To serve the Lord is a ‘whole different feeling’

By Jeff Kurowski | The Compass | January 19, 2022

The McFarlanes welcome parish and community volunteer opportunities

Your Catholic Neighbors: Steve and Mary Anne McFarlane (Jeff Kurowski | The Compass)

FLINTVILLE — Steve and Mary Anne McFarlane live only a half-mile away from SS. Edward and Isidore Church. Good thing, considering how much they enjoy parish ministries and volunteer opportunities.

“I like serving the Lord,” said Mary Anne. “Fr. (Dave) Hoffman (pastor) is awesome. He makes it so easy to volunteer. The staff is more than awesome. Everybody is so loving here and caring. It’s easy to volunteer when you have people who are there for you if you need them.”

Last summer, the couple took on a new parish leadership venture. They chaired the annual Harvest Fest in August, succeeding Jim and Jan Peters, who led the event for more than 40 years.

“I don’t know how they did it. They were a hard act to follow,” said Steve. “(The event) is not about (raising) money. It’s a social gathering, especially in 2021. We had to reinvent Harvest Fest a little bit. We did pretty well.”

Steve grew up on Green Bay’s west side as a member of St. Joseph Parish. When he was a high school sophomore, he opened a motorcycle shop with a business partner. He worked at various motorcycle shops, was a parts person at a few junkyards and, from 1971 to 1994, handled the gas at Lambeau Field, including for the stoves in the concession stands.

“I was employed all over the place,” he said with a laugh.

Steve worked at Robinson Metal Inc. in De Pere before embarking on a 30-year career at Wisconsin Public Service (WPS), where he was their license holder for heating and cooling. He retired from WPS in 2016, but still does heating and cooling, including underground utility work.

“Here I am today, still working out in the cold,” he said. “I’m ‘semi-retired.’”

Mary Anne is a native of Chicago, her father’s hometown. Her mother was from Green Bay. The family moved to northeast Wisconsin when Mary Anne was 13. They joined St. Stanislaus Parish in Hofa Park.

“My mom (Beverly Misewitch) was an inspiration to all her children,” said Mary Anne. “She was very giving of her time, knitting and in whatever she did to help other people.”

She added that her three sisters have also played an important role in her spiritual journey.

Mary Anne is thankful that she was self-employed for many years, so she could help care for her mother, who died in 2014. Mary Anne’s work included building more than 70,000 meter bars for outdoor gas meters and doing embroidery jobs by machine for 15 years.

The couple met in 1981 and were married on April 28, 1984. They joined SS. Edward and Isidore in 1993, when they moved to Flintville. Mary Anne’s ministry involvement began with an invitation.

“All it takes is for that one person to ask if you would help, and you are thinking, ‘I don’t know if I can do this, but I will try,’” she said. “Being a eucharistic minister (extraordinary minister of holy Communion) was the first thing. June Ingold (retired pastoral associate) asked me.”

Sixteen years ago, Mary Anne was invited to serve in another ministry. Donna Pamperin asked her to teach Christian formation (religious education). She accepted, but asking if she could teach the young children.

“They are my favorite. I love hearing what they think,” she said. “I try to start with them as first graders. if it’s possible. I will graduate (move with the class) with them through fifth grade and then start over.”

“Some are now teenagers, or married with families, and they run into church and give her a big hug,” said Steve.

Mary Anne also volunteers for the parish rummage sale and holiday craft sale. She is also part of the group that makes prayer shawls and baptismal blankets.

“Those prayer shawls have been flying off the shelf, with everyone who has been getting sick,” she said. “We have an excellent group of ladies, but we still need more help.”

Three years after the McFarlanes joined the parish, SS. Edward and Isidore broke ground on the current church building. Upon completion, Steve helped move items to the new kitchen. He brought two pallet jacks to make the job easier. The late Fr. Dave Kasperek, pastor at the time, hinted that the tool was “handy to have around,” so Steve left one at the church. He later found out that it was stored under the altar, he shared with a laugh.

He was also joined by Fr. Kasperek for a memorable evening maintenance project. Steve discovered that the mechanism for a church door was installed backwards. He decided to fix it.

“I started at 9 p.m. and at around 10 p.m. I hear this voice behind me say, ‘What are you doing?’” he said. “It was Fr. Dave (Kasperek).”

The pastor mentioned issues with other church doors.

“By the time it hit midnight, we had adjusted every door in the place,” said Steve.

In 1996, Steve, who also serves as an usher at SS. Edward and Isidore, joined Knights of Columbus Council #10260 and became grand knight for the first of three separate stints in 1998. He currently serves as financial secretary and works on the booyah sales. The council recently sold 350 gallons during a drive-thru sale to raise $5,800.

Steve’s volunteerism in the community includes serving as a house captain for Rebuilding Together of Greater Green Bay, a housing organization; as “chief cook and bottle washer” at New Community Shelter in Green Bay; and as a board member and executive and finance committee member for the Brown County United Way.

“We (United Way) just did a blanket drive at Lambeau Field,” he said. “I have about 900 blankets in the back of one of my service trucks.”

The goal for Steve and Mary Anne is to not only to give their time, but to encourage other people to become involved, especially in parish opportunities.

“As long as people are having fun in what they do, it seems as though you can grow those numbers,” said Steve.

“You try to make them a part of something,” said Mary Anne. “I don’t know if everyone understands what it’s like to serve the Lord. It’s a whole different feeling. It’s not about me. It’s about God, your faith and helping people.”

Names: Steve and Mary Anne McFarlane
Parish: SS. Edward and Isidore, Flintville
Ages: Steve, 63, and Mary Anne, 64
Favorite Saint: Blessed Mother (Mary Anne)
Words to live by: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things” (Phil 4:8).

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