Meghan Kinateder saw the deep impact that service made in a community as she was growing up.
She was the oldest of six children, in a Catholic family where faith in God and love of his church was the most important part of life. With her siblings, she attended grade school at St. Mary’s in Waukesha and watched as her parents stayed involved in every aspect of their school and parish life. Her mother ran the food pantry for the church and brought her children in to serve with her as they grew, helping to deliver food to needy families and actively participating in the thanksgiving and Christmas food drives.
On Sundays, the family sat together in their pew and she grew up helping her parents during their lector duties, reading and bringing up the gifts when she was old enough. “It brought that family aspect to the Church,” she said.
When it was time for high school, Kinateder and all of her siblings went to Catholic Memorial High School.
“There was a big emphasis on Catholic education in our family,” she said. “My parents wanted our faith to be nurtured in every possible way.”
At Catholic Memorial, Kinateder played basketball her freshman and sophomore years, and ran on the varsity track and cross country teams. She was involved in student council, and the Pro-Life group on campus, and focused much of her time on service.
“Catholic Memorial put a huge emphasis on service projects,” Kinateder said. “When I was doing my application to Notre Dame, my top college choice, I remember in my essay talking about how my education at Catholic Memorial was so well-rounded with athletics, academics, and service.”
Kinateder says that her time at Catholic Memorial and the way the school educated the whole student was instrumental in getting her into Notre Dame.
After graduating from Catholic Memorial in 1995, Kinateder began her freshman year at Notre Dame already knowing that her intention was to become a doctor.
“My mom was a teacher, and I thought about doing that for a while, but my main goal was to help other people,” she said.
Helping others was a natural calling for Kinateder after the years she’d spent watching her family lead by example, and because of her education at Catholic Memorial. “Helping, being Christ to others; it was a part of who I’d become in large part due to my time in high school.”
After attending medical school at Georgetown University, she graduated in 2003 and began her pediatric residency at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. When she finished in 2006, she decided to stay at the hospital for a year and worked in the neonatal ICU before moving back to Milwaukee.
She said that she was overjoyed at the idea of coming home, as she was preparing to get married to Fred, another graduate of Catholic Memorial High School. They knew Milwaukee was where they wanted to be, that they wanted their future children to have the Catholic education they had.
For the past 13 years, Kinateder has worked at Waukesha Pediatrics, an independent pediatric group, and loves her work as a pediatrician. She said, “95 percent of my job is dealing with healthy kids and families, and getting to know them and watching the kids grow. It’s really rewarding.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic descended in March, Kinateder found herself in murky waters, trying to navigate medicine and public health that changed every day. Her children’s school (Waukesha Catholic) closed along with the rest, and she was faced with the insurmountable task of working, educating her children at home, and staying on top of the ever-changing outbreak.
“Our office never shut down,” she said. “We were only seeing 18 month and younger; so we weren’t too busy but the uncertainty of it was hard.”
Kinateder said that she never felt scared, though this was something brand new that no one had any training for; she adjusted and held on to her faith. She’s taken on the personal motto of “one day at time,” not letting her mind skip 10 steps ahead or wander too far from the present moment.
“When we lost church as part of our everyday life, that was hard,” she said, but she reminded herself, her husband, and their four children, that just because they couldn’t get into the building, Christ was present in their hearts. They said their daily prayers, thanked God for his blessings, and asked him to help those who were sick.
“That separation was so difficult but knowing who held us was a source of such comfort,” Kinateder said. “It was a great reminder to lean on what I was taught, and trust in God.”