Sister Margaret Campbell
Phoenix, AZ

Growing Faith Through Love and Hugs

She’s usually the first to arrive and the last to leave. Especially on Saturdays. It’s been this way for nearly 10 years now, ever since Sister Margaret Campbell, who grew up in Chicago, joined the parish staff at St. Matthew Parish in South Phoenix.

St. Matthew’s is the spiritual heart of a largely Hispanic community that knows hardship. For a brief moment each week, Sister Margaret reminds parishioners of the link between faith and love with a hug and a warm smile.

“My Spanish is not always that good,” Sister Margaret said, “but a hug or smile always translates well.”

Sister Margaret Campbell smilling with a ladyThe scope of Sister Margaret’s ministry changes with the need. She serves as the first point of contact for couples who want to marry in the Church and for those seeking annulments. But she also works with a parish group that delivers communion service to an assisted living facility. She visits women and men who are serving time in the country jail and writes letters to the imprisoned. She even helps St. Matthew students collect pennies and empty cans to raise money for children in Kenya.

And then there are the special projects. Like the one involving Pedro and Pedra, a couple who came to Sister Margaret because they wanted to be married. They had been baptized, as was their child, but none had received First Communion. So while Sister Margaret prepared mom and dad for the sacrament of marriage, she also prepared them for First Communion. At the same time, their child received the same classes in the parish school. On Pedro and Pedra’s wedding day, all three received Holy Communion for the first time. “It was a powerful moment for everyone to be part of,“ Sister recalled.

Sister Margaret giving blessing to a littler girlEach weekend there are two Spanish Masses at St. Matthew parish with an overflow crowd for both. “The people come looking for God’s guidance,” Sister Margaret explained. “Ours is a parish where they know they are welcome, they are safe and they are the Church.” With her smile and hugs, Sister Margaret shows them they are loved as well.