In the wake of our Parish Mission when we heard such inspiring words about following Jesus in reaching out to those who are in need…it seems fitting that this month’s Kudos Corner shines the spotlight on Carolyn. She has truly been a bearer of Christ’s Light in this parish.
When she sees someone in need…she takes action. Perhaps this was first demonstrated in her many years as a Labor and Delivery Nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital where she ministered to the most vulnerable in times of crisis. Carolyn was also instrumental in helping to form Elizabeth Ministry here, an outreach to women who have suffered a miscarriage or are in need of help after having a baby. She also was the driving force behind establishing our Meal Ministry. According to Pastoral Associate Ken Meymann, “Through her time and efforts we now have a computer website we use to advertise and track meals that volunteers make for anyone who is recovering from an illness.”
Carolyn truly has a caring heart. According to Youth Minister Laura Hampel, “If she knows of someone who needs help, she does whatever she can do to help them – including coordinating carpools, making food, childcare, praying for them, you name it. She is a walking saint in my book, but she'll deny that. Carolyn can laugh at herself, and bring a smile to your face just by making eye contact with her. For many people, she's a compassionate shoulder to lean on in times of need.”
Perhaps Carolyn’s greatest impact has been felt through her dedicated involvement in the “Visi Retreat” for high school students which was started by Don Darnell 28 years ago. Carolyn has been involved from the very beginning. “I could never have started this project without her,” Darnell said. “She has been so involved because leading others to make the world a better place has always been a passion of hers. Is this not the ‘kingdom of God’ that Jesus speaks of? The Visi Retreat is where this “kingdom” has come to life for hundreds and hundreds of retreatants…thanks in part to Carolyn!” Mr. Darnell went on to say, “Carolyn is truly an example of a profoundly Christian woman. A few of the adjectives I could use to portray her include: compassionate, sympathetic, caring, empathetic, sensitive, warm, loving, kind, and charitable. She will take the time to assist anyone whenever possible. She always asks others if they need help with the tasks they are performing. She never says no when called upon to help, regardless of the task. She has been blessed with numerous talents and she obviously uses these to the fullest. More importantly though, she is willing to share these strengths with others, which is definitely a rare characteristic in this day and age.”
Carolyn was also crucial in keeping the Visi Retreat going after Mr. Darnell lost his wife to cancer…according to Sean Tierney, a Religion Teacher at Elder High School and veteran Core Team member of the retreat. “It was in 1997-98, I believe, when Carolyn approached me about coming on board to sustain the retreat. After Carol Darnell had fallen ill with cancer, the retreat was forced to take a hiatus. With the death of Carol, Carolyn knew Mr. Darnell would need time to grieve and adjust. Carolyn was concerned that the break would be permanent if someone didn't step in to help carry the load. So during a pancreatic cancer fundraising walk (which we were all walking to honor Carol Darnell), she asked me if I would be willing to step in to help with the leadership team. As a result, Tim (Mr. Darnell’s son) and I stepped in to spearhead the future retreats. So it was Carolyn's desire to maintain the retreat that motivated Tim and I to up our involvement.” As for Tim, he also speaks of Carolyn in glowing terms. “On the Visi Retreat, we try to teach the kids to live their lives as loving, compassionate, and humble servants. No one involved with this retreat does this better than Carolyn. She is a mentor and example for all of us.”
I can tell you…Sean and Tim’s involvement in this retreat has profoundly impacted hundreds of retreatants for the good. And as someone who helped organize the retreat for several years when I was Youth Minister, I can tell you that without Carolyn, I would have been lost!
Parishioner Kyle Isaack had the privilege of growing up down the street from the Menners. He knows Carolyn as a retreatant, college leader and now as a member of the core team. Kyle says, “Carolyn is such a beautiful person, full of love, peace, strong faith and great hugs. Carolyn and Don both bring so much peace to the world.”
And let’s not forget Carolyn’s husband Don who also has been a fixture of support and hard work in the behind-the-scenes workings of the retreat! Don and Carolyn are long-time parishioners and have raised three children who are now adults.
Kudos Corner thanks and honors Carolyn for her dedicated service and exemplary Christian example!