Thomas Rebholz, 21, is better known as “Nino” – a family nickname that stuck since birth, thanks to his Italian genes. He’s the baby in the family with a sister Sarah, 24, and a brother Peter, 23. Born in Rochester, Michigan, he came to Milwaukee in fourth grade and attended Christ King Parish, Wauwatosa. He said that back then he was a “cradle Catholic.” It wasn’t until he went to college that his faith was tested by skeptics.
Today, he’s a Bible study leader at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Newman Center where he helps organize Tuesday night student supper , volunteers at St. Ben’s Meal kitchen, and plays music for Sunday liturgy. He has also volunteered for retreats with his home parish. At UWM he studies marketing and supply chain management and he’s excited to start a career. In 2015, he’d like to volunteer more at St. Ben’s and admits he has missed a few volunteering opportunities.
School and/or occupation:
Senior, but I’m going to be a fifth-year senior – a “super-senior” — marketing and supply chain management.
What is your dream job?
Well, I suppose I’d like to be involved in sales and advertising, and if I can use that to help the faith in any way, that’d be great. Otherwise, I’m excited to kind of just get a career and bring the faith to wherever I go.
What’s on your iPod?
I like listening to some bluegrass, some good rock ‘n’ roll jam bands, and then I do have a decent amount of Christian rock for sure. I like The Allman Brothers. I like The Avett Brothers. I like the band Phish, and then I like Chris Tomlin and Matt Maher and Kari Jobe — those are the Christian rock guys.
If you could dine with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I’d probably like to dine with Abraham Lincoln, just because that was a pretty tumultuous time and he had to be pretty bold. He was up against a lot of scrutiny, but he persevered and did what was right.
Who has made the biggest impact upon you?
I would have to say my dad because he was always there when I was questioning the faith and a little skeptical; he was always there to show me good resources to answer my questions.
Describe a normal weekend:
I suppose a lot of it would be working. I work as a restaurant chef at John’s Sandwich Shop, so I like to cook and things like that. Working and then coming home and being with friends is great, and then spending a lot of time at the Newman Center on Sunday, watching football, doing homework, I guess.
What’s one thing that makes you unique?
I have really, really stretchy neck skin, kind of bizarre, but that’s something unique about me. I have a really, really intense loud sneeze also, but then if you want something a little more standard, I play a few instruments (ukulele, bass guitar and piano). I own a sword.
Favorite Bible story/scripture passage/prayer:
I would say Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 15, just because that was pretty pivotal in my personal conversion, the whole chapter.
I wasn’t always very riled about Catholicism or Christianity in general, a cradle Catholic, but as soon as I got to public university, my beliefs were immediately questioned because one of my best friends was an atheist, so for about a year to two years, I was kind of very not very practicing Catholic, but I started to do a lot of research and I became fascinated with historical, archeological and authentic defenses for what Christianity is, and when you look at that, I found that all of St. Paul’s letters were not only super fascinating, but I would say supernatural, and that was pretty strong in my conversion, among many other things, of course, but that was big.
“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” ~ Lord of the Rings
What is your favorite food, dessert?
A mean gyro is up there for me, and then I would have to say some classic vanilla ice cream.
A challenge in life that has strengthened your faith:
Definitely being questioned and living among a ton of skeptics. It doesn’t sound like something that would strengthen the faith, but if you get questioned and then you start answering these questions and you start researching these questions.
I find that Jesus always has a way to answer and answer pretty well. So, being faced with skeptics has pushed me to learn more and the answers have always been there for me.
Well, I definitely like playing music and playing music for audiences in addition to playing every Sunday. I was in a band (Fat Side Down – around the Milwaukee area) for many years, and definitely anything I can do with music is a big hobby of mine. Other than that, I’m a movie nut (action/adventure or drama, for sure. I’m not really a romantic comedy type of guy) I like going to movies. I played lacrosse in high school. That was a good pastime. I kind of miss that.
What is the most important thing you want to accomplish in life?
I suppose to ultimately be able to see lives that I’ve encountered be impacted in one way or another. I’d like to see like tangible dividends of following the faith, things I can, see people whose lives I can see that I bettered, hopefully, through Jesus obviously, and then ideally, having a family and living life to the fullest, something like that.
How do you live your faith every day?
Well, I’ve always found simple and random acts of kindness to be some of the best things you do. I always try to do even the little things. Outside of that, daily devotionals is huge, and then when the semester starts, I’m spending time at the Newman Center. That provides easy ways to have encounters with Jesus and with others.
Name one guilty pleasure:
Definitely ramen noodles and microwave burritos.