Bill Laxton, a long-time volunteer at St. Francis, remembers when it all began. “I made a mistake,” he says laughing, “I told Father Mark Reamer, ‘If there’s anything you ever need, let me know.’ About a month later, Father Mark called saying, ‘Remember when you asked if I ever need anything? I’d like you to chair the (Phase V) building committee.’” Even though this was, as he says, “The most work I have done for the parish,” it isn’t the only thing. Bill has been on the Justice and Peace Advisory Committee, chairing the tithe committee, which also led to his appointment to the Finance Council. “At the time,” he recalls, “the pastor was deciding who got the 10% tithe, so he set up a committee to analyze requests. We would meet 4-5 times yearly to decide where the ‘tithe money’ goes from the Justice and Peace tithe.”
Over the years, Justice and Peace started or supported many familiar local service providers from Oak City Cares, the Hispanic Center from Catholic Parish Outreach, the St. Francis St. Vincent de Paul Society, and many others. Bill says service was ‘grilled into him’ since he was an altar server as a second grader. Raised Catholic, he says, “My faith drives my whole life, even my work life.” “You can do ministry in a work situation in how you act and by the example you provide of Christianity.” Even though faith has driven his whole life, Bill emphasized that it grew when he joined St. Francis.
What impressed Bill was the Franciscan philosophy and how Father David McBriar often preached about reaching out to the less fortunate in Raleigh and Wake. “It became important as to what David set as a philosophy,” he remembers. “Today, we are a caring community in how we look out for each other and those beyond our community because of that philosophy.” He adds, “It came from the inspirational leadership of the priests we have had throughout the life of the parish.”
When asked about getting involved in the parish, Bill emphasizes the importance of it for the community and the individual parishioners, “Some of our best friends are people we met through St. Francis.” He stresses the importance of getting involved with your children as an excellent way to meet others while emphasizing the importance of the faith community to your kids, “It helps to show kids how to serve and builds a foundation for them.” “The stronger we are as a parish,” says Bill, “the stronger we can be in helping others in the community.”