SALEM -- Being a parishioner at St. Thomas the Apostle is very dear to Sally Hayes’ heart. As a member of the parish school’s first graduating class in 1957, she has had her faith nurtured within its walls.
“I have received all my sacraments except baptism here. Both of my children received all their sacraments here. This has been my life,” Hayes said.
A self-described “all purpose helper,” Hayes and her husband of 42 years, John, help the parish in a host of ways, whenever the need arises. He builds the parish creche every Christmas; she decorates the church for Christmas and Easter.
Hayes is currently the vice-chairperson for the parish council, a facilitator for the ARISE program and an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.
“Whatever Father asks me to do, I try to do,” the 64-year-old said. “I hate to say no. I don’t know how to say no.”
Being involved at St. Thomas runs in her family, she added, noting that her husband’s grandmother hosted parties in the late 1920s to raise funds to build the church.
“In 1926, when the parish was first established, it took parishioners only 8 working days to build the first wooden chapel,” she said. “Then only four years later, the new church building was built.”
“This parish holds a very special place in my heart,” she added.
Hayes described her parish community, which is made up of residents from Peabody, Salem and Danvers, as “vibrant.” She noted that in the past few years, the parish has had its share of ups and downs.
“In 2004, our parish was chosen to be one of the ones that was going to close,” Hayes explained. “You know, you never realize how attached you are to something until you are about to lose it.”
Together with other parishioners, Hayes sat on a committee that advocated to prevent the parish from being closed as part of the archdiocese’s reconfiguration, and in June, 2005, their prayers were answered.
“We were so happy,” she said.
Being given another chance at staying open prompted many to action, she continued. Coupled with the energy that Father Richard Burton, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle, has brought, “the parish has come alive,” she said.
“Father is such an asset to the community,” she said. “And he wants more parishioners to become actively involved.”
Aside from her involvement in the parish, Hayes works for the Salem Retirement Board, a job that allows her to live her faith by helping others.
“I really love helping people and that is what my job is all about,” she said.
“It’s been a good life,” she added pensively. “I love my life.”
St. Thomas the Apostle, Salem
Year established -- 1927
Pastor -- Father Richard T. Burton
Parochial Vicar -- Father Fabiano F. Leite
Pastoral Associate -- Brother Thomas Petitte, FMS
Religious Ed. Director -- Nancy O’Brine
Business Manager -- Brother Paul Wiggin, CFX
Music Director -- William Catanesye