Mary Lu Wells refers to herself as a “cradle Episcopalian.”
“I’ve been an Episcopalian since birth,” says the Norwalk, Connecticut native, whose family moved to Florida when she was in middle school, rooting themselves in Lantana. St. Andrew’s played a role early on.
“Father Frazell confirmed me at St. Andrew’s when I was 12 years old,” she remembers. Her family later joined Guardian Angels church when it opened in Lantana.
A Lake Worth High School graduate, Mary Lu attended Palm Beach Junior College, and then went on to graduate from Florida Atlantic University. She became a clinical research scientist, performing research and clinical trials related to neurology and gastroenterology. “I worked in hospitals and traveled a lot too. It was a great job—I loved it!” Specifically, she worked on drug trials to treat Alzheimer’s disease. “I felt doing this work was a gift God gave me to touch people’s lives in a special way.”
Mary Lu and first husband Gary Sullivan raised their two children, Christopher, and Kerri, in Lantana. She married her second husband, Bob Wells in 2003. “Our daughters were best friends in high school,” says Mary Lu, “We already knew each other!” Mary Lu and Bob settled in Lake Clarke Shores and became members of Holy Spirit church in West Palm Beach. Together they have five beautiful grandchildren: four boys and one girl.
“Holy Spirit was a very small, close congregation,” she says. Unfortunately, the church suffered financial issues and closed during the pandemic. “We really tried hard to keep it open, but we knew in our hearts it wouldn’t survive. It was traumatic. We needed to find a new church.”
Finding A New Spiritual Home At St. Andrew’s
Mary Lu and Bob’s search was short-lived. They turned to St. Andrew’s, joining the congregation about a year ago.
“We couldn’t have asked for better church to transfer to!” beams Mary Lu. “It has strong connections with the greater community and serves so many different facets including the gay community and the homeless. The church touches people’s hearts in so many ways, through worship, Organist Joanne Nelson and the wonderful music ministry, and cultural events. Plus, the laid-back, friendly atmosphere is appealing, and we’ve reconnected with old friends.”
Mary Lu appreciates Rev. Cori Olson’s sermons. “They are the best! She teaches as she preaches and makes the readings more accessible. She is so gifted. I believe she loves being a priest—it’s what she’s meant to do. She lives her life for the Lord. Plus, you can really connect with her as a person, and she has a great sense of humor!”
Getting Involved Post-COVID
As COVID restrictions loosened, Mary Lu jumped into service, volunteering as a reader, baking for the Way Café, and serving on the Altar Guild. She’s also excited to serve as secretary of St. Andrew’s new chapter of the Daughters of the King (DOK), an order of prayer and service for women. “I joined DOK about 25 years ago. It’s always been a part of my life. We pray as a unit.”
Known as a talkative and outgoing person, Mary Lu views service as an opportunity to quietly serve the Lord. “It feels a need in my heart.”
5 Questions for Mary Lu Wells
What is your favorite hymn? “Lift High The Cross” and “Amazing Grace”
What is something not many people know about you? Zip lining is on my “bucket list.”
Do you prefer singing in the shower or your car? I sing everywhere.
What service do you usually attend? Sunday, 10:00 a.m.
How would you St. Andrew’s in a word or phrase? Spirit-filled.