GREEN BAY — Mary Sevcik’s eyes light up when she talks about her two children and four grandchildren. One of her favorite things in life is that group hug her four grandchildren, Miranda, Savannah, Morgan and Patrick, ages 15 to 21, are known for.
“All four of the kids have this thing. They all hug me at the same time. … They do this thing to me: ‘I love you more!’ ‘No, I love you more!’”
For Sevcik, life is all about family, and it comes in many forms: her own family, her parish family, and the family of friends she is blessed to surround herself with.
“I have such a wonderful network of friends and family that support me,” she said. St. Bernard has been the parish home to Mary and Ken Sevcik for 47 of their nearly 51 years of marriage.
For many of those 47 years, she has been a regular volunteer, first at St. Bernard School, which both of their children, Chad and Jenny, attended, and then later in many parish endeavors.
With a quiet thoroughness and determination, the self-described “worker bee” has been a driving force as chairperson and co-chair of the parish Altar and Rosary Society’s annual “Holiday Magic,” held each November at the Riverside Ballroom.
They raise about $10,000 each year, she said, which is used to pay for the parish’s Communion bread and wine, liturgical linens, vessels and vestments. It also helps fund scholarships to St. Bernard School and religious education programs. The society also makes donations to the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in Manitowoc and the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross in Bay Settlement.
Sevcik also helps organize another popular event hosted by the Altar and Rosary Society, the annual “Ladies Night Out.”
The dinner and program, this year on Wednesday, May 15, at Wally’s Spot, is themed “An Evening to Remember: We’ll Show You How,” and will feature a speaker on memory care from the Aging and Disability Resource Center.
Sevcik had a 20-year career in banking, deciding to retire early at age 50 when her husband retired from Proctor & Gamble. In her last position, she was vice president of operations and security with M & I Bank.
Early in her career she went back to school to earn an associate’s degree in accounting from the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. That degree has also helped her in parish activities, most notably, counting the weekend collections, which she has done since retiring.
An early retirement also gave her the time to give back to the Green Bay community itself. “I’ve been working the election polls about 20 years,” she said. Election days are 14 hours long for poll workers. “I just think it’s just something nice to do that’s patriotic,” she said.
In addition, for the past four years she’s distributed absentee ballots at area nursing homes and assisted living centers.
Sevcik has also played an integral part in her parish’s outreach into the community. As a member of the Social Justice and Human Concerns Committee, for 17 years she organized meals provided by the parish to the New Community Shelter. She just gave up that role last December.
“It’s such a good feeling when you’ve helped somebody and given them something to eat,” she said. For years she also organized the parish Seder meal, held the Wednesday before Easter.
Sevcik met her husband Ken in first grade at Holy Rosary School in Kewaunee. “In fourth grade I told everyone I was going to marry him,” she recalled, though they didn’t start dating until the spring of their senior year. They were married two years later on July 6, 1968. The couple was honored by the parish Knights of Columbus #10243 as the 2017 “Family of the Year.”
One of the great memories they share is a trip to Italy they took along with her husband’s sister in 1999, shortly after retiring. They attended a papal audience and also a Mass celebrated by St. John Paul II.
“I just had tears running down my face and I didn’t even know that,” she said.
The Virgin Mary also “is definitely special to me,” she added. “I love to go out to the Shrine (of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion). I kneel by Mary and look up at her, and it’s as if she sees right into my soul. It’s such a connection.”
Sevcik credits her parents, Laura and the late Arnie Hessel, with instilling in her a love for parish community. “Church was always important to us,” she said.
Her own daughter, Jenny Kennedy, is among the younger people who are now involved in the Altar and Rosary Society, and she said she hopes more young people join.