Body of Christ

Q: Everyone has a different faith journey. Could you tell us about yours?

A: I was born and raised Catholic and attended parochial school at St. Gall’s in Milwaukee (now closed). I had a wonderful experience being taught by the Sinsinawa Dominican sisters. I then attended St. John Cathedral High School (now closed). These two institutions provided a great foundation in faith. Like most young adults, there was a period in my life where I said, “I don’t need to practice my faith. I don’t need to go to church.” Essentially, I was saying “I don’t need all of those things that created the meaning and structure of my life.” When I was attending college, I separated myself from my church. During that time, I felt cold, empty, lacking direction — lacking my life compass, if you will. It was a horrible feeling, so I didn’t stay separated from the Church for very long. After college, my husband Jeff and I married and moved to Milwaukee. Jeff was Lutheran at the time, but when we married, we committed to raising our children Catholic. Later, Jeff converted to Catholicism and we grew our faith in God together.

Q: How did your marriage strengthen your faith?

A: I found out early on in our marriage that Jeff was a very holy, prayerful man. He really seemed stronger in faith than myself. I took many things for granted. As our marriage grew, so did our faith. We have had a strong, faithful marriage for 56 years. Jeff is a wonderful man who has been my rock and my compass. When I hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit, he has enabled me to answer those calls.

Q: How have you been active at St. Boniface or, as you put it, responded to the “whisper” of the Lord over the years?

A: I don’t keep a list — though sometimes my husband reminds me of the many things I insert myself into. In 2010, I heard the whisper from the pulpit that the St. Vincent de Paul Society was seeking members. I knew that was the answer to many of the questions that I had in my heart — the yearning to seek and help the needy whenever and wherever possible. That is really my calling. We are blessed at St. Boniface to have a remarkable group of people involved in SVDP — people who have been involved twice as long as I have!.

Q: You said you “insert” yourself into things. Could you give a few examples?

A: I just notice things that need to be done, or people who could use help, and I do what I can to respond. Once I saw overgrown trees on the parish property and I offered to help trim the tree branches. These were big trees. The pastor at the time gave me the nickname “Mighty Might” because my small stature didn’t hold me back from taking on the large, unwieldy branches. I have helped transport the elderly to appointments and ran errands for them — acting as a kind of personal assistant. Other times I’d just visit and chat with them about the news of the day, or their life experiences. It was fun for both of us and enhanced our lives. Oftentimes, the need comes from the pulpit. One pastor, who came to our parish from another country, asked for help getting established. I was part of a group of parishioners who made him meals, helped him set up his residence and assisted with other needs he had as someone who is living in a foreign country. My current pastor needed someone to spearhead our parish photo directory project. Since I had office and organizational experience, he asked me to help. It was a yearlong project and I got to meet a lot of parishioners. It was a lot of fun. Because I spend so much time with people, I am also able to make connections between those who have a need, and those who want to help. There are so many wonderful souls out there who hear the whisper of the Lord and want to respond. When the call is loud and clear, we need to respond.

Q: So, what you call “inserting” yourself is really you hearing the call to be Christ in the world and responding. Is that accurate?

A: It is keeping your eyes and ears open to hear the whisper of our Lord. He does talk to us — often. Sometimes it will come as a tap on the shoulder, saying, “See this? This isn’t right.” Then I know I need to step up and insert myself. I wish more people would be cognizant of hearing that whisper. Blessed Frederic Ozanam (the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul) said the goal of his life was to “become better — to do a little good.” That is my motto. I am convinced my Lord gives me more than 24 hours in a day as I find time to answer his whispers — along with the support of my husband.

Q: You have been a member of St. Boniface since 1995. What makes this parish special?

A: St. Boniface has a rich history. Our church was built of bricks in the 1950s, but the history goes back to the 1840s. St. Boniface was one of the first 18 parishes in the state of Wisconsin and is the oldest parish in Washington County. There was a beautiful edifice built in the 1880s. Then in the 1950s, a fire destroyed the church. The then parishioners rebuilt the church in two years. The constant over the years has been a vibrant and active community of parishioners who are strong in their Catholic faith and in supporting one another, and trying new things. This year for the first time, we will be hosting “Stations of the Cross — Through Mary’s Eyes” on March 15. Last year, Jeff and I attended this special Stations event at Good Shepherd in Menomonee Falls. I asked Mary Oswald of the Good Shepherd faith formation group to help bring this beautiful service to St. Boniface. Mary Oswald has been great to work with. St. Boniface now will bring the thoughts and prayers of Mary as she experienced Christ’s road to Calvary. It’s a moving, prayerful Stations of the Cross. Contact Mary Oswald or me to get this Lenten service in your parish.