The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has hired Jean Stolpestad as director of the Office of Marriage, Family and Life.
Stolpestad, who started her position on April 16, served for 17 years as communications director of Familia, a nonprofit organization promoting marriage and family life.
Stolpestad also trained parish leaders in her former role as grassroots coordinator for the Minnesota Catholic Conference’s marriage amendment initiative.
She is a member of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers.
“I grew up in a beautiful family, and when I went to college I realized that not everyone had a similar experience. There is a lot of pain and brokenness in families,” Stolpestad said about why she pursued the position.
“I wanted to help people have an experience or an understanding of God’s plan for families, the beauty and strength that is an inherent part of family life. . . .”
“Right now, the family is seriously under attack,” she said. “The fragmentation and the loss of family identity is at the heart of our social ills. Strong families, based on marriage between a man and a woman, reflect the Trinitarian love of God.
In order to have a culture which protects life [and] cares for the poor and the marginalized, we must have a culture based on the family.”
“The family is the school of love,” she added. “It’s the center, where we learn authentic charity, where we have our first experiences of faith, and our culture needs that. If we plan to make an impact, then we have to start with the foundation, strengthening the basic unit of society, . . . the family, and that’s why I came here.”
She said she wants to build on the “constancy and depth” of the Office of Marriage, Family and Life, which prepares couples for marriage, provides outreach to youth and young adults, and promotes respect for life, among other things.
Stolpestad has been married to her husband, Craig, for 30 years. The couple have three sons: Adam, 27; Andrew, 22; and Austin, 17.
She is a parishioner at St. Albert in Albertville, where she volunteers with adult faith formation and sings in the choir.
“I’ve witnessed the beauty of families in our area, and it’s been a really strong influence on my faith,” Stolpestad said. “I understand the people here. They’re incredible. They face a lot of challenges, but there’s so much goodness.”
Stolpestad replaces Kathy Laird, who served as director of the office for 14 years before her retirement last December.