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Mary Cockrill

You can find Mary Cockrill on Wednesdays during the school year “MC’ing” (Master of Ceremony) at the school Mass with her ‘partner in crime’ Joanie Madormo. As usual, the Mass goes off without a hitch, even when Father Jim is saying the Mass. However, that’s only a tiny glimpse into all Mary does at St. Francis. 

Mary was at a different parish when she first came to Raleigh. She says, “I couldn’t get my foot in the door as a volunteer.” She often came to St. Francis at that time but felt like she was ‘cheating’ on the other parish where she was a member. When her sister visited, they attended Mass at St. Francis, and she gave her a campus tour. Her sister admonished her, saying, “Mary Catherine, why aren’t you attending Church here regularly? The Holy Spirit is all over this place.” She switched to St. Francis; the parish wasn’t shy about seeking her out to volunteer. Mary is a Eucharistic Minister (EM) for the homebound, a Secular Franciscan, and a co-lead with MaryLou Holloway at the Secular’s apostolate at Oak City Cares, on the RCIA team, and Master of Ceremony for the weekend and weekday masses; that only scratches the surface. 

Mary’s mother was one of the first women to volunteer as an EM when that option was opened up for women by the Church. Her mother’s example inspired Mary: “My mom taught me about Saint Francis and made me want to follow in his footsteps. She loved Saint Francis and taught me all about him.” Mary takes her inspiration from Matthew 25: ‘For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me…” “That is my guide in volunteering,” she says, “Jesus wants us to care for those who cannot care for themselves, those who are sick, homeless, or lonely. I see Christ in them. Society looks down on them, and that breaks my heart.” 

She finds her most personally rewarding work in interacting with the homebound. “The people I’ve met,” she says, “are why I do it. When I give communion to the homebound, I may be the one person they see all week, and I’m bringing them the most beautiful gift in the world.” Specifically, she says, “I go visit two women who live in a house of five a few minutes from me. They are close, and I call them ‘my girls’ and take care of them every week. I feel like I am doing what I am supposed to be doing when I see how happy they are to see me and see how much I love them back.”

Mary encourages people to find their niche at St. Francis. “Get on the website and look at ministries. Being part of service is important.” She suggests calling the leads to those ministries that interest you and shadowing or discussing the ministry with them. “Pick five or six to shadow, then choose where you want to go!” She cautions, though, that it is a bit addicting, “I want to do it all!”

Author: Mike Watson