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Mary Catherine Schulte Feb 15, 1925-Mar 5, 2018
Pastor Dick Piscatelli
Williamsville United Methodist Church

This morning we gatherer together as family and friends to celebrate the new life that Mary Catherine Schulte now enjoys. On Monday of this past week around the noon hour, she quietly passed from this life to eternal life. She breathed her last on this earth and began to breathe her first breath in a place where there is no more pain or suffering, or tears. It is a place full of new life with people she has known for years, who she worked with, who she loved and who she shared her life with. They were the ones that greeted her at that gate to heaven. When Mary and her escort arrived at the golden gate and was asked her name, she replied very happily and spiritly, “Mary Catherine Lake Schulte from Williamsville Il, born to Jessie and Ben Lake, married for 52 plus years to the love of my life, Herman “Sandy” Schulte, mother of Robert Paul and Jayne Carney, grandmother to 4 wonderful grandchildren, but most importantly, a child of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” The gatekeeper opened his great big Book of Life, scrolled through it to the S’s and came upon her name written there and said, “Mary Catherine Lake Schulte, welcome to your new home.” When she took her first step on the golden road a hand reached out to welcome her, and the crowd went wild with cheers, as family and friends who have preceded her welcomed her to her new home. A voice she had never heard out loud but felt in her heart spoke to her. “Welcome Mary. You are home. Your work that I prepared for you on earth has been completed. You have fought the good fight. You have kept the faith. You have run the race with perseverance and with joy. You have shared your faith, you have served the people, and you have left your mark on your family, your friends and your community. Well done my good and faithful servant. You may now rest from your labors and receive your crown of righteousness.”
We gather today, not like others who grieve without hope. We gather together like those the Apostle Paul gave sound advice. We gather to comfort one another with the hope that comes from believing that one day we will join Mary in that place that Jesus went to prepare for us. This life is only the journey that gets us to that place where we shall live forever, in a place where God’s light shines, and where there are blessings after blessings. That is our hope. That is why we don’t grieve like those who have no hope. Sad because a loved one is gone, of course. But we rejoice for Mary is in a far, far better place.
Looking at Mary’ obituary I found Mary and I have something in common. We were both born on February 15. She in 1925, me a few years later. She had such a great life. She loved teaching. She loved education of all sorts. She loved helping others. Her life began in Fancy Prairie on a farm where she raised and showed cows. Sandy, her husband said that he and Mary used to be in competition with each other at shows. I didn’t ask Sandy who won the most times, but I’m sure their competition was great fun.
Though she taught in the school system Mary’s greatest joys were being a Home Advisor for Menard County, answering those questions that helped people with whatever project they might be doing.
Eileen Grampp, who was with her when she passed became a Home Economics teacher because of Mary’s willingness to teach her the things she needed to know. It was Mary who took Eileen to check out colleges to attend. And that friendship lasted for many years, and Eileen was right there to send her off on her final journey.
God prepared Mary well. He gave her the gifts she needed in order to be a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend. He blessed her with a caring spirit, and a love of God’s people. She served in the church, she played the piano, she enjoyed passing on her talents to those who needed a lift. In fact, I was told that one time while she was teaching she lent her car to a student who needed to go someplace. That student ran into a ditch. When she found out about the accident her first words were about the student she lent her car to. She was relieved that she was okay.
There is so much I could say about Mary from just a few who gave me some insights into her life on this earth. Sandy, her husband, described her as a brilliant, loving woman. Her grandson said his grandmother was soft-spoken and kind. She taught him how to sew and to bake cookies, and often played Bingo with her. It was Mary and Sandy who taught him how to drive when he was way to young to be behind the wheel. I imagine, like other farm kids, it must have happened on their farm out of danger of hurting others. Ryan also said his grandmother loved to play the piano, and because of her, he has learned to play as well.
Lots of love flowed through Mary Catherine Schulte. God planted those seeds of love into her when he created her in her mother’s womb so long ago in a small place in the country, just a bump in the road, called Fancy Prairie. She didn’t end up being just a farm child. She became educated in a variety of fields. Whether teaching in school, working as Home Advisor for Menard County, judging 4-H cooking and sewing projects at county and state fairs, she did it out of love for her craft and for those who participated and wanted to learn. She had the patience of Job, and the love of her God who guided her daily, and who gave her all those wonderful gifts to share his love with others.
She was a remarkable woman, that’s for sure.
When I asked Sandy what he is going to miss about Mary, he said her kindness, her smile, and her witty remarks. When I asked him if there was a funny story that he could remember. He kind of smiled and said that one-time Mary and a friend went out shopping and decided to eat out at Olive Garden when they were finished. They enjoyed the meal greatly. When Mary returned home she didn’t get the welcome she was expecting. When she asked Sandy what was wrong, well, he just laid in on the line. Her breath was bad. I mean REAL bad. It almost smelled up the whole house. You see, she and her friend dove into that garlic like there was no tomorrow. Sandy said it was so bad that he gave her an ultimative. One of them was going to have to sleep outside. You want to guess who that was?
