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 | By Mary Kay Mcpartlin

Holy Spirit at Work

Kathleen and Joe witness to their faith through capital campaign 

Kathleen and Joe Thorrez of Clarklake are ready to take their faith to a new level with the Witness to Hope campaign. This as an opportunity for them and the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Lansing to grow and strengthen.

“Our Catholicism is the basis of so many of our encounters, our beliefs, our roots,” Joe says. “It’s expressed not only in our families, but the way our parishes are part of the universal Church. It’s not an exclusive group, it’s all-inclusive.”

“I feel so fortunate that God chose me as a Catholic,” says Kathleen. “What a beautiful gift!”

The couple’s involvement with their parishes, Queen of the Miraculous Medal in Jackson and St. Rita’s in Clarklake, has nurtured their faith and provided opportunities for spiritual growth. “Parish life has greatly enhanced our faith formation, and our Catholic schools have educated our children” Joe says.

“There is energy and it is coming forth in the parishes,” Kathleen says. “You can just tell the Holy Spirit is actively at work.”

They see the movement of the Spirit continuing in a tradition that harkens back to the Church of earlier times. “This, for me feels like we are back to the time when early apostles went out in the communities to evangelize for Christ,” says Kathleen. “Our parishes and neighborhoods are close to crisis. I hope people recognize right now the Church and schools are bleeding, and in need of help. The Catholic faith is there, we just need to regenerate. It seems like God is knocking on the door. This is an exciting time for the Church. It’s a beautiful opportunity to show the way of Christ.”

Joe and Kathleen know many Catholics have lost their way and don’t even come to church on a weekly basis. To have the opportunity to evangelize those who have forgotten the power of God is an exciting honor for them.

“We feel humbled and honored to be part of this cabinet,” Joe says. “Bishop Boyea put the notice out, and it was a propellant for all of us in the Diocese of Lansing to understand we are a greater Church. It goes back to our Catholic heritage when we were helping this all-inclusive community well before our [governmental] social programs began. It’s important in all of our daily encounters to strive to be witnesses to Jesus Christ.”

“We were the welfare programs,” says Kathleen of past leadership in the Church. “That information is not out there, and people have forgotten.”

With Witness to Hope, Kathleen and Joe see an opportunity to care for the churches and communities their grandparents built a century ago or more. It is a new calling and a different way to respond with faith.

“The first step in a large program like this is reflection and prayer,” Joe says. “That’s going to be key for all the parishes in the diocese. From there, our hearts must be open for each family to make a personal response to this call.”

“The idea is to speak about this in such a grander way – to listen to what the vision is and see if people can actually imagine the opportunity this mission would bring to our diocese,” says Kathleen. “It shouldn’t be considered a sacrifice. It’s a beautiful gift we can give our faith. We have the chance to be right there and are excited for our bishop being so bold to take this step, and to see all the positive graces that can flourish from the Witness to Hope campaign in the years to come.”