Five years ago this month my wife and I moved into our home in Cleburne. We were greeted by new friends and neighbors; some even brought food for us to enjoy while we unpacked our boxes.
Within a short time, I was rubbing shoulders with many community leaders who had a passion for the city they call home. Meeting individuals like Judge Roger Harmon, Sheriff Adam King, Pinnacle Bank President Tim Whitlock, and Mr. Lowell “Stretch” Smith showed me that though these individuals have tremendous responsibilities and are greatly respected, they are all humble, down-to-earth, caring individuals, all desiring what is best for Cleburne.
I was invited to attend the Cleburne Christian Business Club that meets the first Monday morning of every month and orchestrates the Holy Week Services. It is here that people from many different faiths worship together and pray for one another. I had never experienced anything like this before. I realized that Cleburne has something very special. I was warmly welcomed and soon honored as a relatively new Cleburnite to serve as the Club’s president.
On Monday evening of this past week, the wonderful community of Cleburne once again was manifested in a mighty way. Several of us who attended this special gathering shared that we had never experienced another community coming out in support of one of their own in this manner. As a little background, Cathy Marchel serves as the President and CEO of the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce. Those who know Cathy understand that she loves the community and her enthusiasm and skill motivates others to do the same. She was honored in 2014 as Woman of the Year in Cleburne. Serving on the Chamber board as an ex officio director, I experienced firsthand Cathy’s dynamic and positive personality and it became very clear why she received this recognition. It was about two years ago now that we as a community were saddened to learn that Cathy was diagnosed with cancer. During these past months of receiving treatments, she has always remained positive and selfless, continuing to give back to the city she loves.
Last week, news was shared through several listservs that a special gathering would take place at Cathy’s home. Arriving 10 minutes early, I noted around 100 community members already standing in her front yard. In a few moments, Cathy and her family came out of their front door and we all erupted in a round of applause, expressing our thanks to her for making our community a better place to live and work and expressing our deep concern for her well-being. Cathy was visibly moved by the outpouring of love that was shown by those present. Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain made some beautiful remarks about Cathy then asked if we would divide up into small groups to pray for her.
In the small group that I joined, I felt the passion and care each person had for Cathy as their prayers were sincere and heartwarming. Mayor Cain then asked us to form a circle around Cathy and her family, then he offered an earnest prayer for healing. All of our hearts were bound in our hopes that Cathy would be healed from her cancer. As I left this very special gathering, I could not help but think of the wonderful community we have in Cleburne; I am truly blessed to be a part of it and to call Cleburne my home!
This article is an opinion piece written by President Shaw for the Cleburne Times Review