Service, building community, putting faith in action


Photo by James A. McBride

stewardship-webIn photo: Father Walter Norris, pastor of St. Joseph The Worker Parish, Haddon Township, stands with Mark and Laura Pirolli and their children. From left are David, Alyssa, Mark, Father Norris, Beth, Erica and Laura.

HADDON TOWNSHIP – Despite all the things Mark and Laura Pirolli say they have to accomplish in their personal lives, they always make room to share their time, talents and treasures with St. Joseph The Worker Parish.
“Our main involvements have always been with the youth groups,” said Mark. “We’ve been involved since our oldest, Erica, was a year old. She’s 23 now.”
Mark pointed out he and Laura have been stewards at the parish in Haddon Township for seven years, helping with the 2011 merger. Prior to that, their time, talents and treasures were shared at St. Jude in Blackwood.
“In fact,” he said, “Laura and I were married at St. Jude.”
Laura noted they became involved in stewardship as a couple, then as a family, when focus groups began meeting at their home in Bellmawr where they discussed parish issues.
“We would later meet with the parish council after the focus groups which led to RCIA as sponsors,” said Mark. “And all this during her pregnancies. It was very demanding but it was something we knew had to be done.”
Laura and Mark got friends involved and they all became a tightly knit group. “And because of what we had done as stewards,” Mark said, “after 10 years we knew nearly 80 percent of the churchgoers,” he chuckled. “We wound up knowing their wants, likes and dislikes,” he added.
“It was really Laura who brought us all together, who merged our lives,” he pointed out.
RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) was demanding for the Pirollis but the results were a very good builder of friendships,
Mark and Laura noted they work with five other people in the youth ministries. They include Portland McClaine, Mary Nettleman, Sue Discher, Jen Williams and Lucille Wilson.
“They are the team,” said Mark. “My wife and I report to the parish council but some of these people put in more time than we do.”
He explained that things he and his wife do for RCIA are vocation related. “We’ll bring in a priest or nun to show what life is like for them,” said Mark. “Then we talk about the single life or married life and similar subjects.”
Erica is a Eucharistic minister for the Catholic community at Ithaca College in New York and on the liturgy committee as well, while 20-year-old son David is a lector in the parish and Eucharistic minister at Holy Family University.
The twins, 17-year-old Beth and Alyssa, “help us in active ministries,” said Mark. “They decorate for Christmas and help out when things come up.”
Beth is reportedly talking with parish leaders who run the cantoring program to become a cantor.
All four siblings went to Catholic schools, explained Laura. “It was definitely a big commitment for us to do that,” she said. “But look at how they turned out. We’re glad we did it.”
Mark noted there are three pillars that he and his wife adhere to: Service to others, building a community, and putting our faith in action.
“In the past year,” he said, “we’ve gone to Joseph’s House in Camden. We made casseroles and people in our parish and out of the parish donated hats and scarves and put them in packages with prayers inside.”
And all that the Pirollis have accomplished have not escaped the eye of Father Walter Norris, pastor of St. Joseph The Worker.
“This family inspirers others,” he said. “I’ve been working with them during the four years I’ve been here and I find them remarkable.
“Their work with the youth gives them encouragement, particularly when their own children are involved.”

For more information on stewardship contact Deacon Russell Davis, Office of Stewardship, at 856-583-6102.