As the beautiful 100th anniversary celebration lingers in our hearts and minds, I thought it fitting to ask members of our community to share the richness of “their” OLPH. Throughout the summer, this column will highlight these wonderful voices as we live our 100th year as a parish family, and as we try to drink more deeply of the wonder that is OLPH Church and School. I invite you to write and submit something to me ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) : a poem, a memory, a story, a glimpse of the communal life we have been sharing as the Body of Christ here in the Maple Shade. God bless you!
First up, is our beloved DRE, Mrs. Sherri Hunkins:
“I am a graduate of Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, the parent of four sons who attended OLPH, a privileged former member of the Faculty, and the present DRE. Because of this unique combination, my blessings are many and my feelings for this place that I call “HOME” run deep.
“Once upon a time my parents, like so many of you, had dreams for their children. They desired for us to be rooted in the faith that had sustained them through all the ups and downs that life can present. I was fortunate to be one of the many who received an excellent education at OLPH, but that was only a piece of what we received. We learned how to live our faith because we witnessed the Gospel message being lived and shared every day.
“Many years later, it was my husband and I standing at the doors of OLPH because we shared the same dream for our sons. We wanted to give them the gift of a Catholic Education and that gift permeates their beings today.
“Once all four of the boys were in school, God extended an invitation to my heart to join the faculty. My “YES” was a decision that I have never regretted making. As a teacher, I felt so blessed to be able to come to work every day and to love where I worked and the people that I ministered with. I had the privilege of working beside the most generous, caring, and talented women and men that I know. I got to take part in the miracle of life and learning every day!
“Then three years ago God invited me to widen the circle of my ministry and become the DRE. My heart has forever been blessed by the families and Catechists I have worked with in the PREP program. I consider myself a graced woman because of my experiences with each and every one of you.
“Well, the God of surprises has been tapping on the door of my heart with a new invitation these days and it requires that I walk with God into the unknown. It also means that I will be leaving my position as the DRE as of June 30th. Please know that I may be leaving full-time ministry at OLPH, but OLPH can never leave me. Your stories, faces, and love will live on in my heart. Please pray for me and know that I am praying for you, always.”
What a beautiful and deep reflection of generous service to our parish family! We are so grateful for Sherri’s kind and selfless witness by teaching others to live their precious faith. It is bittersweet to hear of this new crossroads in her life, and yet reassuring that OLPH is “home.”
In the coming weeks, I will be able to share more fully how we have been working in conjunction with another parish to hire a collaborative Director of Faith Formation. This position will include not only the religious education of children (aka PREP) but also dynamic adult formation offerings. We are seeking to engage the whole family in growing and deepening their faith in Christ. Stay tuned!
With my blessing,