SPECIAL TO THE CATHOLIC HERALD
With such a deep interest in the faith, did you ever discern a religious vocation?
I discerned becoming a Dominican in college. I visited the national Dominicans and the Ann Arbor Dominicans. I love the charism of studying and praying and sharing the fruits of your contemplation, and I love their prayer life. I just didn’t think I was meant to live in a house with 100 other women, which is ironic because I went on to have seven daughters.
Recently you became a Lay Dominican. Can you tell me about that process?
I was always interested in becoming a Lay Dominican but it never worked out. Last July, I made my final profession, but I began three years before that. When we lived in Maryland, they met on Thursday evenings and I couldn’t make the meetings with any regularity at the time. But when we moved here, I found out they met on Saturday mornings. I had older kids who could babysit; so I was able to make it happen.
When did your interest in Latin Mass begin?
The first Latin Mass I attended was St Alphonsus in Baltimore. I’d never been, and my husband suggested we try it. We were totally ignorant about the fact that it’s a different calendar and a different schedule and everything else; so we showed up for Sunday Latin Mass with four kids and it turned out to be High Mass on the feast of Christ the King and lasted about three hours. It was so beautiful that I honestly didn’t realize it lasted so long. I was stunned.
Why did you decide to go to Latin Mass regularly?
When we moved here, we ended up parish hunting. I went on the Facebook group Milwaukee Catholic Mamas and asked for suggestions. We ended up at a reverent Novus Ordo parish but started reconsidering if the Latin Mass was where we wanted to end up. We prayed and about two years ago moved to St. Stanislaus.
What advice would you give someone who has never attended Latin Mass but wants to?
Most people who go for the first time are coming from a Novus Ordo background and used to having a Missal in their hands and understanding every word. I had a good friend tell me that when she first started going she tried to follow along and got frustrated that she couldn’t. At one point, her husband put his hand on her arm and said, “It’s OK to watch, too.” For me, just being able to sit and savor the liturgy and the Latin and the beauty, that’s enough.
What makes St. Stanislaus unique?
It has a very strong community bond. There’s a group for men, two groups for women, there’s a group for boys and one for girls. They also keep connected even now during this COVID-19 crisis through Facebook. If someone is having a baby, we arrange food. If there’s a question, someone is always there to answer. If someone needs help, there’s always a hand or three reaching out to help. Most of us commute to St. Stan’s; so we’re unique in that, too, that none of us live close together but even then, there’s such a strong sense of community and coming together.
Why do you think so many young Catholics are turning toward traditional teachings?
I think there’s a stability in tradition that’s comforting. When things are constantly changing, having something that doesn’t change helps anchor you. The fact that you have a liturgy that goes back hundreds of years, and a language that would have been heard by so many saints, it connects you and helps you understand where you come from and in that sense, who you are.
How are you trying to bring your children closer to God during this time of separation from the Sacraments?
We watch Mass together every Sunday and pray a family rosary together every day with special intentions and the St Michael prayer and the Memorare and a litany of the Saints for everyone’s patron saint. Each kid says the name of their saint and the rest of us say, “Pray for us” after.
What has been one of your biggest struggles during this crisis?
Because of the rule against there being more than 10 people gathered at a time, most of my children couldn’t come to their sister’s baptism in April. That was very hard.
With eight children, how do you maintain your own faith life and growth?
I try to meditate at night after the kids are in bed before I go to sleep, and that is very important for my prayer life. I try to get some private personal prayer time then. I’m currently reading The Fulfilment of All Desire by Ralph Martin on prayer life. I try to go to daily Mass when I can and even now online.