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Living the Faith: Ray and Sally Helfer

Sally and Ray Helfer Pilot photo/ Courtesy the Helfers

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WESTON -- “There’s a lot of great things going on at St. Julia’s,” said Sally Helfer, parishioner at St. Julia’s parish in Weston.

She should know. Together with her husband of 22 years, Ray, and their four children, the Helfer family is quite involved in the goings on of the parish. Soon after joining the parish in 1994, the pastor asked Ray to revitalize the Cub Scout program -- a program that had ceased operating within the parish. For six years, Ray was the Scout Master. Today the scouting program is thriving at St. Julia’s.

In 1998, Sally began a Ministry of Mothers Sharing (MOMS) group -- a group that still meets today. She also taught religious education while her children were younger.

Now that the Helfer children are getting older -- two are in college, one is a senior in high school and one is in junior high -- Ray and Sally are still as involved, but in a host of other ways. No longer the Cub Master, Ray and their second son, Matthew, have been members of the parish pastoral council. Sally no longer teaches religious education, but one of their children, Daniel, has followed in her footsteps.

The two younger Helfers, Michael and David, use their musical talents, playing trumpet and singing in the youth choir.

In addition, for the past three years, Sally has helped organize the parish picnic -- a large annual affair that draws over 500 parishioners to the outdoor Mass and picnic. In recent years, the parish has grown considerably when St. Joseph in Lincoln was merged with St. Julia’s.

“Organizing the parish picnic has helped me to get to know the parishioners from Lincoln,” she said.

“Because of it, I have a greater sense of our parish being larger,” she added, noting that “maintaining two church buildings does add to the challenge of being united as one parish.” However, in her opinion, “it has been a smooth transition.”

Parishioners at St. Julia’s since 1994, Ray and Sally recall that their parish was not always so vibrant.

“When we first moved here, there were some challenges in the beginning,” Ray said. “St. Julia’s really didn’t have as much going on.”

Nevertheless, the Helfers thought it important to join the parish and help to rejuvenate it rather than “shop for a parish.”

“We have never lived close to family,” explained Sally, “so every time we have moved, the first thing we do is join the local parish.”

According to Sally, one of the reasons the parish is thriving is because of the leadership of Father George Evans.

“Father (Evans) is very effective at keeping things moving,” she said. “He empowers people and gets everyone motivated to get involved.”

“He’s also very open to new ideas,” she added.

Ray and Sally, both 48, met while the two were in college in Indiana -- he at Notre Dame, she at St. Mary’s College. Both came from strong Catholic families. And when they married, both were determined to pass their faith onto their children.

“My faith is everything to me,” said Sally. “My dad always said, ‘God come first and then came family.’ No matter where I go...I always know I have my faith and God is with me.”

Ray, who runs an investment business, agrees. “I know there’s always strength and wisdom and confidence in God. That’s what faith signifies for me.”

St. Julia Parish, Weston

Pastor -- Father George Evans

Parochial Vicar -- Father Joseph Hennessey

Pastoral Associate -- Susan Bayard

Pastoral Associate for Faith Formation -- Anne Marie Mahoney

Business Manager -- Sister Mary Anne Doyle, CSJ

Music Director -- Brian Moll, Mary Lou Sallee

Youth Minister -- Jean Pelletier

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