Father Emil Cook – Spiritual Director
Father Emil Cook arrived in Honduras in 1970 to begin his life’s mission to serve the poor. He began by taking in youth and helping them pursue their education, which would have been otherwise impossible for those suffering from poverty. In 1986, Fr. Emil and a group of his initial students formed APUFRAM (Association of Franciscan Boys’ and Girls’ Towns), a non-profit organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty through Christ-centered education. Since then, because of the generosity of many in the US and elsewhere, APUFRAM has been operating various boarding facilities for boys and girls; orphanages; elementary, junior high, and high schools; university student housing; and a single-mothers project throughout Honduras and the Dominican Republic. Fr. Emil is also dedicated to encouraging priestly vocations by preparing and sending prospective students to the seminary. Throughout the years, he has also served communities spiritually by building churches, providing for priests and pastoral workers in rural areas, and celebrating Masses. Each year, Fr. Emil spends several months traveling throughout the United States, visiting supporters, and promoting our call to be a missionary church.
Dick Landrigan – President
Dick joined the APUFRAM International Board of Directors in 2011 and has served as president since 2013. His introduction to APUFRAM was as was as a leader of the youth group of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Sudbury, Massachusetts. He made his first trip to APUFRAM with the group in 1996 and made a half dozen return visits helping bring around 300 teens to learn from their brothers and sisters in Honduras. Many of the group saw their two week experience in finding Christ in a very different place to have been a key influence in their lives.
Dick’s two children joined the trips and his wife Janelle brought her middle school teaching skills into play with APUFRAM students on two of the trips. Daughter Catharine was a volunteer coordinator at APUFRAM for two busy summers. In 2018 Dick brought a group of his brother’s Boston College students to APUFRAM in conjunction with their public health outreach studies.
Dick was raised in Boston and is an attorney in Boston/Somerville, Massachusetts, specializing in litigation. He has had a close association throughout his career with the Hispanic and Vietnamese communities around Boston, utilizing his linguistic skills. After graduating from Boston College in 1966 Dick went to Chile as a Peace Corps Volunteer. At the invitation of a community of Franciscans from Holland, he helped begin an agricultural cooperative and taught high school at the rural Misión Quilacahuín in Osorno Province. Dick was then involved for several years in rural development projects in Sadec, Vietnam with the Agency for International Development. After completing law school at Boston College Dick worked with the federal government in employment discrimination law in Atlanta before returning to Boston.
The opportunity to work cooperatively with the leadership of APUFRAM has been the most fulfilling aspect of Dick’s involvement in APUFRAM International. And, of course, the privilege of helping fulfill Father Emil’s mission is a reward without measure.
Cindy Glaser – Vice President/Secretary
An invitation in her diocesan newspaper from Father Emil inviting people to visit the mission was just what she was spiritually seeking. In 1997, Cindy went to Honduras for the first time, and returned again three times since then. Since her first trip, Father Emil has visited her parish or community every other year.
She and her husband, Jerry, returned in 1985 to his family farm near the small town of Spalding, nestled at the foot of the Nebraska Sandhills where they both grew up. Their operation consists of stock cows and organic grass-finished cattle. Along with pasture land, they also have an irrigated rotation crop of alfalfa and other grasses, corn or popcorn, soybeans or dry edible beans and cover crops for organic sales and grass-finished cattle production.
Mary Eckart – Treasurer
Mary and her husband, Joe, are the proud parents of six children, four boys and two girls: Bob, Maria, Christina, Andy, and twins James and John. All are grown and married except for Andy, who resides with Mary and Joe. So far, they have been blessed with 17 grandchildren. They are somewhat of an international family as one of their daughters-in-law is from Croatia, and another is from El Salvador.
Throughout her married life, in addition to her primary job as full time mom and homemaker, Mary has participated in various volunteer activities, ranging from pro-life involvement and tutoring ESL to being a certified high school gymnastics judge. Joe, Andy, and Mary belong to St. John’s Church in Russellville, Arkansas, where their children attended grade school and where both Joe and Mary serve as Eucharistic Ministers to the sick.
Mary first learned of Father Emil’s work and that of APUFRAM in Honduras in 1996 when her oldest daughter, Maria, decided to spend a year volunteering at the mission after she graduated from college. Maria taught English at the Maximillian Kolbe High School in Flores from the summer of 1996 until the summer of 1997. She even met her future husband there when he went down for a three-week mission trip with a group from Baton Rouge. Both parents had the opportunity to visit Honduras while Maria was there. Mary visited in 1996, and Joe came with the twins in 1997 with a youth group from their church. One of the twins returned to the mission four times with his university group, and Mary has since been privileged to return, as well.While there in 1996, Mary met an orphaned first-year junior-high student, Juan Javier, in one of Maria’s classes. Her family chose to sponsor Juan and continued to do so until he was in the university. They still keep in touch with him; he even attended the wedding of their son and his wife in San Salvador in 2008. They have sponsored other children since Juan, and Mary had the privilege of visiting with one of them, Johely, during trips to the mission in 2007, 2008, and 2009. During two of these later trips Mary helped the sponsorship coordinator with the translation and preparation for mailing of the student Christmas letters to their padrinos (sponsors). Because her experience with the sponsorship program has been so positive, Mary wholeheartedly recommends it to others, noting that making a personal connection with a young person and watching as they grow and achieve their goals is very rewarding.
