From one St. Mary’s School to another, one teacher’s love of stamps helps keep a ministry going that serves the poor. You could say this story started back in the early 90’s when retired teacher, Becky Feagan, became interested in stamps while working in the FirsTier Bank’s lockbox department in downtown Omaha. While opening mail she discovered a variety of stamps that were going to be thrown away with the envelopes. With the boss’s permission she was able to tear off the stamps before discarding the envelopes and her stamp collection began. She attended Omaha’s Philatelic Society’s annual stamp show to learn more. Her sons became interested in stamps and then she introduced the hobby to her third grade son’s class- Mrs. Embury’s class.
When Mrs. Feagan became a teacher in 1994 she began to introduce stamp collecting every year in early October since that month is National Stamp Collecting Month. Back then the Iowa Basic Skills Test was administered during the first week of October so after 4-5 days of testing, she tried to break the stress of test taking by spending Friday afternoons introducing stamp collecting to her fourth graders. This evolved into St. Mary’s Stamp Club which she ran for many years.
As school space became a priority, she took boxes of donated stamps home though many boxes were stored up in the school attic too. Upon retirement she cleaned out her area of the attic, bringing home many boxes of stamps. Then with her recent move to a new house the decision to find a good “home” for the stamps became a priority.
After searching she found Sr. Jan Chantel who ran a stamp ministry at the College of St. Mary in South Bend, Indiana. After deciding what to keep for her dream of making a stamp display for St. Mary’s School, she and her husband, Doug, drove to South Bend and donated the stamps and various other stamp related items in the fall.
Sr. Jan Chantel was overwhelmed by the donation yet pleased that her fellow retired nuns would be able to add to their stamp ministry. She explained how the nuns and other volunteers from the city of South Bend, many of them students at St. Mary’s College, soak and prepare the stamps for sale to stamp collectors. They use the profits to help the poor and needy. Prior to the Feagan’s visit, about $10,000 had been made so far in 2016 from the selling of stamps.
It’s amazing when one looks back at how this all began: with a personal interest which then grew due to the generosity of stamp collectors who donated stamps to the school stamp club, to a Catholic college that bears the same name as our school. Within that college’s beautiful tree lined campus, an old brick building provides not only shelter for retired nuns but provides two rooms where an 86 year old nun/nurse, who had ministered in Africa for twenty-two years and then in Oregon and Washington, now continues God’s calling of helping the poor through a simple yet time consuming service. It was a heart-warming experience for both they who gave and she who received. God works in wondrous ways –even through the beauty of every day stamps.
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