Photos by Jane WinsteadSlide show depicts some of the work of Maggie Moren at St. Raphael.
On Sunday, November 21, parishioner Maggie Moren will receive the St. Jude the Apostle Medal for distinguished and outstanding service in St. Raphael parish and the Diocese of St. Petersburg.
In August, when Maggie Moren received the letter from Bishop Lynch about the St. Jude the Apostle Medal, she read it, put it down on the dresser and left the room.
She was flabbergasted.
Why me? she wondered. What did I do? “It was a surreal, ‘take your breath away’ moment,” she says. “Wow!”
She went back and read the letter again. Still in awe, she told her husband, Rod.
Little of that initial shock has worn off. Three months later, she still questions why she should be singled out for her work in the parish.
“I’m just a little spoke in a big wheel,” she says. “Why me?”
Parishioners who know Maggie know exactly why. Maggie Moren is one of the busiest members of St. Raphael Parish, with numerous ministries that keep her moving in service to God almost full time since she retired in 2000.
Maggie is head sacristan, serves on the Liturgy Committee, is a reader and altar server at weekday and weekend Mass, is an extraordinary minister of holy communion, an organizer for 40 Days for Life and an active member of CCW, has served on the RCIA team and much more.
• The work of Maggie Moren
It is a volunteering habit honed during her years with Target stores as a manager in the human resources department. Target’s good neighbor policy allowed her to be involved in her communities in a big way, doing everything from planting flowers at schools to helping Habitat for Humanity build houses.
“It was an awesome part of my job,” she says.
But if her workplace volunteerism helped prepare her for her contributions today in St. Raphael parish, it was her professional experience with a solid work ethic that prepared her to handle the myriad activities in which she finds herself involved. She reflects on a question about her work background and what she does now.
It is the melding, she says, of the business ethic and the Christian ethic, admitting that she hadn’t really thought of it that way before. “I am using the blessing that God has given me.”
As a self-described Type A personality, Maggie Moren is given to spotting a task that needs to be done and just doing it – whether it’s planning and organizing CCW events or cleaning up and washing dishes afterward – or preparing the altar for Mass as the head sacristan.
It is the sacristan duty, though, that holds special appeal.
“I love being a sacristan,” she says, “You’re preparing for the Lord and you don’t want to make any mistakes.”
Then she relates how unsure she was when Monsignor Cavalry approached her about taking over the duties. It was one Sunday after Mass. She had remained in the pew praying. She felt a tap on her shoulder. It was Monsignor.
What did I do? she thought, wondering if, perhaps, there was a problem.
“He said that he would like me to be a sacristan. You can’t argue with Monsignor when he has his mind made up.” She wasn’t at all sure she would know what to do or do it well. Nevertheless, guided by the Holy Spirit, she took up the challenge.
“It was another ‘take your breath away’ moment.”
Her formative years in post-World War II Kansas City, MO, first at Christ the King Elementary School and later at Bishop Hogan High School undoubtedly shaped her strong faith. Schooled by nuns from the order Sisters of Charity, BVM, Maggie became devoted to Jesus Christ in elementary school and rarely wavered, though her energetic personality might have given the nuns some pause.
“I was a little brat,” she says, but adds that in those days of strict discipline you didn’t misbehave because the stern nuns in their traditional black and white habits didn’t put up with it. One time in college, though, she skipped biology class and stayed home. A nun called home to report the absence to her mother, who didn’t happen to be home at the time. Maggie answered. Oops!
Her return to school the next day was full of mea culpas.
One time the strong-willed Irish lass decided to stop going to Mass. That lasted for about three months, she says, then the pull of the Lord was too great and she returned to regular Mass. As a girl, she went with friends to other churches sometimes but never considered going to another denomination.
“We have the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Why would I want to go anywhere else?”
Not only does she revel in her faith, but she wants to share it with others. When she was on the RCIA team, the joy bubbled over.
“The treasures that the Church has – you want to share with others and you want them to love the Lord, and you hope you are helping them to do that.”
Still, there are perils for the devoted parishioner doing God’s will every day. It is possible, Maggie says, to become so busy that it cuts into your prayer time.
“You can be in the hands of Jesus but you have to talk to Him every day and be with Him every day.”
It’s why she attends daily Mass: “I need all the help I can get.”