St. Mary's Honors its Volunteers

Servant of God

We are mindful of the report in Luke, 1:38: When the angel had told Mary that she was to bear the Son of God, she replied, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” To be called a Servant of the Lord is among the highest compliments in Christianity.

Sandie Beihl

Directress, St. Mary’s Altar Guild

For about eight years, Sandie Beihl has directed the altar guild’s work for all Eucharist services at St. Mary’s, more than 300 every year. The four rotating teams of men and women in the guild prepare for three weekend services, three weekday services, all special services such as Messy Church, Christmas Eve, Holy Week, baptisms, weddings and funerals.

The guild under Sandie’s leadership has grown to 25 members, both seasonal and year-round, but more are always needed, and Sandie looks forward to the opportunity to explain the ministry and recruit additional members at the parish Ministry Fair on March 13. “Learning the why and how of worship is very important. Communion is a mystery, but there is a reason for everything; it is a continuing ed process.

“Many people don’t understand it. There’s so much beauty in serving the Lord at the altar. I know that most people don’t realize how complex and beautiful it is, because I used to be like that. For years, I guess I thought that little fairies came in and polished the silver, cleaned the linens, arranged the flowers, kept the order of the liturgical colors and vestments….I took it all for granted for nearly 40 years, until we came to St. Mary’s and I joined the Altar Guild 12 years ago.”

Sandie and her late husband John came to Bonita Springs from St. Joseph MO, (“where the Pony Express started and Jesse James ended”) in 2002 when John retired from his law practice. Raised Protestant and converted to Catholicism at 19, she joined the Episcopal Church when she married John, a Lutheran. Sandie wrote for her local newspaper in St. Joe and later worked in marketing for the community hospital.

They came to St. Mary’s soon after moving south and became enmeshed in this “most wonderful, loving church. What we have here is so precious, so unusual in today’s world, a place where you come back and never leave. We are so very blessed,” she said.

Their grown daughter lives in Tallahassee.

Asked for a final comment, Sandie laughed and said. “Everybody knows that once you join Altar Guild, you never leave. Nobody is allowed to resign. My husband is in the columbarium and I expect to be there too, some day. So even when I’m gone, I’ll be there, watching!”

St. Mary's Episcopal Church

9801 Bonita Beach Road - Bonita Springs, Florida 34135 - (239) 992-4343

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