Faith binds Bolner family as parents teach children

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 24, 2002

Faith brought Mary and Glenn Bolner together more than 20 years ago.

Today their faith helps to steer their family through the challenges of a fast-paced world.

“Being part of a church community is important for a family, a part of the glue that holds them together,” Mary Bolner said.

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She and Glenn met as freshmen at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in 1979.

The Catholic student center on campus became a home away from home.

It was not only the place where they met but also the focus of many of their activities together.

Both took part in a student ministry for children in low-income housing near the campus and in religious retreats.

“We had our first date for the 1979 LSU homecoming (football) game,” Glenn said.

They married in 1984 in Mary’s home church in Metairie.

Ironically, they found as they came to know each other that they had grown up within several miles of each other – same city but different churches.

In many ways, their church backgrounds followed similar paths, both with devout parents and families and with outstanding spiritual role models in school and church activities.

“My father was a school bus driver,” Glenn said. “He went to daily Mass, and I went along with him.”

Mary thinks of her aunt, who is a Sister of Mercy; a high school religion teacher who was inspiring and many more who helped her to grow in her faith as she was growing up.

“I’ve been lucky to have lots of Christian role models,” she said.

For their children, Hannah, 12, Sarah, 10, and Nathan, 4, the Bolners hope to provide the same opportunities to grow up with strong ties to their church.

The Bolners moved to Natchez in 1993. Glenn is director of facilities management at Natchez Regional Medical Center, and Mary works part time there as an occupational therapist.

The girls attend Cathedral School, where Hannah is in 7th grade and Sarah, in 4th. Nathan attends First Presbyterian Day School.

Hannah has become active in Catholic Junior Youth Organization at St. Mary, where she also babysits in the church nursery.

As a Cathedral 7th-grader, Hannah must log 10 hours of service a semester in areas of church, school, community or family.

She likes working with children and has recruited younger sister Sarah to help in the church nursery, too. Both also enjoy caring for their younger brother.

“Our family is very close,” Hannah said. “We do lots of things together, and we have big family reunions.”

Chores are a part of daily life for the Bolner children. Hannah helps her mother with dinner and her father with projects around the house.

Sarah has become involved in children’s choir and likes to sing both at school and at church. As a junior Girl Scout, Sarah has found new opportunities to share.

“Every year we pick a name from the angel tree and this year we brought gifts to the Children’s Home and got to meet some of the children there,” Sarah said.

Mary takes part in activities of the St. Mary Women’s Auxiliary and Glenn, in Knights of Columbus.

Consumerism and materialism are two of today’s families’ biggest challenges, Mary said.

She and Glenn depend on one another constantly as they try to keep their lives on track.

“We are just like all other families,” Mary said. “There are times when we aren’t as centered as we ought to be.”

She and Glenn depend on one another, hoping that one or the other will recognize times when they are out of balance.

“We try to stop and think about what we’re spending our energy on,” Mary said.

“Sometimes we say yes too much and find what we really need to do is to stay home more, be a little more still for our families.”

Mary said the church has helped the family to look beyond their small lives and out into the world.

“It’s important to us to be able to respect all people,” Mary said.

“The world is diverse, and we should build on that,” she said.

Glenn said the family tries to look at everything they do as a ministry. “Whether its as a family or church members, at school or at work, it’s all ministry,” he said. &160;