Mary Jo Kahl
Originally from Minnesota, Mary Jo resides in Winston-Salem, NC. Mary Jo and her late husband George have four children and five grandchildren. Mary Jo retired from North Carolina Baptist Hospital where she held various positions. She also taught at Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem. She is currently owner/manager of a Catholic Bookstore.
Karean VanEss Wagner
Karean began her spiritual journey towards APUFRAM with her local parish, St. Thomas the Apostle in Newton, WI. It was there that she helped to establish the youth group O.T.I.S. (Optimistic Teens Improving Society). Karean led many youth group trips to various mission sites within the United States. It was the experiences on these youth trips that led her to explore adult missions, and in 2007 she decided to make her first trip to Honduras. She has been on numerous mission trips as a volunteer, and has led adult groups in 2013 and 2014 with the help of her husband Nick. Karean and Nick currently sponsor two youths in Honduras and have had the opportunity to visit with them during their last visits to Honduras. The vision of Father Emil Cook and the children of Honduras are what keep her inspired to continue bringing others and have them experience the same blessings.
Karean has remained active in her local parish as well. She has been a Eucharistic minister at St. Thomas for over 10 years. She has been an active leader with the O.T.I.S. youth group for over 11 years and continues to lead junior and senior high school youth on yearly mission trips within the United States. She works with the Hispanic community in her parish and for over 10 years has played a vital part in their religious education classes. She is one of the teachers of their First Communion preparation classes. For her, it has been a blessing to work with the growing Latino community and youth at St. Thomas the Apostle for such a long time, and she plans on continuing to grow with both groups in the coming years.
In her personal life, Karean is currently married to Nick Wagner. Karean and Nick were united in Marriage in September 2012. The marriage was a surprise blessing, as Karean’s first husband, Jim, passed away unexpectedly in 2010. Karean and Nick each have four adult children. In 2013 Karean was blessed with her first grandson, and she loves spending time with him. Nick began taking mission trips with his now wife before they were married, and has continued to experience these trips with Karean ever since.
In her work life, Karean is the owner/operator of a small meat market located in Newton, WI. Karean and her first husband, Jim, purchased the business in 1992, and the business has been successful ever since. After Jim’s unexpected death Karean has continued to manage and run the plant with the help of two of her children, her husband Nick, and a great staff of employees. Her drive and determination help her to continue with this journey. Newton Meats is a meat processing facility that offers a retail store, wholesale route, and a slaughter facility. It has been in business for over 60 years.
While there he served for two years as a remote site director in La Barca. Will primarily worked on agricultural projects and as a translator for medical teams. While in Honduras he met and married his wife, Karla, and they now have four children.
Delmer was born and raised in Comayagua, Honduras. In January of 2001 he came to APUFRAMto complete his secondary school. He then studied Social Work at the National University of Honduras in Tegucigalpa. After graduation, he worked in several social worker positions including employment with APUFRAM. In 2016, Delmer met his wife Sarah and moved to the United States to be with her in Memphis, Tennessee where they currently reside. Delmer joined the Board in January 2022 and looks forward to working with APUFRAM International to help the people of Honduras.
Rob’s connection with APUFRAM International begins with being a long time resident of Fr. Emil’s home diocese of Salina, Kansas. He and hs wife, Maureen, live south of the small rural town of Solomon, Kansas where they raised their six children. Maureen and each of the kids are graduates (or soon will be) of Sacred Heart High School in Salina, the Alma Mater of Fr. Emil. .
Rob and Maureen have attended and/or sponsored Fr. Emil’s visits to Salina for many years. They have each visited the Honduras facilities with several of their children. Having the students and abandoned mother’s actively engaged in the work and spiritual life of APUFRAM’s programs clearly separates Fr. Emil’s mission from others. This encouragement of beneficiaries to become independent, productive members of society is a primary reason the Riordan’s actively support APUFRAM International.
After graduating from Kansas State University, Rob began his career as a CPA in a public accounting firm, He eventually became a National Bank Examiner for the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). His work provided many opportunities for travel throughout the United States and Internationally. (Primarily in Europe and the Middle East.) He eventually retired as the Deputy Chief Accountant for the OCC. Maureen is a Physical Therapist and continues to work at a nearby hospital.