ST. LOUIS – October is Clergy Appreciation Month. People in the St. Louis area, and even a Fortune 500 company, are celebrating pastors, chaplains, and other spiritual leaders.

“They mean so much,” Alisa Goessling said. “I go to daily mass. I see the work that goes on that {clergy} have to do – to help people with marriages, divorces, funerals, any kind of concern whatsoever. And then you add in service for the poor. The addicted. The needy. They are doing so much, and I have the greatest appreciation for their faith that allows them to serve 24 hours a day.”

Goessling is one of hundreds of people who went to mass Sunday morning at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. She has a lot of gratitude for the leaders of her church.

“They are men of God,” she said. “I think that the Sisters are women of God, and I think that they give their lives. People don’t realize how hard they work to help others, and they do it because they are marked by faith.”

According to May 2020 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 9,000 people serve as religious workers across the U.S. About 65% of Americans identify as Christian.

While Sam Brammeier grew up going to Catholic Church, today he keeps an open mind to all beliefs.

“To everybody in any sort of leadership role, whether it be in the church or out, you have the opportunity to have a massive impact on the communities and the people around you,” he said. “So, the fact that they’re doing that day-in and day-out is absolutely fantastic.”

Even some employers are implementing clergy programs to improve workplace culture. Kevin Scherer, the director of Tyson Foods’ Chaplain Services program, says the company has 100 chaplains stationed across 22 states, including Missouri and Illinois.

“People want to be seen. They want to be heard. They want to be valued. They want to belong,” Scherer said. “And I think that that’s what clergy provide people.”

Scherer said the chaplains he supervises are trained to operate from the orientation of Tyson’s team members and not their own faith orientation. He said it’s about emotional and spiritual support.

“As odd as it might sound to have chaplains at America’s largest food company, it really has become a part of our culture,” Scherer said.