Garrett County parishioners maintain strong faith, serve others

McHENRY – Jean and Bill Schrider have maintained their love throughout their 59 years of marriage – both to each other, and to God.

The Schriders, who reside near Deep Creek Lake, are parishioners of the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s westernmost parish, St. Peter the Apostle in Oakland, and attend Mass at the its St. Peter at the Lake Center in McHenry.

Jean and Bill have been frequenting the region, and its Catholic community, since 1979, when they first bought a home. They have lived there year-round since 1999.

Their story began in Washington, D.C., where they both attended the parish school at St. Gabriel. Bill was an altar server since third grade, and Jean said she would always go to the Mass he was serving.

Through nearly six decades of marriage, and four children, the Schriders never lost touch with their faith.

“I guess we were united in God and we just carried him, and all of the beliefs, and all of the doctrines, through the rest of our lives,” Jean said. “We just never lost the trust and faith in God.”

From the beginning of their marriage, the couple prayed a daily rosary. As their children grew and their activities created a packed schedule, that slipped, but they still made family prayer a priority.

Now, in their 80s, the Schriders have made it a priority to pray the rosary every day. They each have a rosary by their chairs, and in their cars. Every time they have a long enough car ride, they make sure to say the devotion.

Jean and Bill Schrider are active parishioners at Western Maryland’s St. Peter the Apostle in Oakland. (Emily Rosenthal/For the Review)

Jean and Bill have made service a priority. Jean is on the parish council, and Bill was its secretary for nine years. The couple also volunteers as counters of the parish’s collection.

The Schriders also have served together for about nine years as volunteers for the Hospice of Garrett County.

“I feel like we’re helping them find their way back to God in heaven,” Jean said. “If they want to pray we’ll pray with them.”

Jean and Bill, who both share patients and have their own, will read anything to their patients, including religious materials.

“We have no problem discussing religion,” Jean said.

As volunteers, not medical professionals, they can assist the patient to the bathroom or with a meal, but not with anything medical.

“Whatever needs to be done, other than administering medical situations,” Jean said.

They visit some patients in their homes, and others in the nursing home.

The Schriders first took note of hospice ministry when Jean’s brother was in hospice care out of state. The family told the couple how helpful the people were, and it sparked their interest. They saw an advertisement in the newspaper for a training class for new hospice volunteers, and they decided to join.

“Sometimes we’ve only had them one day, or a couple of years,” Jean said. “We always go to the funeral home to pay our respects.”

No matter how long they have known the patients, they always develop a relationship.

“We’ve lost some really great people,” Bill said.

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Emily Rosenthal Alster

Emily Rosenthal Alster

Emily Rosenthal Alster, a former staff writer for the Catholic Review, is a contributing writer. She is a lifelong resident of Maryland and a parishioner of St. John in Westminster.

Emily is a graduate of Delone Catholic High School in McSherrystown, Pa. She holds a bachelor's degree in business communication from Stevenson University.