She leaves a mark by cleaning altar linens

Soborowicz has washed and ironed church linens at St. Paul Parish since 1989

PLAINFIELD — Marlene Soborowicz knows that God has plans for her to contribute to church life at St. Paul Parish in Plainfield, and she takes that role very seriously.

Soborowicz, 78, and her husband, Frank, 82, both are active volunteers. Among her many duties, Marlene keeps the parish linens laundered, ironed and fresh-looking.

Your Catholic Neighbor: Marlene Soborowicz (Ron Felten | For The Compass)

Frank helped build the new church building after the couple had moved to this area in 1989. He also serves with the Knights of Columbus and is a sacristan.

Together, they serve as ushers and work on trimming and landscaping in the parish yard.

“There are other things we would like to do to help out even more, but we live so far away,” Soborowicz said. They drive a 40-mile roundtrip to St. Paul Church from their home in Wisconsin Rapids.

The couple previously lived in Illinois and came up to this area for visits. They liked it so much they moved to Wisconsin Rapids in 1989. Their neighbors went to St. Paul’s and introduced them to the parish.

“It’s a family-type church like the one we went to in Illinois,” Soborowicz said. Although they visited other parishes closer to their home, none matched the spirit that they were looking for.

“We kept going back to St. Paul’s,” Soborowicz said. “It must be a God thing. That’s where we feel at home. That’s why we drive 20 miles one way and 20 miles back.” She said that when her adult children visit, they also like St. Paul’s, the songs that are sung there and the fact that they are made to feel so welcome.

Soborowicz has a garden at home that features a statue of St. Francis of Assisi. She likes to make the plantings at the parish look inviting and cheerful, as well. “I do all the summer plantings,” she said. “I use bright colors like yellows and reds. It makes the church look good, and it’s a welcome to people.”

At her parish in Illinois, Soborowicz was trained in how they liked the linens used during Mass to be laundered, ironed and folded, particularly for the corporal used during Communion and the purificators used to wipe the rims of the cups. “That was a little bit of a challenge, but I got it,” she said.

So when she first visited St. Paul’s, the linens were something she noticed right away. No one had been taking care of them regularly, and they were somewhat wrinkled and dingy-looking, she said.

“I thought, ‘The good Lord probably wouldn’t like that,’” she said.

She volunteered to take over and has been taking care of the linens now for almost 28 years. “The linens on the altar need to be nice and clean and a little crispy,” she said. “I’ve got to do it. It’s helping out the parish. It gives me a good feeling. I feel I’m doing my part to keep the good Lord’s house going and looking good inside and out.”

She’s even come up with her own laundry “concoction” to easily remove lipstick from the cup purificators.

“The good Lord wants me to do (the laundry),” she said. “I feel like I’m part of the Mass. I do it for my church family.”

Soborowicz is a cancer survivor, and she thinks it’s important to keep contributing. “Right now, we don’t have a regular priest or deacon” at St. Paul’s, she said. “People of the parish have to get together and keep things going. The good Lord wants me to do this for a reason. People say the linens always look so clean and crisp. That, to me, is a compliment. I’m putting nice, clean napkins on the Lord’s table.”

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Your Catholic Neighbor
Name: Marlene Soborowicz
Parish: St. Paul, Plainfield
Age: 78
Favorite saints: Jude and Francis of Assisi
Words to live by: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

  • Cathy Diehl

    What is your concoction for lipstick stains, if you don’t mind sharing. I haven’t found anything that works very well. I too am laundering altar linens. Thank You