Olive-Spread Sandwiches and the communion of saints

by Diane Thrush

Our Vacation Bible School was approaching at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio, and the signup sheets for volunteer snacks were posted in the church lobby.olive spread sands for web

“What is the easiest thing I can bring?” I asked myself. I found something on the list that I could pick up at HEB grocery store and signed up for it, no cooking involved. As I walked away to get into my car, Margene’s olive spread sandwiches came to mind.

Margene could be described as the patron saint of children’s ministry at St. Luke’s. From the earliest days of church and school, Margene taught and led children’s chapel and generally shepherded many young children through the church. She touched many young lives. Unfortunately, cancer took her from us way too soon. The tapestry in the children’s chapel was commissioned in her memory. Its title is “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” which was her favorite hymn. Margene was also known to bring olive-spread sandwiches whenever finger sandwiches were needed, especially for funerals and VBS volunteers. My mother gave me Margene’s recipe many years ago. I had never made them but couldn’t part with the recipe because it made me think of her.

That Sunday, all the way home, I tried to talk myself out of making those sandwiches for the VBS volunteers – too much trouble I told myself. But when I got home I did get out the recipe and looked at it. The following Sunday when I went to church, I saw Ann Allen, children’s ministry director, who was of course mentored as a child by Margene. I told her I had this crazy idea of making Margene’s sandwiches for VBS. She said right away, “The Communion of Saints! That gives me the chills.” I asked her what day I should bring them IF I decided to make them. Her reply was, “Whenever Margene tells you to.”

The idea wouldn’t go away, no matter how hard I tried. It’s as if Margene were telling me, “Pay attention!” The next time I went to HEB, I thought I would get the ingredients, just in case I changed my mind. A week later, with VBS starting in a few days, I decided why not, why not give it a try? I could put them in the freezer. And so, I made the sandwiches and wrapped them up for the freezer.

On Wednesday of VBS week, I took the sandwiches. As I walked by Ann, I said “Margene is here!” All morning long, the story was told and retold. The volunteers who had been around when Margene was here were all touched by her sandwiches, and sweet memories were shared. She was very present to us that week as we ministered to the children who were present.

Margene is an example to me of the “little-s” saints. They are all around us whether we know it or not. We won’t read about them in official books, or celebrate their saint’s days in our churches. But as we look around, maybe at a lovely tapestry on the wall, or the Gospel book (also in her memory), or eat olive-spread sandwiches surrounded by the voices of happy children, we will remember those whose lives have made a difference in our church communities. And we will thank God for their ministries, and try to follow in their footsteps.


Diane Thrush is a retired chaplain and a member of St. Luke’s, San Antonio. Reach Diane at dianewt@aol.com

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From The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas

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