Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Great Cloud of Witnesses

Inside St. Raphael Catholic Church
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb 12:1-2

I became a daily communicant the fall of 1997 when our oldest son started Kindergarten at St. Raphael School. Since the children had to be there at 7:55 am, I started attending the 8 am Mass.

Ginny Hansen was the faithful sacristan. She trained my older boys to serve daily Mass. She trained many children to serve Mass. She had been in the military and brought discipline and order to our church. She was a constant, reliable presence. So were many others, like Claire Schatz who lead the rosary after each mass. I remember thinking to myself, “boy, that will get you straight to heaven.” Claire's daughter Jane Winstead has taken "Claire's pew" and now often leads the same beautiful prayers. Rose Grado sat behind Claire and started the tradition of saying the Divine Mercy Chaplet after the Rosary. Fr. Ken Malley gave her permission to do so.

An 80+ year old lady named Mary Marcinko, sat in the front left side.  She had to sit close because she used a walker and couldn’t get around very easily. Just behind her were Ruth and Don Mattick, always fixing something, tidying something, making the church nicer. Marcella and George Rankin, Kay Yennie, Ursula Abner, Fanny Abad, Winnie Young and Chris Pelletier were somewhere in the middle. Deacon Joe Grote  often came in before going to his job at St. John Vianney Catholic Church. 

Mr. & Mrs Jerry Walsh sat in the last pew on the right, near Matt Matsumoto. James and Suzanne Flatley sat on the left back side. Mr. Flatley and Mr. Walsh were unofficial door holders when we all left mass. They would always shoot the breeze with  Bob Morley and his wife Irene. Helen Bishop sat front and left. She sometimes brought her elderly husband, Ken. Beatriz Crespo and Truus Stuimer usually sat on the right. Truus was sometimes accompanied by her local daughter Marja Beaufait and her out of town daughter Joanne Stuimer,  (Marja’s twin.) Truus always had a smile. Ed and Terri Hamm sat middle to front right. They had an easy “commute,”--they just walked across the street from their condo. This made it possible for Ed to oversee and help out with all of the building of the new church.

 With all my babies, I was perpetually in the cry room.

I was often joined by Bonnie Condon, Lisa Richard, Donna Condon, Annina Plummer and Marybeth Finster. We always joked about how many sons we had between us (Musselman 4, Condon 4, Condon 2, Richard 5, Plummer 4+). We prayed that some of them would become priests.

At first I was there with just a new born and a toddler and then with 3 more babies as the years passed. Mrs. Flatley knitted baby bonnets for my children. Dolores Smith and Maggie Moren and Bernadette Bailey were the first to see each of the infants, at 8 am mass. Charlotte Overby and Lynn Douglas always had a kind word.

Over the years I have had to shift to 6:45 am Mass in order to get all the kids out to school on time. We too had our own nice circle of a dozen or so; Della Uber, Joan Priest, Joan Malone, Winnie Young, Chris Youmans, Matt Matsumoto, Michael Fay, Scott Matirne, John Forney, Terri Hamm, Helene Payne, Kathy Guckenberger and Rosemary Early. But it was smaller and quieter and certainly darker. We all dashed out quicker to get on with our day.

Msgr Caverly has been the constant presence, presider and priest through these many years. A great shepherd to us all.

Now many of these wonderful friends are with the Lord. I was sad to hear that Truus Stuimer passed away January 20th, but not really. She is welcomed by so many good friends from St. Raphael and the 8 am Mass. We are indeed surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses. Let those of us here on earth, persevere in running the race set before us with our eyes fixed on Jesus.

A partial listing of daily Communicants that have gone before us:

Claire Schatz March 12, 1999
Mary Marcinko September 8, 2002
Suzanne Flatley September 16, 2007
Helen Bishop March 15, 2007
Edward Hamm January 11, 2008
Dorothy Santacaterina December 30, 2008
Ginny Hansen March 6, 2010
Truus Stuimer January 20, 2011

May these and all of the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God, Rest in Peace. Amen.


  1. This is really a wonderful piece, very touching. I always wondered where you were in the morning--hanging out with the saints!

  2. Julie,

    Thank you so much for sharing. Reading your blog made me realize how much I look forward to my daily mass. My days are so much more centered when I begin my day with mass and my relationship with our lord has blossomed as a result. Thanks again.