Join us in welcoming Mary Stange to the SJFS team! Learn more about her background, and time with SJFS below.
From Mary Stange, Client Advisor at SJFS:
After growing up in small-town Boone, Iowa, home of the Kate Shelley High Bridge and Pufferbilly Days festival, I set my sights on Franciscan University of Steubenville. I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Communication with an emphasis in Radio and Television. Once I entered the workforce, I realized that I didn’t want my career to be my whole life. I took a year of discernment with the Community of St. John in Princeville, IL and received clarity regarding my vocation, but it would be almost a decade before it came to fruition.
My first career boss saw my potential and aptitude for computer programs and numbers, so he moved me into the bookkeeping position of Lagron-Miller Co., a Catholic Bookstore in Peoria, IL. After this, my second boss, Fr. David Richardson, of St. Philomena Parish & School saw that I had outgrown my position and offered me some room to develop my talents further as the Bookkeeper of the Parish & School. I learned so much from that position, and was further enriched by the guidance of Fr. David, who is a skilled administrator. He would sometimes loan me out to his brother priests to clean up the books and help their bookkeepers automate a few processes, as not every Pastor has a gift for administration. I saw first-hand the power of servant leadership in the workplace and it forever changed me.
In my role at St. Philomena I handled the tuition of its Catholic Grade School. I was given the mandate to work with everyone, keep the lines of communication open, and to show compassion. One year, I encountered a sweet family, their bread winner had been let go from his job. He called, beside himself, having never asked me to put a hold on his automatic tuition payments before. He and I spoke for a half hour that day, where I was honored to put him at ease, reassure him of his childrens’ place at our school and to offer to be a source of prayer and support to him during that difficult season. I asked that he simply keep me updated each month. So he and I connected, once a month, and I continued to pour out encouragement and keep his family in my prayers. After he went back to work, I assured him we could wait a month until his family was more financially stable to start his tuition back up. At registration for the next school year, I would man an office to be available for questions or to take tuition payments. This man and his family came to find me, and it was such a joy and blessing to meet them in person. His wife was in tears, and told me how much having another voice that consistently upheld the dignity of his role as provider had meant to her and their whole family. For someone for whom most of her work is at a desk, it was the most gratifying moment of my career.
When I was looking to rejoin the workforce after being a stay at home mother, I felt like I was looking for a unicorn. I was confident in my skills and ability, but I entrusted a very specific list to the Lord:
- Remote Work
- Accounting Emphasis
- Flexible Hours
- Mission Driven
I looked for six months before I got myself back on Linked-In, where I encountered Jonathan Buolous and the amazing work he was doing with St. Joseph Financial Services. Interviewing with St. Joseph was my Christmas Present, where the Lord provided the one thing I hadn’t hoped to pray for, an opportunity to serve Catholic Parishes & Schools once more. I am humbled and grateful to be doing work that I love for a mission I am passionate about.
Now that I’ve been working for St. Joseph Financial Services for six months, I cannot praise the environment, the people, or the work enough. I started as a Client Specialist in January and was recently promoted to be a Client Advisor. That understanding that my faith and family life come first and a correct lens on work being a dignified pursuit that enriches those things is invaluable. The wheels of progress are turning for this company, and I am excited to embark on my first in-person training next week. To meet these colleagues I have come to respect and admire through these last months in-person, and to delve into and celebrate the Working Genius of each is so exciting. What’s more we will equip ourselves to have constructive, respectful conflict, which will allow our company to grow into its potential even more, finding the best solutions for our esteemed clients.
At St. Joseph, we are encouraged to get to know our co-workers through virtual coffee chats. My first coffee time was with sweet Jacquelyn O’Neill. In the call, we realized we were intimately connected. Jacquelyn introduced my younger sister, Theresa, to her husband, Joshua Padilla and is my niece, Eliza’s godmother! The connections available in a Catholic work environment are limitless.
In my time outside of the office, I am the wife of Robert Stange, and the mother of three beautiful girls; Sophia (4), Valerie (3) and Cassandra (2.) Our daughter, Valerie, was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum in 2022, and very recently our oldest was diagnosed with anxiety due to likely OCD. This means that I am dedicated to and engaged in their regular therapies, we’ve been so blessed to collaborate with Occupational and Speech therapists as a family. I have a podcast called, “I am a Pain Patient” where I use my radio and television skills to talk about pain science, neurology and living wholeheartedly. I also run a small group for women looking to challenge their mindset on health and wellness through true connection and support.