Monday, July 04, 2005

Upon the occasion ...

... of the retirement of Mary Etta Heggie, friend, teacher, mentor, neighbor, godmother to my children
For conceiving and developing the Grace Church School curriculum, a unique and creative approach to Christian Education for children. For serving as an advisor to other congregations on the subject of Christian Education. For heading the Diocesan Christian Education Committee. And for the ability to get anyone to volunteer at least once to teach Sunday school (“For just one session,” I promise.) and showing all of us myriad of uses for toilet paper rolls and cotton balls.

For serving as head of a committee that bestowed grants to projects performing outreach in the diocese such as Episcopal City Mission. For organizing groups to attend the birthday parties at the Youth Detention Center so that every child there feels special. For offering us the opportunity to help those teenagers in need with the Mitten Tree at Christmas.

For teaching our children to pray The Lord’s Prayer, recite The Nicene Creed, and sing “This Little Light of Mine.” For caressing our babies, remembering every child’s name, attending every christening, and loving each individually, for providing and sustaining the gift of joy and wonder in all God’s works. For teaching our children that sometimes the Baby Jesus and poor children need a stuffed animal when they are lonely and frightened.

For guiding almost 200 young people through confirmation classes starting in 1986. When Grace children were presented by Mary Etta, they understood the rite of confirmation. When confirmation moved to the Cathedral, so did Mary Etta’s reputation for teaching and loving her confirmands. She showed her love through discipline – “overnighters” at the Cathedral, learning Stations of the Cross, watching Stars Wars movies, attending Ash Wednesday, and sitting through long confirmation services. For supporting those same children through Rite 13 and for continuing to love our teenagers.

For leading mission trips for 10 years. For nurturing 125 youth and chaperones through building homes – hammering, sawing, siding, roofing and shingling – and making them beautiful – painting, raking, sweeping, digging, carting, seeding, and planting for others. For encouraging our teens to be the face of Christ to others and showing them the true meaning of the Lord’s work to the service of others.

For introducing Grace’s youth to the rules of summer softball: fun, fellowship, and Christ first; competition and winning, way down the line. For teaching the kids and their parents to keep their chins up even when the Presbyterians and the Baptists whomped on us. For giving many of our children the love of softball and providing them with their first experience of hitting a baseball.

For bringing other experiences, religions, and traditions to Grace. For Ukrainian eggs, for marbled paper, for bagpipes on St. Andrew’s Day. For serving Seder dinners and constructing Advent wreaths that adorn our tables each year.

For feeding the hungry at Christ Church Cathedral’s homeless shelter, for being fearless in every nook and cranny of that kitchen. And after the shelter closed, she continued to gather us one Sunday a month to feed the hungry at Trinity Church for its Hot Lunch Food Program. For teaching us how to bake casserole dishes that could feed the masses.

For reaching out to the Somali Bantu refugees; loving, welcoming these newcomers to St. Louis; for visiting them, teaching them, and embracing them in their new lives, in their new homes. For collecting and sorting clothes and used household items, delighting in the bewildered looks when visitors came to her office to see her under an avalanche used items she would spiff up and sort for the refugees.

For bringing the labyrinth to the spiritual life of Grace and teaching us to walk in prayer. For perpetuating the Prayer Group, for showing us all the power and joy of prayer.

For starting the Women’s Study group for young mothers, who valued her wisdom, humor, and practical ideas to parenting. For nurturing these women with a deep commitment to family and to each other.

For serving as a Christian example of marriage and motherhood. For placing her family as the priority in her life and showing us to do likewise. For opening her heart and making us part of her family. For being the best wife and mother 4 men could ever be lucky enough to have and the best grandmother to her two precious grandchildren.

For putting her actions into words, by sharing her time and talents with Grace Church, Kirkwood, and showing us that we could and should do likewise.


At 2:37 PM, Blogger Angela said...

Amazing. Completely amazing!


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