My husband Thomas and I met while at Franciscan University where we were blessed to be a part of such a dynamic Catholic university. We currently live in Rockville and have three children; Landon, 5, Evelyn, 4, Audrey, 2, and we are due with twins in September. The vocation of motherhood is filled with what I call intense flares of extreme joy mixed in with utter chaos. I was taking my first semester of grad courses when we got the news about the twins, so I will resume my masters at a later time. As my sister-in-law put it so beautiful, “Kelli, God obviously loves you but he really doesn’t like your plans.” God does give you more than you can handle but it is accompanied with more graces to help you grow through the process.
A day in the life for me is never consistent being a part of the tri-parish cluster of St. Louis in Paynesville, St. Agnes in Roscoe and St. Margaret in Lake Henry. Youth ministry is a very small sliver of what I do. I truly feel like the more I do with youth, the more my passion is driven to reach parents and the older generation, too. We are all called to constant conversion and growth in our knowledge of the faith, not just the young people.
I try to give my time to office work on Monday and Tuesdays preparing for Wednesday afternoon/evenings. I have found that in central Minnesota especially in a rural parish cluster, our teens are very busy with school, activities, and work. We have weekly middle school youth group gatherings every Wednesday night with our high school being once a month. I truly value the consistent classroom time I have teaching our 11th grade confirmation students. If we want to create lifelong Catholics, my goal is for them to understand and love the Eucharist. Priest, musicians, fellowship are ever changing in parish life, the one thing that stays the same is the Eucharist which is the source and summit of what it means to be Catholic. One former student put it ever so bluntly, “ If I had more credible sources in my life living it out, I would be stronger in my Catholic faith.” I want to encourage not only my students, but their parents to strive to live for Christ even though it is challenging.
Parish life is important to me because I see so much potential in our parishioners. I helped start a ministry called “Faith & Friends in 15 minutes,” which is aimed at understanding the “whys” behind the “whats” during Mass. We play a short video from Father Mike Schmitz (disclaimer* he is one of my favorites) and then afterwards we have fellowship. I truly believe our fellowship gathering has increased due to the high top tables (pvc pipe leg extenders) that don’t have any chairs. Our space is very welcoming and who doesn’t like donuts off a donut wall? Too many Catholics go through the motions but don’t understand the meanings. Once you do, the Mass will forever be different.
Another ministry I am blessed to be apart of is our family days. We have activities for young families usually in the form of a kick-off in September, Halloween party, Advent party and an Easter Egg hunt on Easter Sunday. Our goal again is to get young families to Mass first. I love how our young children are making memories being a part of a church community.
I love Theology of the Body and St. John Paul II is one of my favorite saints. Last year, I was part of a planning committee that put on a tea party for young women discussing the feminine genius which is coined from his letter to women. It was one of the most rewarding experiences because our young women were being told that their worth and dignity comes from the creator which is very counter-cultural.
I also am responsible for planning trips such as Steubenville conferences and other outings through the Diocese. The paperwork gets daunting, fundraising can be stressful, but to see young Catholics come alive in their faith makes it all worth it. This past Diocese’s Castaways retreat, I was asked to be the speaker for the weekend. I truly believe that at my confirmation, the Holy Spirit filled within me the desire to share my faith with those I encountered, and also he removed the fear of public speaking. I truly hope to do more speaking as a profession later on in life.
Outside of church, I have been a volleyball coach at Paynesville for the past 5 years. I truly have a passion for volleyball and being active outside. I love spending time with my large extended family. Fall is my favorite season and my family always enjoys going out to the various pumpkin patches. I am Fr. Mike follower, so I love listening to his Ascension Present Youtube videos and UMD Bulldog Catholic podcast. I highly recommend them!