Saturday , May 05, 2018 - 5:00 AM
OGDEN — For those who knew she was in town this week, Sister Stephanie Mongeon was a popular attraction.
Mongeon said she was in so many “selfies” with those who stopped by everywhere she went that her head was spinning.
The Catholic nun, who is formerly of Mount Benedict Monastery in South Ogden, visited from her new home at St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, Minnesota, this week. The visit, she said, marked the 12th time she’s been invited to Ogden in the five years since she and the other Mount Benedict Monastery nuns left the area.
I saw St. Joseph Catholic High School officers scrambling to get photos with her.
Mongeon’s popularity spans all faiths, economic backgrounds and ages. Known for her charity in every situation, one doesn’t have to wonder too long to discover the secret to Mongeon’s popularity.
“What a person desires is unfailing love,” reads part of the New International Bible version of Proverbs 19:22.
Many would say that Mongeon is the embodiment of the Scripture found in Colossians 3:12:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience,” reads the scripture in the New International Version of the Bible.
By association with Mongeon’s kindness, those who know her say they become different people.
Her escort during part of her visit, Craig Bielik, told those at the 2018 Catholic Community Services Dream Builders Breakfast that he’s a much more patient and forgiving driver when Mongeon is in the car with him, especially when another car pulls out in front of his.
The purpose of Mongeon’s latest visit was to attend the breakfast. She baked two bundt cakes while in town for the fundraising effort. One auctioned for $1,500 and the other for $1,000.
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I spoke to the $1,000 buyer Kevin Potts and he said he got a good deal. The plastic cover over the cake that said “Blessed by Sister Stephanie” and a cross on top of the package always would be cherished items, Potts said.
Kindness is a concept that is universally celebrated and speaks all languages, I believe.
It’s an idea explained by Bob Hunter, who retired as president and CEO of United Way of Northern Utah after 17 years and is the current director of the Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service at Weber State University. Hunter was honored at the breakfast with a humanitarian award.
Hunter, a former Mormon bishop, joked about how Salt Lake Catholic Diocese Bishop The Most Reverend Oscar A. Solis called him on his cellphone last year when he was looking for the annual Dream Builders breakfast.
“It was a Mormon bishop helping a Catholic bishop find his way,” Hunter joked.
Hunter also introduced his Muslim friend from Saudi Arabia, Aziz Alnasri, an intern with the Walker Institute last Legislative session. Pointing to Alnasri, Hunter asked those in attendance to remember to be kind and Christlike to their Muslim neighbors.
“We live in a world that’s made up of a lot more than Christians,” Hunter said.
Then he quoted a noted historical Muslim leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandi.
“I like your Christ,” he said. “I do not like your Christians. They are not like your Christ.”
Hunter said he has discovered that nearly every faith he’s researched has something akin to the Golden Rule, which teaches kindness toward others.
“We really are more alike than different,” Hunter said.
Solis also spoke of how kindness, love and service to those in need allows them human dignity, decency and respect.
“God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life,” Solis said, quoting John 3:16 in the King James Bible, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
He encouraged all in attendance at the breakfast to not just build dreams but to build hope.
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