Catholic School Education Brings Faith to Life

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SellsFamily StMaryBR

Bill and Debra Sell and their boys, Liam and Logan, moved to Michigan in 2018, but in their short time here, their faith lives have vastly changed. Bill was raised Lutheran. Debra came from a faithful family and recalls her grandfather being the prominent Catholic in the family. She says, “In a way, I was raised with Catholic values but without realizing it. I even reflected on our groups of friends throughout the years, and they were all Catholic.”

During their first year in Big Rapids, Debra homeschooled her two boys. She became aware of St. Mary Catholic School through other parents attending a Ferris State University robotics event. Bill also heard many of his fellow officers at the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety promote St. Mary School. During lunch one day, Brian Miller, then detective of Bill’s department and a current parent
at St. Mary, walked Bill over to the school for a tour.

Bill loved everything about it – from morning prayer services with singing and Scripture to the individual recognition of students at their monthly award ceremony. The boys were enrolled and brought the Catholic faith into their home almost immediately. Liam and Logan had many discussions with their parents about the saints and elements of the Catholic faith woven into each school subject. Soon, the whole Sell family was attending weekly Mass together celebrated by Father Jegar Fickel, St. Mary | St. Paul pastor.

It was Father Jegar’s personal invitation to participate in RCIA that got the Sells to commit to Catholicism. Together, they were confirmed on Easter 2022 and are now extremely active and “all in” with the St. Mary community. Bill and Debra both serve in parish hospitality, and Debra is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion. Liam serves as a lector and Logan as an altar server. Debra has been hired into the school as preschool director and kindergarten teacher. “I work with very young children, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to plant these seeds of faith into the future,” she says.

Story written for the diocesan 2022-23 Annual Report. To see the full report and the good things going on in our diocese, click here