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Parish Pioneers

George & Mary Ann Marcoux

The Marcoux family joined Our Lady of Fatima Parish in December 1969 when they moved from St. Mary’s Parish in Littleton. George, nicknamed “Buzz,” was in the construction business and built their house in Applewood where they have lived ever since. They have four children, Bill, Michael, Carol and Michelle. They “are all still good Catholics,” according to their mother. They all made their First Communion and Confirmation at Our Lady of Fatima parish and attended Religious Education classes on Sunday. The Marcoux kids now are active in their parishes as a Religious Education teacher, an Extraordinary Minister, and a Reader at Mass. With their twelve grandchildren all in the area, Buzz says he is “always running here and there” to keep up with their activities.

When the Marcoux family joined the parish, Father Robert Syrianey was pastor and Mass was held in the gym. He was the first pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, which was established in Lakewood with approximately 250 families on August 13, 1958. Father J. Harley Schmitt became the second pastor in July 1970. Fr. Schmitt turned into a personal friend for the Marcoux family and remained so until his passing. Both Bill and Michael were altar servers, and sometimes the boys would misbehave. Fr. Schmitt would say, “You know I love you, but you have to behave in church!” Fr. Schmitt was at the weddings of both boys and remained close to them.

With Fr. Schmitt’s support, Mary Ann and George were pioneers in the formation of the parish Renew Group and developed deep friendships with the others in the program. They met in the evenings and had special celebrations together, like a Seder Meal at Passover and a big potluck for all the groups at the end of the year.  Fr. Schmitt celebrated home masses for the group.

Mary Ann is active in the Altar and Rosary Society and joined St. Margaret’s Circle 47 years ago. This circle washes and irons the small linens used at Mass and embroiders the baptismal bibs. They used to make “crazy quilt lap robes” for seminarians in Gallup, New Mexico. She is the only woman from the original group who is still active in the Circle. Mary Ann is also a member of St. Clare’s Circle which cooks meals for The Action Center.

 Fr. Edmund Kestel, Assistant at Our Lady of Fatima Parish

Fr. Edmund Kestel, Assistant at Our Lady of Fatima Parish

Mary Ann recalls Fr. Edmund Kestel, an assistant priest at Our Lady of Fatima from 1977 – 1979 who was an accomplished pianist. He played the piano for a function at the Lakewood Country Club to raise money for the Altar and Rosary Society, and it was “wonderful time” for the ladies who attended.

George has also been very active in the parish. He remembers the old church in the gym and as a civil engineer, he was happy to work on the building campaign with Fr. Schmitt to build the new church. The new church was dedicated by Archbishop James V. Casey on August 13, 1978 on the 20th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima, Lakewood. He also volunteered for future campaigns. George has been an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion “forever.”

When Michelle Marcoux was only 18 months old, she developed amafalous influenza spinal meningitis. Michelle went into Children’s Hospital both deaf and blind and was there for two weeks. St. Margaret’s Circle ladies got the word out to the parish that she needed prayers and they held a Mass for her. “It was a miracle that she came out of the hospital” and that she “turned out to be a 3-sport athlete and honors student in high school,” said Mary Ann. The prayers of Our Lady of Fatima friends made a big difference for them.

George and Mary Ann have been faithful parishioners for 47 years. “We love it here,” they said. “Each priest has his own character and gifts” and they have been close to many of them. Besides their close friendship with Fr. Schmitt, whom they spoke to by phone on the night he died on June 25, 2003, they have a special friendship with Monsignor, now Bishop, Walker Nickless, who married two of the Marcoux children and has baptized many of the grandchildren. Bishop Nickless was pastor of Our Lady of Fatima from 2001 until 2005. He is now the Bishop of the Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa.