October 11, 2019

Award winner’s ‘true gift’ is leading people to God

By John Shaughnessy

Marianne HawkinsMarianne Hawkins has this way of always giving credit to others.

She praises “all the great volunteers” who help with the faith formation of the children, youths and adults in her parish, downplaying that she coordinates all those programs.

She marvels at the people who want to enter into full communion of the Church through the parish’s Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program, sidestepping the fact that she leads them toward that goal.

She also glows about the parish youths who lead fundraisers so they can attend the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis in November, even giving a shout-out to Father Francis Kalapurackal for telling parishioners “to keep all your cars dirty for another week” to support the youths’ car-wash drive. She’s there right alongside the youths, too.

“My gift is to find the gifts of others and then utilize those people,” says Hawkins, coordinator of faith formation at St. Thomas More Parish in Mooresville.

Yet, it seems, everyone in the parish says Hawkins’ true gift is helping lead people to a closer relationship with God. Indeed, a wealth of tributes from parishioners of all ages led to her being selected for this year’s Excellence in Catechesis Award from the archdiocese.

“I’m walking on a cloud,” the mother of five and the grandmother of eight says about the honor—and then she praises the teamwork of the parish staff.

The award is especially meaningful to her because she views her Catholic faith as the root of her life, saying, “I have to have my Church to grow.” And helping people grow in their faith has been her goal in her 23 years of leading faith formation.

“Every person is different,” she says. “I try to establish a relationship with them. When I choose my catechists, I don’t necessarily go with those who know the faith. I’m looking for someone who is living their faith.

“I like a small parish because people don’t fall through the cracks. I know the people. I’m trying to find how we can get them in the door. Once they’re in, they’re hooked. And once they’re hooked on Jesus, they’re good. It’s just getting them in and providing a positive spiritual experience.”

In many ways, she sees herself as planting seeds of faith, believing God will make them grow.

“I want these seeds to bloom, to be passed on. We can just do so much, and then ultimately it’s God.” †


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