UP Catholic 04 14 2017 E Edition Page 18

BY VICTORIA LAFAVE SPECIAL TO THE U.P. CATHOLIC We are the inside house staff of the Lord, Greg- ory Mitchell smiled as he described the ministry of ushering at his parish, St. Anne Church in Escanaba. At the Mass, we are going inside Gods house so in a way, we are like butlers to those entering Gods banquet, and it is an honor to be inside his house. Gregory Mitchell and his wife Pamela are two of more than 50 people who volunteer their time for the usher ministry at St. Anne Catholic Church in Escanaba. Mitchell has been ushering for 28 years, with 12 of those years spent as St. Anne usher coordi- nator. Historically, St. Anne Parish hasnt always had as many ushers. In May 2004, the parish had a doz- en men who volun- teered for the usher ministry. They were dedicated and focused on getting the job done, Mitchell said. However, then-Fa- ther [now Monsignor] Michael Steber had a vision that this usher ministry could pro- vide more jobs for people who wanted to be active and involved in service to their community. Mitchell recalled that Msgr. Steber posted a help-wanted notice, resulting in 21 people signing up for the parish ministry. He also provided the ushers with a training aid listing 27 points for ushers goals and duties. Today, this ministry has 58 volunteer men, wom- en, and teen ushers spread across four weekend Masses, with the usher teams for the Sunday eve- ning Youth Mass largely comprised of moms and dads and their families. Mitchell explained that all of the new usher re- cruits are required to attend classroom training. We share a meal and discuss Fathers 27 points. I always promise that I only need one hour and fifteen minutes, he smiled. However, we often go well beyond this time. When the Holy Spirit is present and we are sharing our witness and love of Christ, something wonderful happens. There is a new bond and a new love. We are blessed with recognition that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We ushers are tight! Why does St. Annes usher ministry have so many volun- teers? Put simply, Father Fran DeG- root, pastor of St. Anne Parish, smiled, People are willing to help out their church they just have to be invited. Deacon Terry Saunders, also of St. Anne Parish, said of the congregation: We have a zeal for God, and the volunteers have a zeal for this ministry, he said. All of our ushers have big smiles and are very friendly and wel- coming. THE USHERS' PRO-LIFE CAUSE Along with smiles on their faces, many of the ush- ers wear pro-life buttons on their blue blazers be- cause being pro-life is the common cause among the ushers. The buttons read: Stop The Real War. Abor- tion Kills 3,600 Baby Americans Every Day. Spon- sored by Ushers Uniting for Life. Silent No More. We ushers of St. Annes are uniting for life, Mitchell explained. We choose to be silent no more. With a deep com- passion, a radical solidarity with the vulnerable, a strong courage, and a readiness for public witness, we protect the unborn. To help cover their expenses, St. Annes ushers hold an annual Christ- mas wreath sale. Their expenses in- clude the blue blazers they wear, their monthly newsletter, and most im- portantly, their contributions to their chosen Right to Life causes: the local Right to Life organization, Michigan Right to Life, and the National Director of Priests for Life, Father Frank Pavone. The ushers not only volunteer at Masses; they also support and pray for each other outside of Mass. All ifty-eight beautiful ushers at St. Anne's are watched over and cared for by an usher support team, Mitchell explained. Support team members include Mitchell, usher coordinator Randy Kleiman, Wayne Nault, and Art and Beverly Ziebell. Other volunteer ministries at St. Anne Parish are vibrant as well. For instance, St. Anne has an 78 Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, along with 41 young people who are on the active altar server schedule, 24 lectors, many cantors, organ- ists/musicians, four active funeral committees, many catechists, collection counting teams, and many other volunteers. 18 April 14, 2017 THE U.P. CATHOLIC www.upcatholic.org Escanaba ushers serve parish and community COURTESY PHOTO St. Anne, Escanaba usher Chris Gestwicki holds the door open for parishioner Jamie Hansen and her son. COURTESY PHOTO Usher Randy Kleiman presents a check to Audra Buchmiller for Preg- nancy Services of Delta County. Buchmiller serves as the director of pregnancy services. Gregory Mitchell

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