Susan Laielli – Naples –
No one wants to get up early enough to make the donuts, but Marcia McShane will gladly hand you one with a warm smile after Sunday morning Masses at St. Ann Parish in Naples, as part of her new duties as an assistant on the social committee.
When asking around the Parish which volunteers are making it happen for the large Southwest Florida Church, you’ll get plenty of names, almost too many to choose only one.
Before her new duties on the social committee, Marcia was mostly behind the scenes, setting up or cleaning up after the St. Patrick’s Day Party or the Back-to-School Picnic. Often, she can be found moving books for the Director of Religious Education at the beginning and end of a year, understanding the many needs of educators, since she is a retired kindergarten teacher.
It’s not simply what Marcia does at St. Ann that makes her a standout, but it’s how she came to join the Parish and volunteer there, before eventually becoming a Catholic; that is frankly just as interesting.
Both Marcia and her husband Paul are admittedly children of inter-faith marriages from the 1940’s and 50’s, and when they married that history would continue, but the animosities did not.
“I learned early on love is about the person – my husband was Catholic, and I was not,” said Marcia. “I grew up on military bases in several states and attended all types of churches and chapels, including one in Maryland where Annie Glenn, the wife of astronaut John Glenn, was my Bible School teacher.”
Before they would become world renowned astronauts John Glenn, Alan Shepard, and Gus Grissom would train at a Navy test pilot school with Marcia’s father, and the group would eventually become golfing buddies.
During their 38 year marriage, Marcia and Paul would be blessed with two sons and continued to attend various Churches of all denominations in the north to worship our Lord. It wasn’t until moving to Naples fulltime after retiring that the couple again began searching for a Church, when something really clicked for Marcia at St. Ann Parish.
“The people are very welcoming, and I love the family values, the history, and traditions of the Catholic Church,” said Marcia smiling.
After volunteering for quite some time in the Parish, Marcia decided it was time to take the next step and become Catholic, which almost did not happen at this year’s Easter Vigil.
On Good Friday, just one day before the Easter Vigil, Marcia’s father would suffer a heart attack and need to be rushed to a Naples hospital. She would spend the next 24 hours unsure of his outcome, and uncertain if she would become Catholic.
“I almost became a three-year Catholic student of the faith, and one of Ms. Cybil’s eternal students,” she recalls, referring to the Director of Religious Education.
The doctor told her moments before the Easter Vigil started that her father was stable, offering her the comfort to leave and try to make the Mass. She would make it just in time.
Volunteers in Diocese of Venice Catholic Churches are special people, acting on their faith, offering their time and resources to get a job done, and expecting nothing in return.
When asked what her motto would be if she had one, Marcia responded in perfect kindergarten teacher fashion, “Remember the book by Watty Piper, “The Little Engine that Could” – my motto would be, ‘I think I can!’”