Catholic Herald staff
Each year, the Superior Diocesan Council of Catholic Women solicits nominations for its Pax Christi award and selects a finalist from each deanery. This is the third of four articles featuring 2014 finalists, all of whom were recognized June 16-17 at the SDCCW convention in Cumberland.
“Love one another” is how Pat Stine closes all her letters. The 2014 Superior Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Pax Christi Award winner, Stine shows love for her community through the universal language of food.
A member of St. Mary Parish, Bruce, Stine is a cradle Catholic, born and raised in Northern Wisconsin. She and her late husband, Robert, were married 51 years before his death on Ascension Thursday 2007. The couple had seven children; their family tree has branched out to include 13 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
“Now you leave a little cubbyhole for me, so I can get into heaven, too,” Stine told her husband before he passed away.
Since his death, she has devoted much of her time to aiding the homebound, helping out at her parish and – of course – cooking and baking.
“Remember when our Lord came, and he said, ‘I came to serve, not to be served?’” Stine asked. “That’s my motto.”
When her children were in grade school, bake sales were the fundraisers of choice. Whenever they needed money for cheerleading outfits, basketball uniforms or anything else, Stine would invite kids to come over on a Saturday and bring ingredients. They’d bake all day long, then sell the breads and sweets on Sunday.
Stine encouraged the kids to set goals, and they learned a lot in the process.
“They were so excited about learning how to bake,” she said. “Their eyes would just pop out when they saw the bread rise.”
Later, Stine opened a family restaurant, where she cooked comfort food and served her community.
“I owned my own restaurant for 10 years,” she added. “Everything was done from scratch.”
A hip replacement forced her retirement from the restaurant business, but Stine continues to serve. When the sheriff’s department needs pies for a celebration or a meal for the inmates, they call on Stine for help, and they aren’t alone.
“Every year, I donate from 150 to 200 pies to all these organizations,” she said.
The biggest event Stine ever organized began when she was coordinator for her parish’s religious education program. They needed a volunteer activity for the children, so she planned a free Thanksgiving dinner.
Once again, the kids brought baking ingredients, and they hosted a bake sale at the church. The money was used to buy turkeys and Thanksgiving dinner ingredients; the students didn’t cook, but they were in charge of decorating, cleanup and more.
The Thanksgiving dinner has been going for eight years, Stine said. These days, the free turkey dinner is open to all parishioners in the six-parish Rusk County Catholic Community.
“We even have neighboring parishes that come and enjoy the meal,” she added.
Over the years, Stine has participated in countless community and parish activities – everything from Boy Scouts and 4-H to her local and diocesan Council of Catholic Women, pro-life events, retreats, anti-poverty efforts and more.
Now, she’s focused on helping the elderly, working at the church and tending her vegetable garden, which has recently suffered the ill effects of a severe thunderstorm.
“Right now my garden is just a disaster,” she said. “My tomatoes, they were just starting to form, and they all got hail damage. Everything was just flattened.”
Stine’s eyesight isn’t what it used to be, and she’s lost interest in driving long distances and traveling by airplane.
“I’m to the point where I don’t do much traveling by myself. I just want to stay home,” Stine said.
She finds fulfillment in working at the church, serving funeral dinners, volunteering at the resale shop and visiting the elderly.
“Right now that’s my biggest concern,” she added. “My favorite service, I think, is working with other people. I enjoy visiting the homebound and helping them out.”
“That’s just what keeps me going,” Stine said, “and I need to keep myself going.”
Stine keeps herself going – and gives tirelessly to others – to wear herself out. She does this for one reason – so she can sleep at night without her husband beside her.