Time & Talent: 9 Catholics share how they give to their parishes

| October 31, 2010 | 0 Comments

4_eckert2Youth Mass reading coach

Jim Eckert
St. Joseph, New Hope
Jim Eckert is a retired broadcaster. He is also a writer and works for the Minnesota Historical Society as a historic interpreter at Fort Snelling. He is married and has two grown children and five grandchildren.

Why am I Catholic? Because I’ve always been a Catholic and it seems to fit me.

What do I do for my parish? I work with a team of three who creatively plan and execute introductions to the first and second readings done by the young people at their 6 p.m. Sunday night Mass. We try to find the core of the reading. I just work on the presentation of the words.

Why do I do it? Because I should. I had been in broadcasting for 50 years. I loved it. I learned a lot. I worked with some very special and talented people. I feel that knowledge shouldn’t go to waste, so I do what I can to apply what I know.

4_steeleHaiti mission trip leader

Nicole Steele
St. Joseph the Worker, Maple Grove

Nicole Steele, 28, is a chemist. She recently returned to her alma mater, St. Catherine University, to pursue a degree in nursing.

Why am I Catholic? I became Catholic because of the church’s committment to the Gospel, radical hospitality and social justice. The church’s teachings also allowed me to reconcile my faith with scientific truths.

What do I do for my parish?
I am working to help my parish establish a twinning relationship with Sainte Catherine d’Alexandre parish in Bouzy, Haiti. I have traveled to Bouzy several times to listen, discern and build relationship with the people. I will be returning as part of a medical mission team this November.

Why do I do it? “Sa je pa we, ke pa tounen,” is a Haitian proverb that means, “What the eye doesn’t see, doesn’t move the heart.” Because we have seen, our hearts at St. Joseph the Worker have been moved to respond to the call to serve the poor by building relationships with individual people in Bouzy, Haiti. I am honored to be a part of this.

4_FischerFinance commission vice chair

Doug Fischer
Epiphany, Coon Rapids

Doug Fischer, 47, is county engineer for Anoka County. He is married and has four children and one grandchild.

Why am I Catholic? I was fortunate in that I was born into a Catholic family with strong Catholic values, and my parents sent me to Catholic grade school and high school in Ohio, where I continued my understanding and appreciation of the Catholic faith.

I am still a Catholic because the Catholic Church provides the truest path to eternal salvation. It may not be the easiest path (as compared to other faiths that succumb to modern culture and mores), but it is the path clearly defined by God and not by man.

What do I do for my parish? My primary role for Epiphany is as a member of the finance commission. We establish a budget for the church and school and monitor revenues and expenses. We also coordinate with the cemetery, senior housing and assisted living facility as it relates to the finances of the parish. We also get involved in capital improvements, debt management and other fiscal responsibilities.

Why do I do it? I have been blessed with so many skills and talents and this is my small way to pay back for all that I have been given. I feel that I am especially well-suited for the finance commission.

In my capacity as county engineer, I get to deal with road and bridge infrastructure problems that far exceed the revenues that are required to fix the problem — sounds like your typical parish finances, right? But by examining your values, setting your priorities, and putting forth a responsible budget, problems get fixed and issues get resolved.

A few of the side benefits of volunteering are that I get to meet some of the best people I could ever imagine being with, I continue to learn and grow in my faith, and when it’s all over, it just makes me feel good that I did it!

stewartEnchilada cook

Samantha Stewart
Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Paul

Samantha Stewart, 18, is a first-year student at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. She is studying mechanical engineering.

Why am I Catholic? I believe that the church is a community that brings people together, and that it strives to change the world through the wills of individuals, not law. I believe that being Catholic is more than a religion — it is a part of my culture, lifestyle and beliefs, and it helps me to become a better person and to help the world.

What do I do for my parish? I volunteer sometimes in the church choir playing the flute on Sundays, but mostly I volunteer for the Enchilada Lenten Dinner every year.

Why do I do it? I have been a part of the dinner for as long as I can remember. My grandmother started the dinner, which now continues through the generations like mine.

4_Jake_Rebholz2Usher at Mass

Jake Rebholz
St. Ambrose, Woodbury

Jake Rebholz, 10, is in the fifth grade at St. Ambrose of Woodbury Catholic School. He is the son of Paul and Laurie Rebholz. He plays football, baseball and basketball. He has recruited his dad, other brother, best friend and best friend’s dad to be ushers, too.

