Michelle Marcellin had been helping with the business-side of Mt. Ireneaus for about two years when the decision came to make a full-time hire. She had been sending out donation letters and working on bookkeeping, a side job while she was working in the financial aid office at St. Bonaventure University.
She loved working with Dan Riley, ofm, and the other friars at the Mountain, so she decided to apply for the full-time job.
“I knew people from all over Western New York were applying,” Marcellin said. “I went in very nervous. I knew everyone but one person — Jim Buzzard who had come down from Buffalo. I mean, Jim was from Big Buffalo. How would I ever impress this guy? He knows his stuff.
“I went into Fr. Dan’s office and there were five people interviewing me. To this day, I have no clue what I said but I knew when I came out I nailed it.
“About three days later, Fr. Dan called me and asked if I could come up to the Mountain. I thought either I got the job or he wants to let me down easy,” she said. “He very nonchalantly said we’d like to offer you this job. I was ecstatic.”
That was 25 years ago.
This summer and fall, the Mountain has been celebrating Michelle’s contributions as the first full-time employee.
Every day brought something new for Michelle, which made her job a never-ending adventure. Her favorite memories, in true Mt. Ireneaus spirit, revolve around the people she’s met and relationships she formed.
“Whenever I think of the Mountain I think my favorite memory is with Fr. Dan Hurley, having “Music on the Mountain” with a bunch of students standing on the front lawn. Hurls was probably 78 or 79 years old. I was talking with somebody and heard this laughter and looked to see Hurls rolling down the hill with the little kids. I laughed so hard. This guy was just phenomenal. He tickled me so many times. He was just a wonderful, wonderful man.
“It’s the same thing with Fr. Dan Riley. When we’re working on stuff, we’re never serious. We’re always kidding around. I love that. I love that my so-called boss is my friend. We enjoy working together. It’s the same with the other friars. I can’t tell you how much those four guys have added to my life and my family’s life.”
The Mountain family has grown over the past 25 years with the addition of more full-time and part-time staff members and that has allowed the Mountain to grow in different ways as well.
“The team in the office has been such a blessing to me and the Mountain,” Michelle said. “They are a huge influence in my life and working with them is such a joy. They are part of the reason the Mountain is thriving in these times.”
It’s clear that to Marcellin, the Mountain is more than a place and more than a job.
“You have to experience it,” she said. “It’s hard to tell people about it. People can get the gist of it, but you have to experience it to really get what it is. It’s just a place to be and no matter what your religious background is or what your faith is now, you’re accepted for who you are. You can just feel at home. No one is judging you. That’s been so huge for me. Throughout my life, I’ve been judged in many different ways, but it never happened with the Mountain. It’s such a wonderful feeling to feel loved and accepted and appreciated.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for bringing me to this point to have this job. It’s not just a job. It’s a ministry. Every aspect of my life is centered around my experience with the Mountain and the people I’ve met there.”