CATHOLIC HERALD STAFF
You’ve had the opposite problem than most people lately — you and your husband are both essential employees and have been working non-stop. Tell us about your job.
I work at Shoreview Pediatrics doing medical billing. We’re like a family, because we’re a small group — maybe 25 of us with the doctors. With everything that’s going on right now with COVID-19, we’re all in it together. Things are uneasy emotionally, but they’re so understanding, and we all love doing our jobs.
How is your job different now, since all this?
It’s so quiet at the office, because we don’t have any well checks or routine visits coming in except for vaccines for 18 months and younger. Kids aren’t in school; so we don’t have sinus infections or other sicknesses that we usually deal with. But it’s an emotional drain, I would say. You hear parents calling in, concerned, and we have had some people test positive for COVID-19. Right now, it’s just your faith that keeps you going.
You grew up at St. Rita Parish, but you said you fell away a bit in your 20s as a young parent — what pulled you back into the Church?
We had different things happen in our family that really brought us back to the faith. My dad had bypass surgery and almost didn’t make it, and that really deepened his faith, so when he and my mom would babysit Andrew they would take him to church. And then we all just started going as a family. The people were so welcoming and it felt like family. When Christopher was born, he was a preemie — just 1 pound, 15 ounces at birth — and the parish really got behind us and supported us then. We tried other parishes when we moved to Brown Deer, but we kept being drawn back to the East Side.
Tell us about your devotion to the Virgin Mary.
She’s helped me ever since I was a little girl. I can still remember doing the May crowning at Ss. Peter and Paul. She’s my go-to saint for everything. I look to her because she went through a lot. Like when my oldest went into the service and was deployed to Afghanistan, I would go to church and pray to her: “How do you let a child go? You’ve been through that. You’ve seen all this stuff and lived through it. Help me to do it, too.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
My husband is a deer hunter; so I told him, this year, after deer hunting, we’re taking care of a bunch of odds and ends around the house. So it’s been perfect that we’re stuck at home so much. He’s been working on the inside, doing all the cleaning, gardening and cooking. But I’ve also been doing some of the Pinterest stuff, looking at recipes and trying some different foods.
What’s a recipe that’s turned out well for you?
Rice ball casserole. I’m Sicilian and Polish, and we Italians have the rice balls, but it’s kind of tedious and difficult to make. So I found a rice ball casserole that’s made in a 9-by-13 pan, and it tastes just like a rice ball.
What is something you’ve learned through the years, dealing with the loss of your dad and other painful situations?
My thing is, don’t let your anger take over — that anger is from Satan. Step back. If I do get mad, I stop and think, and then I say a prayer. And the biggest thing, which our pastor Fr. Tim always says — patience. I hear him on my shoulder going: Patience.
When COVID-19 is in the past and things get back to normal, what do you most look forward to doing?
I’m just looking forward to having life be normal. It’s been so hard for our elderly people — I shop for my mom and an older lady who’s homebound, and it’s so hard on her to not be out in public at all. So many of the pillars of our church community are our older people; so I can’t wait to be back with them. It’s hard to imagine life ever getting back to normal. We’ll get there; I just don’t know when.
Jim loves deer hunting; do you go with him?
I do, but I mostly love just being outdoors. When I sit in the deer stand, that’s my time for peace and quiet. If I see a deer, it’s a bonus.