Give Us Shepherds

What was family life like for you growing up? 

Crowded. I had three brothers and three sisters. But, we always had enough space; we had a nice big yard and a wonderful time together. My mom and dad added to the house twice to fit all of us. My grandparents were founding members of Blessed Sacrament Parish. My dad and mom were always extremely involved in the parish — everything from pastoral council to home and school association, they were involved in. A lot of our childhood revolved around going to school or doing things at school. We went to Cub Scouts and the CYO group when we were teenagers. We spent a lot of time there.

Did you ever discern the priesthood? 

I did. When I was in grade school, I thought about maybe being a priest because the sisters at Blessed Sacrament were always asking me about it. I thought about it and continued to think about it when I went to Marquette High School, but when I got to college at UW-Milwaukee and met my wife Sue, the rest is history.

How did you meet Sue? 

We knew a big group of people that would do different activities together and we hit it off quickly. We were married in 1989 and, in that year, there were about seven couples from our group that got married.

Where did your career path take you after you ruled out the priesthood? 

I ended up working for H Worldwide Moving and Storage as a financial analyst but then moving into healthcare finance. I worked at Froedtert for 17 ½ years and now I’ve been with Ascension for almost eight years.

Did the faith always mean what it means to you now? 

I was a cradle Catholic, and always involved in church. Even as a young family, my wife and I always stayed involved but, as our kids grew up and we started launching them into college, I felt like I needed to do something more.

When did you know that ‘something more’ was the diaconate? 

For a while, I was getting these little nudges, this sense of, “I need you to do more” when I was at Mass and a certain song or reading would move me. It came to a head about a year before I started formation for the diaconate, in about 2012. I was at morning prayer during Holy Week and I was moved to tears on Good Friday during morning prayer at St. Greg’s. I was moved to tears, overcome with emotion, and felt myself saying to in response, “OK, OK, I will look into the diaconate. “

What did your wife think? 

I told Sue a couple of months later, before I started the inquiry process. She was very supportive and not surprised; she knew my history of considering the priesthood. I was a little afraid to tell her, but she had been waiting for it for a while. During that time, some parish staff members also asked me if I had ever considered the diaconate. The Holy Spirit was really working on me during that time.

What is one thing that you took from your years of formation that you hold on to? 

There are a lot of them, but I think that the thing I took most was the importance of listening. I think I used to be someone who had more of a snap reaction to a situation, but I learned the importance of waiting and considering all the different angles. My time in formation helped me chip away at the way that I used to approach things.

What are some of the tasks you’re responsible for at St. Greg’s? 

I preach monthly, and I do baptism classes and visit the sick and the homebound. My wife Sue and I do marriage prep sessions called Focus, and that’s something we really enjoy doing together. Every bit of my work fills me up, but I have a particular fondness for visiting the sick and homebound.

Were you able to keep in touch with those parishioners this past year? 

Yes. Thank God I’ve been able to speak with and see many of them. One of them passed away during COVID, and I was able to be with her family and arrange for the anointing of the sick in her final moments. It was a blessing to know her. Those are such special moments, to be able to travel with people in those times of life.

What’s one area you’ve grown in over the past three years? 

I have grown over time in my love of studying the scripture and preparing for preaching. Although it’s time-consuming and sometimes I struggle with the message, I have learned to accept letting the spirit work and letting him reveal the message in his own time.

What do you wish that more people knew about the Church? 

The sense of peace knowing that by attending Mass and receiving the Sacraments, that the Lord is traveling this life with you. You have an opportunity to be closer to the Lord through the sacraments and different activities of the Church. I wish, especially in this past year, that people saw why community is necessary and makes our lives so much better.

What do you hope people remember about you?

I hope people remember that I was present for them, that I was there as a listening presence and that I was someone who took an interest in them as a person.

Do you have any hobbies?

I love gardening, cooking and getting on my bike or taking walks with my wife Sue.