Parishioners since 1987, Paul and Marianne Williams have seen a lot at St. Francis. Even before they came to St. Francis, they remembered being inspired by those in the Quaker community in Middlesex, NJ, where they lived. “They showed us a lot about service to the poor and vulnerable. It was very inspiring, and their example got us inspired to live out the gospel by working for justice and caring for the less fortunate,” says Paul.
Joining St. Francis when Father David McBriar was pastor, they were equally impressed with his appeal to the parishioners to have an ‘outward view’ and live the gospel outside the walls of St. Francis for those in need. When Father David said, ”What can we do for the city of Raleigh?” it was a clarion call for the Williamses to work with people in their new parish for the common good. Marianne says, “The call to acknowledge God’s unconditional love helps us respond to love God’s children, wherever they may be.”
Marianne and Paul are deeply involved in the Justice and Peace ministries at the parish. Marianne is a visitor for St. Vincent de Paul, is on the housing issue advocacy team, and has been deeply involved with Passage Home since its inception. Paul is on the racial equity team and volunteers with Meals on Wheels of Durham. He also promotes the ‘Just Faith’ racial justice programs to inform and educate people about racial equity issues. Both are involved in One Wake, a non-partisan, multi-racial, multi-issue group of religious congregations in Wake County that boasts over 50 faith communities as members; yet, St. Francis is the only Catholic Church involved with it as a ministry.
When asked how to get started in ministry, they counsel others to “trust in God if you feel called to serve in a particular ministry.” As Marianne says, “If you feel even slightly drawn to any of the ministries, pray to the Holy Spirit and speak to someone in that ministry; then just ‘jump in’!” Paul agrees, “Once you volunteer one or two times, you can see it’s doable; there are so many good people at St. Francis who support serving others. You never feel like you’re in it alone. You will get more out of it than what you put into it.”