Sr. Mary Elizabeth Preston: A Spiritual Presence
Sr. Mary Elizabeth (Beth) Preston has served as a Pastoral Associate in St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Oxford, CT since 1989 with the exception of 2 ½ years as director of St. Ursula Retreat Center. She has been responsible for every aspect of parish ministry including Religious Education and Faith Formation, Pastoral Care and Bereavement, and Stewardship.
The leadership of the parish, which consists of the pastor and nine ministers, Sr. Beth and eight lay men and women, is a model of a center circle with other circles branching out. Decisions are made by working toward consensus. This can be time consuming but in the end all own the decision.
The parish offers intergenerational faith formation where Sr. Beth teaches the adult sessions. Sr. Beth offers Spiritual Direction to everyone and offers a variety of spiritual programs such as “Women of the Bible,”and “Women Saints as Role Models,”as well as programs on Vatican II Spirituality, Centering Prayer, Guided Imagery and Lectio Divino.
Sr. Beth supervises all aspects of liturgy including organizing liturgical decorations and the training of Altar Servers, Lectors and Extraordinary Ministers of Communion. She served as the general contractor for the building of the Parish Center. She loves being in a place where you get to know the rhythm of the parish and the people and feels it is important to put down roots and stay with people.
Sr. Beth sees herself as a resource person. She mentors the staff, mostly by listening. Her goal, with both the staff and the parishioners is to help them to help others. She hopes they can learn to love God and let God love them.