“One year into the job, I realized God placed me here,” said Jane Stokes, the secretary in the religious education department in St. Catharine of Siena Parish, Seaside Park. “It’s so gratifying. The rewards outweigh the work.”
Now in her eighth year, Stokes does more than handle the phones and paperwork necessary to run the 250-child program.
Initially she began teaching its first grade students, but now instructs its second grade children preparing to receive First Holy Communion. Additionally, she is a member of the team which instructs adults seeking to join the Church.
Renee Casadonte, coordinator of religious education, values Stokes’ contributions to the program.
“She passes on the faith. She’s wonderful with the kids,” Casadonte exclaimed. “It’s amazing she gives her time with all the work that’s necessary to teach them in a sacramental year.
“The kids love to see her working here,” the coordinator continued. “It’s adorable. She attends Mass every week at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, and all the kids run up and hug her. They know she is part of the parish.”
Stokes also assists with the program’s special needs children, Casadonte noted, “and she’s here for Confirmation Day even though she doesn’t have to be. She helps us with the records and the children’s certificates.”
“It’s very important for whomever comes in, for whatever reason, to see our smiling faces,” Stokes maintained. “We learn how important it is, how interacting with people is sometimes positive and rosy, and sometimes certainly not.
“As [pastor] Father John [Ruffo] always says, ‘It’s not a job, it’s a ministry,’” Stokes said. “Every day it’s a different story, ever changing.”[[In-content Ad]]