Local stories, events, and Catholic inspiration in northeast Wisconsin

2024 Faith That Works Award Recipient: Larry Loberger

Vincentian embraces his role to help the most vulnerable 

By Jeff Kurowski | On Mission

Faith That Works
Name: Larry Loberger
Parish: St. Philip the Apostle, Green Bay
Position: Lead Vincentian, St. Vincent de Paul Resource Center, Green Bay
(Photography by Scott Eastman)

GREEN BAY — Larry Loberger never knows what the day will bring at the St. Vincent de Paul Resource Center on Green Bay’s east side. He serves at the center three days a week, meeting with people to try to help them with basic needs.

“We get around 55 to 60 walk-ins a day and almost 70% of the people who walk in are homeless,” he said. “We deal with people who need things now. It’s not about ‘How am I going to pay my electric bill?’ but ‘Where am I going to eat next? How am I going to pay for gas to keep my car warm at night?’ We try to help them as much as we can.”

This spring, Loberger, the lead Vincentian at the center, will mark 20 years at St. Vincent de Paul. Most of those years have been as a volunteer, he said. The resource center currently has only one paid staff member. 

Loberger, a member of St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Green Bay, credits his experience with Stephen Ministry for providing a foundation to work with people living on the margins. Stephen Ministry organizes teams to provide care to people in the community who are experiencing life difficulties.

“I was in Stephen Ministry for quite a while. Fr. (Jim) Hablewitz was a wonderful person to work with,” said Loberger. “He sent me to leader training the last year he was (pastor) at Nativity (of Our Lord Parish, Ashwaubenon). I ran the program.” Fr. Hablewitz is now a senior priest for the Diocese of Green Bay.

Loberger said he has always valued opportunities to serve and work with people of a variety of faith backgrounds.

“I feel that ecumenism is important. People can work together for the common good,” he said. “I was on the board of directors for the Ecumenical Partnership for Housing (Green Bay), which is very prominent right now. That’s a tremendous program.”

“What I like about (St. Vincent de Paul), why I stuck with it, is not only am I working with the most vulnerable people here, but we are a society,” he continued. “We don’t have certain restrictions, whether we help people or not. If someone asks for a gas card, we don’t have to verify that they have a medical appointment. We listen to their story and try to make good judgments, whether we can help them or not.”

Loberger recounted his experience with a man who initially called him because he couldn’t pay his rent. He had lived in his apartment in Green Bay for five years. The man, who is over the age of 50, had had two surgeries and could no longer work.

“I talked to the landlord. He said, ‘I can’t really help if he doesn’t have income.’ He ended up getting evicted,” said Loberger. “The judge was nice enough to give him 10 more days to live there. He talked to me again. He has family in Detroit. When I was done with work, I met him at the bus depot and paid $111 to get him to Detroit. It doesn’t always work, but we try to find something to help.”

Loberger grew up on a farm in Oconto Falls, the ninth of 10 children. His family belonged to St. Anthony Parish, Oconto Falls. 

At age 18, he had left life in rural Wisconsin and was serving in the Army, stationed in Korea in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Following three-plus years in the military, he returned home and worked at feed mills, a canning factory and a milling shop. In 1969, he started working at Fort Howard Paper Company in Green Bay (now Georgia-Pacific Corporation).

In 1993, Loberger moved to Green Bay. Today, he serves as a lector and vice president of the St. Philip the Apostle Parish Conference of St. Vincent de Paul. He is also the lead person for home visits by the parish conference. Loberger previously lived in Little Suamico where he was active at St. Pius Parish, including serving on the parish council.

Loberger is also dedicated to helping save lives as a blood platelet donor. He has donated 148 gallons to date. He started as a donor after seeing children in a cancer unit at a hospital in Minnesota.

“It put that in my head. I wanted to help them,” he said. “I’ve donated around 380 times. It takes three hours each time. I have the gift of health, so I want to help. Not everybody can do that.”

Loberger and his wife, Carla, have a blended family that includes five children and eight grandchildren combined. Loberger’s eldest child is deceased. 

He said that he plans to continue to serve at St. Vincent de Paul as long as possible. He started in 2004 after retirement from the paper mill.

“We have a lot of wonderful people here volunteering. Some days are really challenging. You don’t want to take it home with you,” said Loberger. “We can’t always help. There are so many people who call all over for help and they don’t get a return phone call. We at least listen to them. If I can’t help, I tell them why and hope they understand. For example, they may want a gas card to search for jobs. The gas cards may need to go to people living in cars. We have no idea who is going to walk through the door, but we have the privilege to listen to their story.”  

For more information about emergency assistance provided by the St. Vincent de Paul Resource Center in Green Bay, visit https://www.svdpgb.org/resource-center.

Award recipients to be recognized

The 2024 “Faith That Works” award recipients will be featured in “On Mission” magazine throughout the year. The awards honor those who integrate their Catholic faith into their workplaces, parishes and communities. Award recipients are selected by an independent panel of judges from submitted nominees. A “Faith That Works” Mass and luncheon with Bishop David Ricken will be held in November.

Scroll to Top