutherans and installed by Baptists, and his siding completed by Amish neighbors.

“And my church, Christ Tabernacle, and HR Ministries here in Princeton, and Hope Force International – everyone worked together and it’s just been unbelievable how it all fell into place,” said Sisk, who lost his home in the Dec. 10, 2021 tornado storm that swept across western Kentucky.

Sisk received some support from FEMA and Red Cross after the tornado, but not enough to provide permanent housing for him and his 10-year-old son.

HR Ministries – a community outreach ministry based in Princeton and led by Harrell Riley – coordinated massive volunteer efforts in Caldwell County during the tornado response phase. As the community transitioned into recovery and rebuilding, HR Ministries partnered with Hope Force International to start construction on new homes for families in the area.

Sisk was one of the first property owners contacted about the opportunity to have a home built by HR Ministries and its partners.

“We got the house up and going, and then we were able to reach out to Catholic Charities to help us get it finished,” said Riley.

Case managers from Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Owensboro work with multiple partner agencies on the national, state and local level to match up available resources with specific needs of tornado survivors like Sisk.

While Catholic Charities funded a portion of the building materials and contractor labor needed to complete Sisk’s home, his case manager also reached out to the Indiana-Kentucky Synod of the Lutheran Church, American Red Cross, Blessed Trinity Council of the Knights of Columbus, First Christian Church of Princeton, Salvation Army, Princeton Rotary Club, Central Presbyterian Church and Convoy of Hope, as well as multiple individuals who donated their time, funds, and materials to get one more family in a home.

“Jesus built this house,” said Riley. “We’re just happy to be a part of it and happy to work with other people who love the Lord and love this community.”

Stacey Menser is a case manager with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Owensboro.

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