Living Our Witness

  • Pavlovich has taught theology at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, Milwaukee, since 2013.
  • A member of St. Charles, Hartland, Pavlovich is a lector.
  • Pavlovich and his wife, Vanessa, have three children who attend St. Charles School and he coaches baseball and basketball teams of school children.
  • Pavlovich earned a master’s degree from Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, in religious studies; a master’s degree from Alverno College, Milwaukee, in elementary education; and a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He also is a graduate of Marquette University High School and Holy Cross Grade School, both in Milwaukee.
  • He is a U.S. Army veteran who became a financial representative for Northwestern Mutual for several years before pursuing a teaching career.

Why did you decide to change professions and specialize in high school theology for the past 11 years?

I really loved my job as a financial representative at Northwestern Mutual. I worked with some truly wonderful people and felt like my work was important, but I simply felt called in a different direction. I started coaching the fifth-grade girls basketball team at St. Jude the Apostle in Wauwatosa (my former parish), and I knew after one practice that I was being called to work in a Catholic school setting. After much discernment, I began making plans to transition out of the financial services industry and into a career in teaching. From the time I was a young boy, I always loved learning about my faith and studying theology, so a career as a theology teacher seemed the most natural course of action. I tell my students that one of the benefits of being a career-changer is that I now know that if I had 25 lives, I would live every single one of them as a teacher of theology.

What insights have your students brought to your own faith?

One of the best things I can say about my students is that they demand rigor in their faith formation. They are not intellectually satisfied by sub-rational arguments, and they definitely will not tolerate being told that they must blindly believe something. Rather, they seek a supra-rational faith; one that goes beyond reason alone. In our increasingly secularized society, what a gift it is to have students whose curiosity demands that their teachers draw upon the very rich intellectual tradition of our faith (Augustine, Aquinas, Bonaventure, Newman, de Lubac, Lewis, Ratzinger, etc.) in order to help them wrestle with God.

At one time, you played in a rock band – is that still true? Why has music been a big part of your life?

I do indeed still sing in a band. Yacht’s Landing is a group of musically inclined ne’er-do-wells who perform exciting covers of all your favorite yacht rock tunes from the 70’s and 80’s. We’ll be performing at American Family Field as part of the Brewers Yacht Rock Theme Night on July 26. Come aboard … we’re expecting you.

I guess the reason that music has played such a big role in my life is that I grew up in a household filled with music. I can’t even begin to count how many times a song would come on the radio and my father would tell me a story associated with it. I always marveled at the way he could associate a song with a specific moment in his life. It helped me to discover that music really is a very special kind of magic that can bring you back in time and allow you to relive some of the most important moments in your life.

How long have you been the varsity assistant softball coach at DSHA and what drew you to that?

I’ve been coaching at DSHA since 2013 and have served as the varsity assistant swim coach, freshman B basketball coach, JV2 softball head coach, and now, for the last two seasons, as the varsity assistant softball coach. Family life has meant that I needed to cut down to one sport a few years back and baseball/softball are where my true passions lie.

Can you share a little about your experience as your school’s Holy Land pilgrimage moderator? How has the Hamas-Israel war impacted that?

Getting to see the Holy Land in person was such a life-changing experience. Not only was it the fulfillment of a life-long, personal dream, but it was such a gift to see it through the eyes of my students. There was a great deal of research involved in mapping out the places I wanted to visit and that I wanted my students to see, but it has absolutely changed for the better the way that I read and hear Sacred Scripture. I have been blessed with the great good fortune to have led two groups on this pilgrimage and in so doing, I have formed a life-long friendship with our tour guide, Maurice, with whom I keep in contact quite regularly. Originally, the plan was to bring a group of students to Israel every other year. Obviously, those plans have changed quite a bit now, given the uncertainty and conflict in the region. Still, I remain prayerful and hopeful that I’ll be able to resume bringing students to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and his Apostles again one day in the not-too-distant future.

What are your plans for Father’s Day?

I tend to leave that planning to other people, so I don’t really know yet, but it tends to involve either a family cook-out with my wife and children, and my wife’s parents, or a nice brunch somewhere after attending Mass at Holy Hill.

What is something that inspires you?

I am always inspired when I encounter someone who has very clearly mastered their craft (parents, religious leaders, teachers, coaches, musicians, authors, etc.). When I think about the people in my own life who I admire the most, I’m also generally very moved by those people who bear the most responsibility and who do so with grace.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

In stirquiliniis invenitur (in filth shall it be found).” – Carl Jung

Often times, what I most want to find, will be found where I least want to look. This might mean that I need to look in some pretty dark places (including inside myself) to find what I am looking for. It might mean that I have to embrace the responsibility of picking up my cross. But, if I’m willing to confront the darkness forthrightly and voluntarily pick up the heaviest thing I can carry, I generally find that somewhere therein lies the brightest light. This realization has helped me to accept the mantle of responsibility that comes with knowing that things would be a lot better if I were a lot better.

What is the best advice you generally give?

I try to remind my students regularly that, because they each have a spark of the divine inside them and are made in the Imago Dei, that there is way more to them than there is to any catastrophe they might be facing.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

  1. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I still consider the Chicago Cubs to be (technically-speaking) a professional baseball team.
  2. I believe very strongly that the Cincinnati Reds Baseball Club should be required to wear red cleats as part of their uniform, and I cannot be convinced otherwise. This is a hill on which I am willing to die.
  3. Sometimes I like to fill up my bathtub with water, then turn on the shower and pretend I’m in a submarine that’s been hit.

What is your favorite thing to do in the summer and why?

I miss a fair amount of time with my family during my coaching seasons, so summer really is a time for us to just be together as a family. We love to travel in the summer and try to alternate from summer to summer between at least one road trip and an international trip. My wife is from Lima, Peru, and we travelled there to visit some of her family two summers ago. It was beautiful to see my wife with her grandmother for the first time in many years, and for our children to get meet that side of our family. This summer we will be travelling to Mackinac Island, Michigan, for the first time. I’m very blessed to have extended time off in the summer to make such wonderful memories with my wife and children.