By Eileen Jevis
Staff writer

“For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them” Ephesians 2:10.

Barbara Mickler received a phone call at 12:30 a.m. informing her that her aunt had just passed away. Thirty minutes later, sanitation workers were pounding on the front door telling the family that their house was on fire, and they had to leave immediately. These are just a few examples of the struggles and challenges the Mickler family faced in 2021. The fire started in the attic. It left that level destroyed and caused extensive water damage on the second floor. The Mickler family was displaced, and for over a year they lived in a hotel. Rob Mickler, who was receiving dialysis for treatment of kidney failure, was hospitalized three times last year to undergo procedures for a heart condition. 

Through it all, the family’s faith never faltered. Their parish community was their support.

After their insurance coverage was depleted, the Micklers used up all their savings and retirement funds to restore their house. “It would have been easy to become overwhelmed,” said Barbara. “But we put our faith in the Lord and knew that things would work out.” While they struggled with the multitude of issues to put their lives back together, they never hesitated to continue their service to their parish with humility and grace.

Barbara Mickler has been a member of Holy Trinity in Utica since birth. Her husband, Rob, has been a parishioner since he and his wife were married there 50 years ago. Barbara is an active volunteer at the church and school serving as a member of the PTA and parish council. She is a Eucharistic minister and manages the food pantry with her son, Paul Mickler, D.C. Paul is also a Eucharistic minister and teaches religious education. All three Micklers serve as lectors. They are grateful to be able to serve their parish. 

When the pastor, Father John Mikalajunas, and the parishioners of Holy Trinity heard about the Micklers’ devastating house fire, they rallied around the family and provided them with everything from spiritual care and advice to gift cards and food.

“After the fire we were in great need,” said Rob Mickler. “Father Mikalajunas, Father Joseph Moskal and Deacon George Spohr showed great concern and were there with a listening ear and good advice. Our friends and church community donated food and helped us in so many ways.” 

Friends, family and neighbors also lent a hand, taking care of the mail, shoveling snow and keeping watch on their house, explained Barbara. “With so much support from our family, neighbors, the parish and even the staff at the hotel, we knew we were going to be OK.”  

Parishioner Bonnie Przestzelski has known the Micklers for 20 years. She is inspired by their kindness and compassion despite the hardships they’ve experienced in their lives. “They have been involved in many ministries. They are truly God’s workers,” she said. “I consider them good friends because they always offer advice and kind words that make you feel better.”

“They are a true inspiration and a shining example of our faith,” added parishioner and longtime friend Melanie Myers. “In spite of suffering loss from a fire in their home, they kept a positive attitude and were readily available to assist in the needs of the church. Their works reflect what Jesus Christ has taught us throughout the years.” 

Barbara Mickler said it was the hardships her family faced when she was a child that taught her that faith brings you through the most difficult situations. “My father was blind,” she said. “I became his eyes. Whenever he had to walk, I would lead him.” Barbara’s mother went to work to support them. “She was our strength, and I drew my strength from her.”  

After years of her father being blind, Barbara said that her uncle came from New York City and scheduled a doctor’s appointment with an eye specialist in Syracuse. The doctor said it was time for eye surgery. The surgery resulted in her father being able to see out of one eye. “It was a miracle,” said Barbara.  “He was able to see well enough to go back to work.”

The Micklers are a tight-knit family. “We knew how each other was feeling,” said Barbara. “We were always there for each other. The three of us were each other’s comforting grace. 

“Without Paul’s unflagging energy and strength, we would not have been able to accomplish as much as we have,” added Rob. 

Father Mikalajunas considers the Mickler family unsung heroes because of their humility, gentleness and willingness to support Holy Trinity in multiple ways while never seeking recognition. “Their words of kindness and the desire to serve others in ministry is a joy to me as pastor.” Father Mikalajunas said Barbara’s generosity never wavered even when the family was displaced. She continued to bring him soups, jams and pickles. “The Micklers are the foundation of our parish, continuing the 126-year mission of Holy Trinity — living and sharing the message of Christ.”

The Micklers said their service to the church was their way to give thanks to the Lord. “It gives you a peaceful feeling to help and give back to God. Put your troubles in the Lord’s hands and he will give you the strength you need,” said Barbara.

“All of those who helped us are the true angels,” added Rob. “They will always be remembered in our prayers.” 

If you would like to nominate an unsung hero in your parish or school, email us at info@thecatholicsun.com. Please provide a brief synopsis of the teacher, mentor, volunteer or spiritual leader, along with your name and contact information.


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