I write to share the sad news that Pat Mader Stalker, co-founder of what is today known as CVN, passed away last week in New Jersey at the age of 81.
In 1963, along with her brother Fr. George Mader (d. 2018), the Newark Liaison Foreign and Domestic Lay Apostolate was begun in the Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey. The catalyst for this endeavor came largely from Pat, who had served for a year as a volunteer in Farmville, North Carolina with the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart. As Fr. George recognized the impact serving had on Pat, he got the idea to start an organization to promote lay volunteer/mission service. The vision was to create a “Church Peace Corps.” You can read more about the history here.
Pat’s passion was a major force in the deep partnership with her brother. Jim Lindsay, CVN’s Executive Director from 1996 to 2016, says that “they had a great deal of love and respect for one another.” I experienced her commitment a few years ago when I visited with her, her husband, and two of her sons.
I remember the insight and awareness in her questions about CVN. I could tell that our mission remained strongly in her heart and mind after all those years. She cared about the efforts programs were making, and how all of us were adapting to a new time with new needs. She even challenged me on a few of my ideas, but did so with such a great spirit. And a playful smile.
Although my time then and in subsequent phone conversations with her were limited, I learned that Pat’s way was to support, but not sugar-coat! Jim Lindsay echoes this in saying “they were very supportive of me, even if they did not always agree with all the changes we were making.” What a great way to be. What a gift to those doing their best to carry on a vision.
Pat also supported others at CVN. Katie Mulembe, who recently left CVN after 13 years as an employee, remembers meeting Pat during a recruiting trip to Seton Hall.
“I was tabling outside of the cafeteria, which many recruiters will agree is one of the most challenging recruitment approaches. Pat brought me a snack and joined me at the table, pulling student after student in to let them know why they needed to consider post-graduate service. It had probably been decades since her last recruitment event, but she still had the talking points down and her excitement about service was as strong as ever. During the brief lulls at the table, she fondly recalled stories of the early days of CVN, where she and Fr. George drove around the country to help communities get their volunteer programs off the ground. I realized that day that so much of what CVN has become is the direct result of her remarkable vision and commitment.”
Earlier this week, Jim Lindsay and I attended Pat’s small, brief graveside service in New Jersey. During his remarks, her son David said that his mom wanted the service to be simple; that she did not want people making a fuss. The service was indeed simple, but she was not. She was an extraordinary person acting in faith to help volunteers, an organization, and her family.
As Jim and I walked away, someone approached to ask if we were the ones who supported the volunteering. Helen Mader (Fr. George’s sister) said she remembered us, reiterated how much the mission of CVN meant to Pat, and thanked us. Since we were right there, it was logical to do so. But she was really thanking all of you for allowing the fruits of Pat’s vision to continue to grow.
Pat cared. You care. You honor her with a passion for serving, and by doing your best to empower others to serve. Simple, right?
Please join me in praying for her husband of 50 years, Al, and her sons David, James and Joseph. Pat’s obituary is here. The family plans to hold a larger service when it is safe to do so.
With gratitude for vision and passion,
Catholic Volunteer Network