Their marriage was strong, even from the beginning, even though one pastor they went to would not marry them because he didn’t believe this marriage would work. I guess they fooled him. Married 52 years, going on 53, better than some couples today. Love works, when you share it. Love works when you put others first. Love can solve many things if you work at it. Love abounds when you let God be first in your life, for his love can melt the most hardened heart, and difficult situations.
When Mary was part of the Cantrall United Methodist Church she was one of seven who attended that church that voted to rebuild it after a tornado destroyed it. It’s still there. She loved that church and she played the piano for many years. But one day she left there and played at Sweetwater Christian Church. When she was going to have to go to the nursing home she asked if they had a piano. They did. But I don’t think she ever got to play it. Her grandson Ryan said that when he visited her there he asked her to play but she refused. She thought she just couldn’t play like she used to. Ryan encouraged her to play one more time, just one more time for him but she said no, her playing days were behind her. She just wanted to rest now. I bet she has found a piano in heaven and is playing up a storm those old hymns of our faith being sung by a cast of characters of old.
Mary loved to read and loved to further her education. She had a teachable spirit that she passed on to others. She never knew a stranger. In fact, she was delighted by a get-well card she received in the nursing home from someone who said she was the best teacher they had ever had.
As you can tell her obituary doesn’t tell the whole story. Mary was a family person, a community person, a friend to all. She will be missed. They tell me that Mary gave lots of loaves of cranberry bread to friends at Christmas time. Someone said that she told Mary she hadn’t received hers, and Mary said she had it in her freezer with her name on it and she hoped to get it to her. She loved to quilt and do many other things.
Mary just celebrated her 93 birthday this past February 15. What a great life it was, full of love, full of joy, full of sharing, full of passing on the things she had learned. She was a complete person, made in the image of God.
I would like to share part of a note that I received from one of her friends from Middletown. She said her first memories were from the early 70’s when Mary would go into her family’s restaurant. She was kind, sweet spirited and soft-spoken. Mary had a passion for quilts and loved to talk about things while quilting. She never bragged on her abilities but always gave her best to what she did. She was an encourager, even when things weren’t always the best in her world. Once in the hospital with Sandy, she found out this woman’s family was there so, she left Sandy to go check on this woman’s family. She always had a huge smile and a twinkle in her eye. She loved to visit and walk down memory lane and Valorie Reynolds will cherish that relationship forever.
Let me share a picture in Valorie’s mind of Mary. She wrote: “The past few years have shown me a patchwork of Mary’s life and God’s grace and goodness. In the center stands Mary with an outstretched, welcoming hand to draw you close, with a radiant smile and twinkling eyes. With her is her greatest treasure, her beloved husband, the love of her life. Encircling them you will find their children and grandchildren, the stars in her quilt- always prominent in her thoughts and conversations. Set into her life at just the right time and place were her friends ready to aide and encourage and escort her to a quilt meeting or to visit with an ailing friend or go for a coffee/book club gathering or just ask her over for a cup of tea about quilting. All of this was boarded with visits, many, many prayers, good wishes and encouraging words of all who knew her.”
What a wonderful tapestry to remember Mary Catherine Schulte. A quilt of her life on this earth. From the heart of one friend to another. A relationship that has lasted for many years.
Now it is time to bring this message to a close. It’s time to tip your hats to Mary for the way she touched your lives, as you remember the love, the caring that she blessed you with.
Our God did good when he created Mary in her mother’s womb. She was blessed and was a blessing to all she met. As was said, she never knew a stranger, and I believe that is why somehow, she invited this pastor who only met her a few times, to say some final words about her life. I am privileged to stand before you to say your wife, your mother, your grandmother, your friend was truly special. I have been touched by Sandy’s sharing with me his life with Mary, by some words grandson Ryan had to say, and by two notes from Eileen Grampp and Valorie Reynolds. Those told the story of Mary.
You all have been very fortunate to have her as part of your lives for so many years. Now you have those memories, those ways she interacted in your lives. Cherish them until the day you will meet her when your name shall be searched and found in God’s Book of Life.
I like what The Reverend Billy Graham said to people when they talked about when he would die. He basically said don’t believe those who say he is no longer living. “Tell them I’m living a much happier life now then ever before. The only thing that has changed is my address.”
So, it is with Mary Catherine Schulte. And by the way, I think I better close, for Mary is on her way to a quilting party and doesn’t want to be late.
So, may God bless and keep us in the palms of his hands as he wipes away those tears of sorrow and gives us the joy of knowing such a one as Mary. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord, amen!

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