Ruth Sulava teaches ‘Nut Roll 101’ at Leechburg parish

By Maria Guzzo
Contributing Writer

LEECHBURG – Ruth Sulava teaches Nut Roll 101 at Christ the King Parish, schooling fellow volunteers on the intricacies of fundraising via flour, sugar and butter.

It’s not technically a class, but at age 101, Sulava shares her extensive experience, time, talent and treasure to head the nut, apricot and poppyseed roll and Paska bread fundraiser at the parish where most of the volunteers, with one exception, range in age from mid-60s to 80s – mere youngsters to their seasoned leader.

Father Alan N. Polczynski, pastor of Christ the King Parish and St. Gertrude in nearby Vandergrift, said it’s Sulava’s encouraging demeanor and faithful passion for helping her parish that teaches others about using the talents God gave them to assist others and honor God.

“She provides that beautiful model of good stewardship and carries out what it means,” he said. “She’s very humble about it. She doesn’t want attention. But this is her way of giving back.”

Sulava started out as a volunteer decades ago at the former St. Martha Parish before Christ the King Parish was created. Over the years, she ended up taking the helm, planning the calendar, ordering ingredients, setting up tables, tracking records and inventory, and discerning just the right dough thickness and filling amount.

Her hands are addled by arthritis and she says she’s shorter than she used to be years ago when she could roll the dough and pop trays of loaves in and out of the ovens herself, but fellow volunteers and her pastor say she has a sharp mind and spirited energy.

“I’m grateful my brain is still good,” Sulava said during the recent nut roll baking event in the parish hall, where volunteers rolled out 1,300 confections before Easter.

That and a similar pre-Thanksgiving baking marathon are the church’s main fundraisers, Father Polczynski said.

“I’ve cut back on what I do, but the others are getting pretty good at it,” Sulava said. “We have the best crew.”

Sulava says she doesn’t worry about having enough volunteers.

“God always supplies us with enough and answers a lot of prayers,” she said. “I’m just the one who gets it started. All the others make it a success.”

Sulava said staying active keeps her young, noting that a friend once told her “Just because you’re old, you don’t need to just sit in a rocking chair.”

Father Polczynski said she’s very encouraging to the other volunteers.

“She has a beautiful disposition about her and is able to instruct people in a loving way, but she gets it done how it’s supposed to get done,” he said. “And she’s passing that on to the next generation.”

At just 37, parishioner Sadie Minick is the youngest of the crew. She said she is inspired by Sulava and volunteers on the weekends when she’s not at work.

“Everyone is busy,” Minick said. “You just have to come when you can. This is how I can give back, too.”



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