Body of Christ

  • Originally from Racine, she was the youngest in a family of five — with two older brothers. She attended Sacred Heart/John Paul II Academy and St. Catherine’s High School.
  • In 2013, Dresen received the St. John Paul II Award for Youth and Young Adult Leadership, an award given annually to a young Catholic (ages 14-22, high school or college) who has demonstrated exemplary leadership and involvement in the Church, and is recognized by adults and peers alike as a young person who is making a positive impact in the present and future Church.
  • She earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising from Marquette University and an M.A. in theology from the University of Notre Dame.
  • Before stepping into her current role at St. Leonard, Dresen served as the director of faith formation at St. John Vianney Parish on St. Pete Beach in Florida.

Everyone has a different faith journey. How did yours start?

I was baptized as an infant and grew up going to Mass with my family. I also attended my parish’s elementary school (Sacred Heart/John Paul II Academy in Racine). I became an altar server in middle school, which expanded my understanding of reverence because posture and attentiveness were necessary for the role and set an example for the assembly. I also remember there was something cool about seeing everything at the altar up close. In eighth grade, my class attended John Bosco Youth Day at Holy Hill, which helped me understand God’s love in a new way and motivated me to be more engaged. This led to leadership roles in campus ministry in high school and college. At Marquette, I volunteered with the RCIA team and Ignite program. I also received spiritual direction for the first time, which helped me learn to (at least try to) incorporate prayer into daily life. Through prayer and involvement in campus ministry, I discerned that I wanted to continue serving the Church after college, although I wasn’t sure exactly in what discipline.

Today, you are serving the Church through your role in communications at St. Leonard. How did you discern that path for yourself?

At Marquette, I studied advertising, and spent a lot of time outside of coursework involved in different roles in campus ministry. My coursework fulfilled some of my interests, but I could tell it wasn’t the full picture. Being interested in sacramental formation, catechesis and Church communications, I applied for and started the Echo Faith Formation Leadership Program at the University of Notre Dame. Through this program, I earned an M.A. in theology and completed a catechetical apprenticeship at Nativity Catholic Church in the Diocese of St. Petersburg in Brandon, Florida. During that apprenticeship, I spent a lot of time helping with RCIA and Confirmation preparation. After my apprenticeship, I stayed in Florida and worked as the director of faith formation at St. John Vianney Parish on St. Pete Beach. After two years, I recognized that it was time to try something different and that I wanted to return home. Applying for jobs helped me discern my next area of specialization. I started my role at St. Leonard as the director of communications and marketing in January 2023.

What do you like about your current role?

I like getting to be creative, researching new solutions for communications needs, and supporting an organization with a good cause that’s doing so much good. It gives me hope to see a parish and school community steadily growing and flourishing like St. Leonard. It’s wonderful to see the church so full on Sundays, for people to actively participate in the Mass, to see quality education and formation, and for people to be so generous with their time and resources. St. Leonard prioritizes its mission by keeping it central in everything, and seeking new ways to live that mission. It requires creativity and dedication from so many people within our faith community, and that is what St. Leonard continues to be fueled by.

In 2013, you received the Vatican II Award for Young Adults in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. What did that mean to you and what challenges do you see facing today’s young adults trying to live as faithful Catholics?

Receiving the Vatican II Award was a neat experience. Both then and now, I was/am curious how the small things I try to do are cause for recognition. Regardless, I felt quite honored. A challenge facing young adults in being faithful Catholics (or anyone, really) is when we’re disappointed in leadership within the Church, which could mean any number of things. Sometimes, we hear polar opposite teachings from different voices within the Church, and that causes division among us. Sometimes, those we encounter in the Church are harmful, and I honestly don’t expect anyone to easily get over that. Sometimes, we offer constructive feedback or new ideas, but we’re not always listened to.

Those are very real challenges. How can they be overcome?

I’m convinced the Church and the whole world will benefit from people becoming better listeners. That doesn’t mean we should be ignorant, complacent or a doormat but to approach situations with curiosity and gentleness. We should be moved by our broken hearts to advocate for/create change when things aren’t right, but nothing gets accomplished by battling with others. I’ve learned that the hard way. And then help each other find our voices.