Why am I Catholic? I am Catholic because I believe in Jesus, and I get to celebrate Mass with my friends at school.

What do I do for my parish? I help my church by ushering. I usher to help out at Mass because I think that everyone should do a little bit to help out their church.

Why do I do it? I usher because I like to see my friends at church. I like trying to get them involved. It feels good to help out.

5_Kate_CaffreyGirl Scout Troop Leader

Kate Caffrey
Annunciation, Minneapolis

Kate Caffrey, 45, directs the Tutor-Mentor Program at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. She and her husband, Michael Reed, have three children. Her two daughters are in the Annunciation Girl Scout Troop, which is open to all girls.

Why am I Catholic? I am Catholic not just because I was raised Catholic, but because I choose to be Catholic. Catholicism is something that is a part of who I am. My faith guides my everyday life: parenting, working, relationships, etc.

What do I do for my parish? I am an active member of Annunciation parish. Through the parish and parish school I find ways in which I can contribute to the greater community. I give back through volunteering and participating in several ways. A few ways in which I contribute include working with the eighth-grade Annunciation Girl Scout Troop, assisting with the intergenerational parish retreat, coordinating school tours, providing yoga classes for staff and volunteering in a variety of other ways.

Why do I do it? I choose to give back because it allows me to put my faith into action. It is a reciprocal relationship. In return, I receive a sense of satisfaction, a sense of connection to the greater good and an opportunity to share my gifts and talents with others.


Loretta Wolf
St. Mary of the Purification, Marystown

Loretta Wolf, 73, spends much of her time volunteering for her parish. She is married and has 14 children, 34 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Why am I Catholic? I am a convert, of 55 years, to the Catholic faith, and this is where my spiritual needs are met. It can be summed up in the Word and the Eucharist. To be able to recieve the living body and blood of our Lord Jesus is a miracle to me.

What do I do for my parish? I am a liturgist, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, hope to be able to,
with the help of those in the different ministries, provide a good and meaningful liturgy.

Why do I do it? I do it because I love liturgy and pray that in some small way it can encourage people to get involved in the church with whatever gift they may have, small or large. When turned over to the Lord for his blessing, it becomes great. We hope to become a church that is welcoming, loving and forgiving.

schmidtsEngagement mentors

Patrick and Virginia-Anne Schmidt
Cathedral of St. Paul, St. Paul

Patrick, 39, and Virginia-Anne, 42, Schmidt have been married for 18 years and live in West St. Paul. They have six children, ranging in age from 18 months to 16 years old. They are pictured holding their youngest, Monica.

Why am I Catholic? We believe the church to make visible what is otherwise invisible — the reality of salvation. Jesus did not leave us alone — he gave us the church to teach us, guide us, heal us and usher us into everlasting life. With the sacraments as visible signs of his grace, we are able to share with others the joy that is everlasting.

What do I do for my parish? We serve together in our parish marriage ministry as engaged couple mentors. We also serve on the Teaching Parish Committee for the seminarian assigned to the Cathedral. In addition, Patrick serves as the confirmation teacher at the Cathedral and Virginia-Anne helped found, and is active in, the Mothers with Young Children group. When we can, we volunteer for other events like the Cathedral parish festival.

Why do I do it? If we truly believe what we have in the church is a treasure, why would we not want to share it with others? We are doing our best to put our gifts to work in the service of the church to bring others into the family. We are just two of the many parts of the body about which St. Paul spoke in his letter to the Romans.


Anita Kerper
St. Rita, Cottage Grove

Anita Kerper, 43, is a landscaper with a bachelor’s degree in horticulture. She is owner of BloomScapes in Cottage Grove. She and her husband, Mike, enjoy hiking, camping and being in nature.

Why am I Catholic? It is not easy to articulate “why” I am Catholic. It is just who I am, it is where I belong, it is so much a part of my whole person: my morals, my values, and my beliefs. St. Rita’s is my home and Catholicism is who I am.

What do I do for my parish? I created the plan for our landscape renovation project at St. Rita’s. I worked with volunteers from the men’s club and the garden club as well as donated my employees’ labor for the landscape installation over three years as well as for the ongoing maintenance throughout the years.

Why do I do it? God gives each of us many special gifts and talents. One of the special gifts that God gave me was my artistry with landscaping. It is this particular gift which God has called me to share with St. Rita’s parish and with the community of Cottage Grove.

Category: You belong . . . Here!