September 21, 2017

“For much of his life, my Dad, Frank Bach, felt gratitude for his association with Catholic Family Service. Although his tenure as its director extended from 1965-1968, his journey began in the autumn of 1956, when Fr. Pat O’Byrne, with characteristic vision and resolve, opened a door . . .

Fr. Pat visited Wenatchee, Washington where Dad was directing Family and Child Services. Fr. Pat encouraged Dad to join him in Calgary as his assistant in setting up a new family agency.

Intrigued, Dad set his foot on that path. He embarked on a trip to Calgary to explore possibilities, and was impressed by Catholic Family Service in its inception. He was struck by the grassroots nature of the place, its fledgling office in the back room of a small storefront on 17th Avenue near 9th Street S.W.

Dad took a leap of faith, he stepped through the door, and so began an extraordinary chapter in his career and in his family’s life. He arrived in Calgary with our Mom, Betty, three small children and a brand new baby on April 6, 1957. Having left behind apple blossoms, we were greeted by a blustery and snow-laden spring. A welcoming party, arranged by Fr. Pat, awaited us at the Carburn Motel. For the next six weeks, this was to be our temporary home.

The segue to Dad’s new endeavors, through this somewhat tumultuous time, was his compelling interest in social work. Dad ventured into the nascent era of Catholic Family Service, undertaking the role of assistant director, office supervisor and, most importantly, social worker.

The dawning one-room agency was a colorful place. As it grew, clients joined the staff, becoming volunteers and adding to the energy and the burgeoning sense of community.

Those days helped shape our family. All my life I have treasured Dad’s stories of the early days at Catholic Family Service. Stories that have been a part of the fabric and narrative of our life as a family and part of the great respect and pride we hold for our Dad.

These stories echo Dad’s wisdom and humor, the peaceful way he approached the world, his gentle nature, his sense of adventure.

Dad celebrated diversity, he listened wholeheartedly, he acknowledged process, he nurtured individuality, he led by example.

His touchstone was a belief in the value of education and lifelong learning. Committed to his profession, and bolstered by the interest and encouragement of Catholic Family Service, Dad earned his MSW in 1961.

As a young girl, I thought of my Dad and his fellow colleagues as pioneers and heroes. They forged friendships that would last a lifetime and together they helped form the roots and foundation of Catholic Family Service in the early days.

Sixty years on, it is a privilege to share my Dad’s story, to reflect on the past and to honor the present, as these wonderful people continue their vital and innovative work, serving the community, building bridges, opening doors . . .”