Audrey Faust raises things. Children, animals, plants, money – she’s done it all.
The demands of eight children and a husband would be enough to fill almost anyone’s time, but Faust began teaching fifth grade religious education classes when her children were in grade school. That was only the start of what’s turned out to be over 30 years of involvement in assorted ministries at Holy Hill.
Since her days in religious education, Faust has served on the bereavement committee, parish council (twice), and the human concerns committee. For 20 years she’s been a lector, as well as a eucharistic minister to the homebound, which she particularly enjoys. She has “two or three people I visit on a regular basis,” she said. “I feel like they’re almost part of my family.”
Faust was one of the founders of the Holy Hill arts and crafts fair, now in its 27th year. In her spare time, the 75-year-old helps out at her son John’s restaurant and bar in Richfield, the Rotten Apple – a name derived from the blending of a childhood nickname with that of a punk rock founding father.
Parish: St. Mary of the Hill (Holy Hill), Hubertus
Line of work: semi-retired; works part-time in family businesses
Book recently read: “Living a Life that Matters,” by Rabbi Harold Kushner
Favorite movie: “The Christmas Shoes”
Favorite quotation: “Christ has no body on earth now except yours.” – St. Theresa
It may all sound exhausting, but “I’m thankful that I’m still able to be active,” she said. “I volunteer in a nursing home and there are so many people in beds and wheelchairs.”
After the Faust family moved to Richfield from Milwaukee in 1960, they raised minks. These days, son Mike helps run another family business, Faust Greenhaus. It started with one greenhouse constructed behind the family home, and has expanded to four greenhouses, open to the public between Mother’s Day and the third week of June, where spring bedding plants are grown.
The family often donates flowers to Holy Hill, where Faust did the planting and watering. “I’ve always had a love for Holy Hill,” she said. “All my kids worked there during their high school years. When Joe (her husband) died, the priests and brothers were a wonderful support to me and my family, always there to listen and even help with home problems. I always knew I had someone to turn to.”
Faust’s family includes 14 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and three more great-grandchildren on the way. Her children live nearby – in the same house, in son Tom’s case, and next door, in the case of daughter Mary. Mary’s house was the clan’s original home. Faust’s children, a few of whom are construction workers, pitched in several years ago and built her a new one. She’s visibly proud of them. “They’re all different, but they really are close and help each other out,” she said.
Before devoting herself to family life and church activities, Faust worked as a nurse, obtaining a registered nurse license from the former St. Agnes school of nursing (now Marian College) in Fond du Lac. She worked in the obstetrics department of the old St. Michael Hospital at North Fourth and West Reservoir streets in Milwaukee, and also did industrial nursing at Maynard Steel for a time. She later volunteered at Horizon Hospice, which was “a very rewarding experience,” she said. “Sometimes it was just to go sit with people for an hour and hold their hands.”
Faust feels the experience, coupled with the support she received from the Carmelite priests and brothers at Holy Hill following her husband’s death, led her to bereavement ministry. For the last two years, she has assisted with funerals and stayed in touch with families who have lost loved ones.
Faust modestly downplays her active roles in church and family life, attributing her achievements to the goodness of God.
“(Maybe) printing my little story will help someone else realize the awesomeness and wonder of God,” she said, “and that we are only instruments in his hands if we let him. The glory is his. I’m just only giving back what I’ve gotten.”