“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” ~ Proverbs 16:3
A story of success by Christine Stolf
Christine Stolf joined St. Margaret parish in 2011 and quickly went to work volunteering. Today she is a co-chair of the Grief Share Ministry and teaches a Bible study class in Spring and Fall. She teaches the 8th grade class for our Parish School of Religion, and participates in Vacation Bible School, Jr. Youth Ministry, and Altar Servers with her granddaughter, Keira. Family is important to her and grateful for all the graces and blessings I have received through her life especially those since becoming a parishioners of St. Margaret. Here is her story:
May 13, 2023, holds a significant place in my life and my heart. That day I graduated from Loyola Institute of Ministry (LIM) at Loyola University in New Orleans. I cannot believe that 3 years went by so fast. When I started the program, I wanted only information, and it never occurred to me that this day would come.
Graduation Day: In the morning the usual cap and gown ceremony went off without a hitch. The guest-speaker was Jon Batiste, a nationally recognized New Orleanian, musician, singer, songwriter, composer, bandleader, and television personality. His speech was short and sweet, but one thing he said stayed with me, “Whatever you do in this world, do it with empathy.” These words are words I am glad I and all the other people graduating heard. Hopefully, we will follow his advice and utilize empathy in all we do. Of course, Jon Batiste could not pass up the opportunity to play the piano. The song he chose made us all laugh and sing along, “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”
Then, for me, the best part of the day came at 4:00PM as the Vigil Mass and Missioning Ceremony was celebrated in the Ignatius Chapel on campus. All the LIM graduates from across the country and the world attended. There was a special reverence in the ceremony itself. Four of the graduates were asked to bring a small cup of 3-4 ounces of water, each from the four compass points of the world: north, south, east, and west. I had the privilege and honor of bringing water from the south. The graduates’ containers of water were combined into one receptacle, blessed, and used to bless everyone attending the Mass. At the end of the ceremony each of the four of us went back to the receptacle and refilled our containers with the blessed water. This water was a reminder to all of us of our Baptismal promises. This intimate setting made for a very moving ceremony. Just prior to the offering, each graduate received a hand towel imprinted with a picture of Jesus washing someone’s feet, and under the picture was a quote from the Gospel of John which read, “Do what I have done.” This towel was to remind us of our ministerial call to all people. The one very unusual thing about this day was the way the Mass ended. Instead of processing out normally, the two priests picked up Mardi Gras colored umbrellas and “second lined” their way out of the chapel! I think my mouth fell open in total surprise. Only in New Orleans!
Afterwards a reception was held for the graduates and our families where we each had the opportunity to converse with and/or take pictures with some of our professors. Each graduate was able to take a container of blessed water home. What an end to a beautiful spring day, realizing and appreciating that all this was made possible through God and all for His glory.
I am so grateful for the financial and spiritual support that the staff and parishioners of St. Margaret provided throughout my school journey. There are too many individuals to mention, however, special thanks to Fr. Jamin and Fr. Paul for helping with my research, answering my multiple emails, and reading my papers. This journey was filled with many ups and downs, yet I always felt God was in control and guided me along his planned path.
Thank you for the opportunity!