When Carol Meckler began leading Bible study at St. Hedwig Catholic Church in 1978, she was 39 and married with young children.
Today Meckler is nearly 84 years old, widowed, and in her 45th year of hosting the parish Bible study every Thursday, in the morning and evening.
“Most Catholics don’t study the Bible,” Meckler observed, “but if we know the word of God it makes us free.
“When I read Scripture, I know exactly what’s going on and I can share it with the people around me,” she continued. “It’s exciting.”
Meckler first experienced Bible study when she accompanied a friend to a Scripture class held in a Baptist church. Because of the attendees’ anti-Catholic sentiments, the experience soured and repelled her.
Those feeling changed in 1972 when she experienced a conversion, inviting Holy Spirit into her life.
“The first thing I wanted to do was to learn the word of God,” she recalled.
“No one [Catholic churches] had Bible study,” she adds, noting that a number of Catholics left the church to attend Bible-based, evangelical Protestant services.
“You can’t understand the word of God unless you study it,” she said. “It is life-giving.”
For more than 10 years, Meckler developed her own study guides and created curriculum. Once they became available, she switched to materials from Catholic publishers.
It’s Meckler’s longtime passion for the Bible that continues to inspire, says Sue Goldberg, who has participated for six years.
“I was hesitant about Bible study at first,” Goldberg remembered, “but it has brought me back to the faith.” Lisa Schorr, a student and small group leader with St. Hedwig Bible Study since 1995, agreed. Schorr calls Meckler “a 5-foot-tall bundle of faith, knowledge, kindness and truth.
“Her knowledge of the Bible is unbelievable; however, when you take into account her 50 years of commitment to the pursuit of knowledge, her passion for truth and her love of Scripture and her Catholic faith, you get a woman of excellence.”
Parish Administrator Father Quan Tran is grateful for Meckler’s service and believes that Bible study draws Catholics closer to the Lord.
“God speaks to us through Scripture,” Fr. Tran explained. “Bible study encourages us to enter more deeply into our relationship with the Holy Trinity.
“The word of God is living and effective,” he added, quoting from the book of Hebrews. “God really does speak to us, teach us, and inform us through Scripture. We gain knowledge, objective insight, and deepen our relationship with God.”
Linda Milligan, a 15-year Bible study participant, agreed. She appreciates Meckler’s leadership and says the study has improved her life dramatically.
“Carol is a joy,” Milligan said. “She makes Scripture come alive.”
As someone who’s participated and invited others to join her, Mary Anne van der Linden credits St. Hedwig Bible Study with making her a better Christian.
“This has so enriched my life,” van der Linden said, adding that she now prays and studies the Bible often on her own. Meckler’s decades of selfless dedication to leading Bible study make her a lasting inspiration to Catholics, parishioners agree.
“Carol is a servant of God in everything she does,” noted Karen Swenson. “She wants each one of us to learn about God and love Him back.”