Chris gets ready to fill Kevin’s big shoes
The expression “big shoes to fill” works on a couple of levels for Kevin Croker.
Firstly, he has big feet.
Secondly, he has done such a phenomenal job as secretary of the Clergy Retirement Fund that it was always going to be difficult to pick a suitable replacement upon his retirement.
But in Chris Koelmeyer, they’ve hit the mark.
Chris, a father of three, took on the job of Manager of the Clergy Retirement Fund on January 21, although he’d been coming into work for a month and half before that to prepare, and he says he doesn’t really find the job in front of him daunting.
“I’m not daunted because Kevin has left it in such a good state, and left me in such a good position,” Chris said.
“So it’s not daunting. It’s interesting. I’m looking forward to a challenge, and it suits my personality because I like dealing with people and have always enjoyed working with and getting to know people who are older than me.
“I feel a close affinity to the elderly, and also a strong bond to the Catholic Church.”
In a matter of speaking, you could argue that Chris has been involved in a 16 year interview process.
“The Archdiocese was actually one of my very first customers,” he said.
Born and raised a Canberra boy, Chris completed a management degree at Canberra University before taking on jobs at Unilever and Kraft
When he went out on his own in 2002 to start a building management business, Bishop Pat Power was one of the first to call him.
“I’d only been going for a couple of months and I got a phone call from Bishop Pat Power who’d had a repair needed in his driveway,” Chris explained.
“I took the job, and I recognised him instantly because he’d done my confirmation and attended my graduation at Daramalan. I did the job, we got chatting and he asked how much he owed me and I said `it only took five minutes, don’t worry about it.’
“He was so pleased he passed my name on to Kevin Croker who from time to time needed someone to do repairs for the retired priests and some nursing homes. Kevin rang me up and asked if I’d like to do some work for him and I said yes.”
Over those 16 years, Chris developed a close rapport and working relationship with Kevin and others in the Archdiocese. Then, when Kevin’s job became vacant, Chris’ name remained at the foreground of people’s minds and Bishop Pat alerted Chris to the upcoming vacancy.
“The job is a very good fit for me,” Chris said.
“I have the tertiary qualifications, but I also like being creative. I like building things and fixing things.
“And I like working with and being around people who are older than me. I find those friendships and relationships have been very respectful, positive and enjoyable.”
Some things are new for Chris. He hasn’t worked in an office for most of his adult life, although in this job he’ll still be out and about most of the time. And he has no plans to change the way things are done here, largely due to his respect for Kevin and the success he had in the job.
“Kevin did the job for 27 years,” he said.
“He did it very well, made some lasting friendships in the process and was widely admired as a result. So I won’t be looking to change things. I might do one or two things a bit differently but that’s inevitable… we’re all different.
“But as I said, I like fixing things and I know better than to try and fix anything that’s not broken.”
On behalf of the Canberra clergy, welcome aboard Chris. We pledge you our support, both practically and prayerfully. Fr Richard Thompson – Dean for the Canberra (Central) Deanery.