Body of Christ

How did your career in church ministry begin?

I started out when I was a young mom. I was at home with my daughter, my second child, and I literally got called into ministry — the director of Christian formation at our parish, St. Mary in Menomonee Falls, called to see if I would be a catechist. And I, of course, willingly signed up to do just that. I was a volunteer catechist for eight years before I started looking for part-time work, and I was hired as a secretary in the Christian formation office. It was then that I pursued additional education.

Had the faith been a big part of your life growing up?

We were a traditional family of the 1950s and 1960s, and I can remember, as a young child, after attending Mass as a family, we would come home and have our brunch, and then immediately after that we would gather as a family in our living room and pray the Rosary. Those were the seeds of faith that were planted in me as a young child. I am forever grateful to my parents for having given me that opportunity to grow in faith and for my 20 years of Catholic education. It is my faith that sustained and grounded me through the joys and changes of life.

Who has had the biggest influence on you spiritually?

I’m currently the director of RCIA and I’ve done that for 11 years now; every time I am with a group that is starting out, our team always tells them that we learn so much from them. That’s the way that I feel about all my experiences, and all the people I’ve served with. I’ve learned and grown so much from my experience with people. I have been so blessed in these 30 years to have worked alongside so many amazing servants of God.

Tell us about the time you spent working in health care as a chaplain. What was that like?

It really allowed me to draw on my nursing background, because I was a nurse for 15 years, primarily in critical care in a hospital. When I was a chaplain at Loyola, I was so grateful to have that kind of a background, as trauma, ER and ICU were the primary areas that I served as a chaplain. When I came back to Wisconsin to work in home hospice care, I was able to care for people and their families at the most challenging time of their lives. There are really not adequate words to describe the experience as people transition from this life to eternal life, other than understanding that at that moment, I was God’s vessel. What a blessing.

If you were not doing this type of work, what job do you think you’d like to have?

When I did my undergrad, there were two routes you could take: theology or religious studies. With religious studies, I would have been licensed to teach, and a number of my professors at Mount Mary and Sacred Heart encouraged me to go that route. The world of academia is a wonderful world and I could see myself in that position, preparing the next generation of catechists.

What interests or passions do you have outside of your career?

I am an amateur photographer, and one of my goals in my retirement is to create reflective materials using Scripture. It’s just something I would like to do for myself; Scripture is so much a part of who I am, and I would love to connect that beauty of God’s word to the beauty of creation and the beauty of life.

Why do you love photography?

When you’re looking through the lens of a camera, it is so deeply spiritual. It’s breathtaking because you see things that you normally would not even have paid attention to. It draws me into whatever subject it is that I am photographing. It gives you a different perspective. No matter what the subject matter may be, it always gives you that moment to just stop and savor the moment.

You have a very close extended family — what do you like to do when you get together?

In addition to my immediate family, I’m close with my siblings and my nieces and nephews. This year, we added two new members to the fourth generation of our family. I enjoy traveling with my daughter and my extended family. We took a trip a year ago to Vegas and the Grand Canyon; there were 23 of us representing every decade from age 20 to age 80. It was a blast. I am looking forward to more traveling in my retirement. I am very blessed and most grateful to God.