You’ve known your husband almost your whole life. How did you two meet?
Our story is kind of fun — we were the rowdy Catholics who moved next door to the Skiffs in 1979. They were Evangelical Christians, and they started their church in their living room. We would do youth group with them, and they would come over and watch TV at our house because we had cable and they didn’t. We joked it was the match made in Heaven.
What makes you passionate about working in campus ministry?
I love that everything we do in campus ministry is meaningful work. One of our priests at Holy Family, Fr. Edward Sanchez, mentioned something in a homily that has stayed with me. He said that we think we’re going to do all these things for God, when really all we need to do is create the space for God to do his work. That just hit me so hard. That’s what I feel like campus ministry is. It’s creating the space for God to do the work, whether that’s having three Masses every Friday, hosting lunch with the high school kids and Fr. Justin, our chaplain, or transforming the gym twice a year and bringing in 15 priests so everybody can go to confession.
How do you engage with kids on topics of religion?
I think the answer is just to be in relationship with them. You can throw all the programs at them you want, but I think the really important thing is to get to know them, understand where they’re at and make yourself available to them. The biggest fruits I’ve seen have come from simply being available to kids, especially when they are going through a difficult situation — being there to listen, or making arrangements for them to meet with a priest. This isn’t exactly engaging in the “topic” of religion as much as it is modeling what Christ asks us to do for him.
You’re involved in the Seven Sisters Apostolate at Holy Family. What’s that all about?
The Seven Sisters Apostolate is where seven women each devote one hour of prayer, one day a week, for one priest. We have this set up for four of the priests on our priest team. This means each priest has a woman praying one hour, specifically for him, every day of the week. I cannot think of a better gift we can give our priests than our prayers — they do so much and they need so much. But now I tell them, “You better watch out. You’ve got all these people praying for you — what is God going to ask of you?”
As a mom of eight boys, what’s the best parenting advice you can share with us?
We are so hard on ourselves as moms, aren’t we? My youngest is 13, and I still don’t feel like I know what I’m doing. I guess I would say, take your kids to Mass. I’m grateful because my mom always brought us to church, and that could not have been easy — I didn’t realize that until I brought my own. I don’t think I heard any of the readings at Mass for 15 years. But, I feel like God understands and honors the sacrifice, and he makes up for the difference in what’s lacking in us. We’re giving our kids something so precious. Just bring them, and ask God to make up the difference.
You and Jordan have given yourself a pretty fun goal: to hike the Ice Age Trail in 10 years. How did that come about?
We enjoy hiking, and we thought, “Let’s do it,” and this way, if we had a goal, we would actually follow through with it. The Ice Age Trail is about 600 miles of marked trails and 500 miles of roads connecting the segments of trails. It starts in Door County, ends in St. Croix and finagles through Wisconsin. I can’t say that we did well with it at all this past year — life got crazy and we only went out a couple of times. But, it’s a goal, and I love even the thought of it. We still have eight years.
What do you do to relax?
I’m a convert to birdwatching. We moved out to Mount Calvary last summer, and the previous owners of our house left me all their birdfeeders. I didn’t have any idea what to do with them, but I called a friend who’s a bird lover, and he told me what to get at Fleet Farm. I never understood the fascination so many have with birds. I totally get it now. I’m shocked by how much I love this. I think it’s God’s way of getting me to be still.