Nomination for VOYA graphic

Mary Lou Wildung

St. Bernards Catholic Church in Cologne, MN 

Service to Others

Mary Lou Wildung is a member of St. Bernard Parish in Cologne, MN, and has been a Catholic United member for 59 years. She was elected treasurer in 1992 and transitioned to the fraternal secretary, a position she still holds today. She is on many church committees, including stewardship, and involved with fundraising activities at church. She serves as the greeter for Red Cross blood drives and also donates blood. She has recently received her 6-gallon donation pin. When the virus is finally under control Mary Lou will return to full participation – serving meals at Sharing and Caring Hands, sorting at the local food shelf, the agricultural building at the county fair, Stiftungsfest celebration, and as treasurer of the Friends of the Waconia Library with their book sales.

Due to the COVID 19 restrictions we have all had our lives impacted in countless ways. We need each other! Mary Lou wrote a poem describing the challenges and frustrations caused by COVID. The following is the poem that she wrote…

What can be said about 2020?
Clearly the most difficult year of my life
The challenges – there have been plenty
Always at home with my kids, husband or wife

At first, we were told the virus is here
Wash your hands often and just stay home
There’s no need to panic, there’s no need to fear
Contact each other by using your phone

Our elderly folks were really hit quite hard
The virus invaded their buildings
Stay in your rooms, you can NOT play cards
Very soon we will all need counseling

Next it was said that a mask might be good
Social distance from others whenever you can
Wear a mask to run errands? – you probably should
Just take the car, you won’t need the van

No school tomorrow? You CAN’T close the schools
We don’t have internet, a computer or daycare
Please think this through, it’s so NOT cool
To the teachers, students and parents tis not fair

Our grad party or wedding, what do we do?
The date has been set, the plans are all made
Must we cancel now or just follow through?
Our hopes and our dreams are starting to fade

What day is it we often ask
With no schedule we tend to lose track
If you work from home you will save some gas
No vacation this summer, there’s no need to pack

Election again – no, no, no, it’s way too soon
I approve this message they always say
As they attack each other and promise us the moon
No matter who wins, we all pay at the end of the day

We are spiritually, emotionally, and mentally beaten
We fret about the damage, pain, violence and lying
We need to do better, we must stop the cheating
Preserve our freedoms and send our spirits flying

The vaccines are approved, but who should be first?
Doctors, nurses, grocery store workers
Seniors or students, who should be first?
Teachers and all essential emergency workers

Fear, anxiety, boredom and frustration
The news is all violence, vaccine and death
Each week adds another layer of depression
Let’s hope during 2021 we can all catch our breath

Innovative Leadership

In the past 15 months, Mary Lou has mailed more than 160 cards, ‘Thinking of you, Thank you, Get well, Birthday, Anniversary’ and most of all ‘Sympathy’ cards because many families have postponed funerals. Each card included a note with a special thought, memory, or shared experience. She phoned many elderly residents to say that “It is okay NOT to be okay”, and also distributed large print books from her own collection to community members with vision problems.

In August she mailed letters to students sharing some of her “school memories” and encouraged them by reminding them that things will get better and they will return to the classroom. At Christmas, she hand-printed and mailed letters from Mrs. Claus and Santa to 12 children praising their strong points and making some suggestions for improvement. These actions resulted in numerous return calls and greeting cards. Again, we need each other!

Due to COVID, indoor book sales are prohibited at the library so Mary Lou helped to transition the holding of their sales outdoors on their parking lot to provide fresh air, social distancing, and safety for COVID 19 reasons.


It is with great pleasure that I take this opportunity to endorse Mary Wildung, a tireless and dedicated individual for the Catholic United Financial 2021 Volunteer of the Year Award. In many ways, Mary Wildung’s generosity in giving of her time and talent within our community is a personal trait many can learn from and should strive to follow.

I got to know of Mary’s caring personality after I asked her to volunteer at a Cologne Lions Club sponsored event, an American Red Cross blood drive. Mary’s late son, Jeff, was a very active Lions Club member. Since then, Mary has stepped up on numerous occasions working as a Greeter at blood drives, warmly greeting and assisting donors in a helpful, cheerful, welcoming manner. As a first point of contact, Mary is a valued and reliable resource at our blood drives! The American Red Cross continues to make changes in the registration process, all in the best interest of donors and Mary is always positive and willing to listen to staff, take direction and convey changes to donors.
Mary, in response to my invitation to serve the American Red Cross, invited me to join her and fellow volunteers assisting at Sharing and Caring Hands, serving the less fortunate a meal. While we worked, I observed first-hand the positive, kind and welcoming manner that Mary effortlessly used with everyone. This experience was fulfilling, leaving me feeling gratitude to Mary for her confidence in my ability to serve others directly in a caring, personable manner.

I highly recommend Mary for the volunteer award as she is a great role model for what a volunteer is through and through!
Karen Shambour
American Red Cross Coordinator
St. Bernard’s parishioner
I am writing on behalf of Mary Lou Wildung for Catholic United Volunteer of the Year. She has tirelessly given of her time over the years from breakfasts, bingos, Easter Egg hunts and most recently writing personalized Santa letters for young children. In the year of COVID, the letters she wrote from “Santa” were priceless to many families, their children and me. She took the time to note personal strengths of each of the children and things on which the children needed to improve. When the kids heard Santa was REALLY watching them, their faces lit up. In a year full of disappointment and isolation, these letters were something these children will never forget!

Rebecca Widmer
Mary Lou has been a lifelong dedicated parishioner of St. Bernard’s. For more than 5 decades she has been one of the most dedicated volunteers. Being a farm wife, raising 3 small children, she always made time to volunteer weekly for whatever task was needed. She has lead many groups, fundraising events and community events.

After retiring from a career at the Post Office, she filled the time even more volunteer opportunities. She has an organization that she helps almost every day of the week. Even after the start of the COVID pandemic she used her own car to pick up elderly parishioners and drive them to church. She also went to their homes with communion if they could not make it to church.

She is an active member, treasurer, of the local Friends of the Waconia library. She has spent countless hours organizing book sales. She is there long hours to set it up, attends the sale, counts and deposits the money and finds new ways to stay connected when we are forced to stay at home.

As a member of St. Bernard’s for 47 plus years there is no one more active and recognizable than Mary Lou. We are all so blessed to have her and no one is more deserving than her to be honored as the volunteer of the year.

Thank you for your time.
Melissa Pozzi
I am very excited that my mother, Mary Lou Wildung, has been nominated for the Volunteer of the Year Award. She is the kind of person who gives to give. This past year has been very challenging for everyone yet she still took it upon herself to provide exceptional support and service to her community as well as the general public. She has sent out 100+ cards to family, friends and neighbors letting them know that even tho it’s a sad time now, someone is thinking of them. She has also written numerous letters to children sending encouraging messages that eventually you will be back in class and will be able to play with your friends soon. At Christmas time, she hand wrote letters from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Mom is helpful, caring, resourceful and happy to offer service no matter the task. She often performs above and beyond and recently offered her assistance at the Waconia library with their book sales. Due to the pandemic, they were unable to hold sales indoors. She assisted in coordinating the book sales to be held outdoors. For the elderly people in the community that were unable to go to the library, my mom took books from her own collection and dropped them off at their houses.

The American Red Cross holds several blood drives each year where my mom works as a greeter. She assists the donors with navigating the intake forms, taking their temperatures and making sure they feel safe and comfortable. She is a fantastic teammate…always cheerful and exceptional in everything she does!!
Thank you for your consideration,
Wendy Wildung

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