Landing back in the Twin Cities in the fall of 2002, Anne Jaeger moved into the Walker Art Center neighborhood and she loved walking to Sunday Mass at The Basilica.
At church, Anne heard the plea for financial and volunteer stewardship. As a U of M student, she wasn’t in a position to give money, but she was strong, had a flexible schedule and knew she could give her time. She joined the parish Shoveling Team. “If it snowed on your assigned day,” Anne explained, “you reported to The Basilica and helped shovel.”
As an outdoor lover, the Shoveling Team was a great fit for Anne. She described it as her “first step into The Basilica’s inner world.” After hearing about an after-Mass panel discussion on energy conservation, her interest was peaked again. She attended and met Janice Andersen, The Basilica’s Christian Life Director. “Janice was so welcoming, and immediately invited me to an upcoming event.” This led Anne to meet Colleen Maiers, parish leader of Pax Cum Terra, a group focused on justice, peace, and the environment (now our Eco Stewardship Team). Finding this work right up her alley, Anne commented, “the hooks were set.” She still remembers meeting Colleen the first time over coffee after Mass. Anne experienced a feeling of familiarity, mentioned it, and found that Colleen felt it too. They found past connections at both Holy Angels and Annunciation, and Anne learned that at one point, Colleen had been her babysitter. They’ve stayed in touch ever since.
As Anne’s involvement grew, she joined Dennis Hoffman as co-leader of the Blessing of Bicycles, an event she loves. After a few years, she needed to step back from leadership and tried to find a volunteer leader but wasn’t successful. She announced that she would lead for another year and then step down, but no clear leader emerged. However, more volunteers stepped up and owned various components of the event. Eventually, a great team emerged who shared responsibility and made the blessing happen.
Anne also served for a year as Facilitator of JustFaith and led others to explore social issues and justice through the lens of Catholic social teaching. Drawn to be most active with Christian Life ministries, Anne recently served as the elected Christian Life representative on the Parish Council.
As a Saturday Shoe Ministry volunteer since 2010 (part of our St. Vincent de Paul outreach ministry to those in need), Anne helps set up and provide shoe vouchers to families whose children need new shoes for school, or people starting new jobs who need new footwear.
She remembers starting in this ministry when our U.S. economy was tanking. “Every Saturday there were long lines of people waiting for us to open. Often, volunteers worked longer hours to try and talk to everyone who had waited in line for help.” Over time she has come to measure swings in the economy by the people waiting in line on Saturdays.
Clearly moved by her experiences, Anne had tears in her eyes as she spoke. “I’m struck by the deep faith of the people I meet. People often ask me to say a prayer for them, or sometimes they ask me to pray with them. It’s so simple,” said Anne. “It’s a very brief interaction. The people who come to St. Vincent de Paul trust that they will receive help—but what they may not know is they always leave something of themselves behind.” Serving in SVdP has expanded Anne’s own feelings of gratitude. While her job is to give shoe vouchers, Anne said “what this SVdP ministry truly provides is hope.”
What does Anne get out of volunteering at The Basilica? At the heart of it is community and friendship. She’s met amazing people who have inspired her to stretch and grow in her spirituality and faith. Meeting these individuals has challenged her to look at the world in new ways.
“Some people may find The Basilica to be very big initially,” Anne commented. “Simply following my own interests led to meeting just the right person which gave me an instant link to the parish.” Anne got involved and enthusiastically describes her volunteer engagement as “super fulfilling.” She encourages everyone “to make that first connection, and just lean in.”