By Julie DeKreon
The North Star Catholic
In this month of gratitude, we recognize that many of our greatest blessings come to us as people who love and accompany us throughout our lives. Stewards of the faith come in all ages and across all ministries, and they inspire us by their example of loving and following Christ in everyday life. This new column, “Saints Among Us,” is an initiative to celebrate our stewards all year round, whether they’re laity, staff members, priests, or religious, founding members or new to our communities, paid or unpaid for their efforts. As Christian stewards, we have a responsibility to steward our gifts wisely and to be grateful for all our blessings; however they come to us.
Janice Marsh, Jeanne Schachle, and Joyce Lamm are known at Sacred Heart Parish in Wasilla for their outstanding service and tireless work serving the community. These three sisters grew up in Anchorage, where they raised families and participated in local parishes. They now live in the Mat-Su Valley, where they continue to serve and bless their community.
As mothers, grandmothers, and sisters, these three women witness the Gospel values of love and fidelity to family and the domestic church. Janice, Jeanne, and Joyce are familiar participants in sacramental preparation programs as they guide their grandchildren in lessons and prayers and bring them to daily Mass, with the ultimate goal of celebrating the sacraments. This faith support for young parents is a priceless legacy in every family, as it is our privilege and responsibility to hand on the faith to the next generation.
Liturgy is at the heart of Janice, Jeanne, and Joyce’s service. The sisters are Ministers of Holy Communion beyond the church building, to serve the sick and homebound. As ministers of both sacrament and relationship, they come to know these men and women who are frail, dying, or alone. These three sisters continue to serve parishioners after they pass away, providing pastoral care as they shepherd the funeral, direct the post-funeral reception, and comfort the relatives.
Janice, Jeanne, and Joyce also coordinate the worship space’s art and environment throughout the changing liturgical seasons. The sisters collaborate and invite parishioners to the ministry to teach the traditions of the seasons and enrich the atmosphere of the Mass. Visitors to our parish for community events such as funerals, weddings, and school events are ushered into a space of peace and welcome to lift their hearts and minds to God.
The basic acts of seeing a need and responding with generosity define Janice, Jeanne, and Joyce’s work. On Monday nights each week, they lead a communion service to enrich the community’s prayer experience. Their considerate and reverent service as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion extends to the weekend Masses as they join the general ministry rotation as Lectors, EMOHC, music, and linen care. Their example of prayerful leadership touches nearly every aspect of liturgical life at Sacred Heart Parish.
Finally, our faith is lived when we move beyond parish boundaries and give back to the local community. Janice, Jeanne, and Joyce hold various roles in coordinating and presenting the annual ACTS (Adoration, Community, Theology, and Service) retreat. Their initial encounter with Christ energizes them to share and expand the experience for Catholics and Christians alike. Their wisdom, stories, and maternal care are constant gifts of the ancient faith preserved through generations of family love, and we are all the better for their humble willingness to love one another.
We walk among everyday saints, here and now in our parish communities. Anyone can nominate an everyday saint for the Saints Among Us column by contacting Anna Schulten at firstname.lastname@example.org.