Mary Verbe: Casting it all on Christ
When their children were young, Mary’s husband lost his job. Mary worked part-time jobs while the two of them struggled to make ends meet. Somehow, they also managed to help others at the same time.
Mary started working at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Parish in Center Twp., Pennsylvania, and eventually went into full-time ministry there. She realized that the church was the place God was calling her to serve and wanted to turn her job into a career. She decided to enter the Geneva College Degree Completion Program (DCP) to earn a degree in human resource management.
As a working mom, Mary knew the two-year program would be challenging. Then she was diagnosed with breast cancer. But with her characteristic determination and faith in Christ, Mary refused to give up. "I didn't miss a class," she says, "Even through all the radiation treatments."
At St. Frances Cabrini, Mary started a clothing bank, a food bank and a free haircutting service. “People were calling from all over the county,” she says. The ministry received over 4,000 requests in five years. “We just couldn't do it all.”
Many of the local churches were very small and didn't have the resources to meet the needs in their immediate area. Mary realized that if they could all pool their resources, each congregation could do a better job of helping the people around them. She starting partnering with other areas churches and finding ways they could work together.
As the collaboration grew and took root, Mary was able to register CAST as a 501-C3 non-profit organization. They hired a social worker and reached out more than ever to struggling members of their communities. The CAST office is now located in Bridgewater, Pennsylvania.
Mary now works full time as the director of CAST and coordinates a variety of programs throughout the year. These include emergency assistance programs, GED classes, budget classes, a back-to-school clothing program, holiday outreach and a community vegetable garden. GEMS donated boxes of Stove Top stuffing for the Thanksgiving dinner CAST provides for local families. Through all of these programs and more, Mary strives to equip people to take responsibility to build better lives for themselves and their families.
“My idea is for people to get up, look at their life and say, ‘What can I do to change it?’” she says. “That’s what CAST is—helping people get their lives back together. People come to us in crises, and we're here to help them, but we also want them to learn something. We want them to take responsibility for their own lives. If someone needs to find a job or pay a bill, I tell them ‘I can't make the phone calls for you, but I can tell you who to call.’”
CAST connects people with everything from food and education to jobs and Christmas dinners, but they also offer something more. “The people that have the most miserable lives don't have God,” Mary says. “Many times I ask them, ‘Do you think you only came here for groceries?’ and I pray that they're listening.”
You can help the CAST ministry through your prayers, participation and financial support. For more information or to make a gift, call 724-775-8191.