A high school mission trip and a 2015 Catholic Herald story started Matt and Katie Glafcke and their family down the path to becoming missionaries to Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand.
“The issue from September 2015 had a cover story on a family from the Diocese of Green Bay who had joined Family Missions Company (FMC),” said Matt. “We thought of one day taking our own family on a mission trip. We had no idea it was possible to serve full-time as a family of lay missionaries until we read that article and subsequently scoured FMC’s website to learn more.”
Now, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns, the St. James in Menomonee Falls members are temporarily located at the Family Missions Company in Abbeville, Louisiana, until the borders open in New Zealand.
Before beginning their training in 2018 as missionaries in General Cepeda, Mexico, Matt owned a successful painting contracting company that he ran for 13 years.
“I had built it from the ground up with my father and had become successful in the ways the world would deem a glory story,” he said. “It had provided everything my family needed, as well as a secure path to fiscal responsibility and eventual retirement.”
Along the way, Matt realized the Lord was calling him to something different, seeking his whole heart and pulling him away from his company, his independence and self-reliance.
“It was a transformation that challenged me then and continues to do so,” he said. “To travel down one path for so long, its pull and tugging on your ideas and rules of the world takes hold. In the end, it was a true joy and great freedom to entrust my freedom, to entrust my future to our God who is ever faithful and always provides for his people. It is embracing the ability to not constantly worry about tomorrow, but to let today’s troubles be enough for today. It is belief that life is more than food and the body more than clothes. God’s provided for our family to live a simple life grounded in his promises that prove true every time.”
The couple has six children: Josephine, 14; Coryn, 12; Mallory, 8; Gloria, 6; Daniel, 3; and Gwendolyn, who was born in Louisiana on Sept. 15 of this year. The four oldest children attend Catholic school not far from the Family Missions Company, and enjoy their classes and being missionaries. Their children make friends easily and willingly share their faith to others.
“They are blessed to be able to stay in touch with old friends and make new friends wherever they are. Christ desires our hearts. Since we are focused on our relationship with the Lord, he gives us so many graces to seek and foster real relationships with others,” said Katie. “Family Missions Company trains missionaries to proclaim the Gospel and serve the poor. As a family of eight, our day-to-day life is fairly ordinary. But God shows up whenever we invite him in. Our children go to the local school, we pray together as a family and on our own, we read Scripture, run errands, clean the house and lend a hand helping our community. Lately, Matt has been painting an old camp infirmary that is being renovated into a lodge for retreat staff members.”
While being separated from family and friends is difficult for the Glafcke family, they are grateful for technology, such as Zoom, to stay connected. Matt also continues weekly Zoom meetings with his men’s group at St. James, which helps support his call to missionary work.
“We are also blessed to continue one of our favorite ministries, meeting with an engaged couple who is preparing for marriage in the new year,” said Katie.
Matt said he appreciates the ways God’s call pushes him to learn more about him and he is pushed to use the gifts God gave him throughout his life.
“I have learned how to praise and pray with him in worship music more fully. From leading praise and worship for our family to leading small groups in praising his name and also in just learning myself how the prayer of music can transform my love of that art form. I also find ways God is pulling me deeper into topics I only have a small grasp of,” he said. “Recently, conversations about God’s love and desire for me to grow in holiness pulled me into a new topic that I have yet to deeply discern how it directly applied to my life. The topic in question was St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. It is a topic I had heard about many years ago and briefly delved into, but at the time I figured I had a long road ahead of me as then we only had young children. Now, as we have one teenager and multiple pre-teens, I see the wisdom of the teaching and yearn to learn more to share its truths with my family.”
Katie said it is challenging to produce a concise response to what they do as missionaries, but she attributes all they do to the Holy Spirit as the primary agent at work in their lives.
“It is what transforms a basic courtesy into an act of loving kindness to say, ‘I see you and you are worthy of being loved because you belong to God and we belong to one another,’” she said.
The family recently completed their initial two-year commitment with FMC and feel called to continue. Each year the family will discern whether God desires them to continue their service to others.
The family relies 100 percent on donations for all of their family’s living expenses to continue their work.
“Each one of our donors are mission partners and are real co-workers alongside us in bringing Christ to the nations. Their gifts enable us to go, and in return allow them to live out their missionary call, given to all us at Baptism, to proclaim Christ’s saving power,” said Matt. “We are a bridge connecting the Body of Christ, allowing our donors in Wisconsin to have a direct impact to those we encounter and evangelize across the globe. When we give to those in spiritual or material need, we declare to them, ‘God Loves you, I love you, and all those who I bring with me in word or deed love you.’”
To keep up with the Glafcke Family, follow their blog: laughkey.blogspot.com.
To help support their missionary efforts, visit: glafckefamily.familymissionscompany.com.