Are you a cradle Catholic, or a convert?
I often describe myself as a “pew rat.” My parents’ lives revolved around their parishes. My childhood was mostly at Mother of Perpetual Help and I adored the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother teachers I had. I was an only child until I was 6 and my mother took me to choir practice with her. An early memory is coloring while she sang. I know this cemented my love of sacred music and liturgy.
So, faith has always been a big part of your identity.
Faith has been a central part of my life. I prayed to marry someone who would pray with me … and behold, Tom showed up in my life. Our lives, too, have revolved around our parishes. My entire professional life has been spent working in the Church. Matching theology and journalism in college shaped me. Then I worked three years at the Catholic Herald Citizen as an editor and then three years as an editor at US CATHOLIC before I ventured to campus ministry at Marquette.
What do you hope your students took away from their time in your classes?
I hope they took away further knowledge of the Gospels and the teachings of Jesus Christ and a knowledge of and appreciation of Catholic Social teaching. Two students (unchurched) who took my class on Dorothy Day converted to Catholicism because of what they learned.
Do you still keep in touch with any of your students?
The students keep in touch with me … literally. And we had a “late baby” when I was almost 40. Imagine how much fun it was to have him study at Marquette 18 years later with sons and daughters of my former students.
What was the greatest joy of the campus ministry portion of your work?
I haven’t been in Campus Ministry for 20 years, but I suspect having the privilege to listen to and walk with students as they negotiate their own faith journey and its necessary challenges and difficult questions.
You and Tom just celebrated your 46th wedding anniversary — do you have any wisdom you want to share that has helped you build such a lasting marriage?
For us, faith is the center of our lives. My husband was diagnosed with ALS in 2016. If not for the Daily Examen and learning to be attentive to God’s movements within our days and the many things we are grateful for, I am not sure how we would endure. I would advise couples to find ways to pray together, to get involved with your parish community and attend Mass. We long for the day of safety in attending Mass, but at our age and with Tom’s medical situation, we are just not there because of COVID-19. Our sons and their families are all involved at their own parishes. We are so proud that they have not wavered in the practice of their own faith. And our youngest son is campus minister at Fairfield University. We are able to Zoom the Masses he coordinates and often get to hear him accompany the cantor in their COVID-safe environment.
How do you keep in touch with your five grandchildren during these times of social distancing?
Zoom and FaceTime are our friends. Our five grandkids’ ages run from nearly 2 to 17. But we sure miss the hugs … and the laughs. Our sons and their children all inherited my husband’s brilliant mind and witty verbal skills. We laugh a lot.
What do you do to relax in your free time?
I am laughing here. I love to read mostly historical fiction that informs me about days and cultures of times past. I play at golf, and Tom and I enjoy bridge (will we ever be able to play in person and not online again?) and rides into the country or along the lake to enjoy the wonders of God’s creation. I am also a member of the Christ Child Society and value the dedication of the all-volunteer society that focuses on the needs of children.