Dominic is a faith community. You come to know one another and when
someone does get cancer, like we experienced for example, so many people
come forward to help and send letters. It's really important in
anybody's spiritual life to know that you are not alone and that other
people will always be there to help you. God didn't make us introverted
creatures. We're meant to make connections with other people. Read more of Julia's interview... covering a
wide variety of people and experiences that have been an inspiration to
in the world would you skip school, spend money, and waste your time
going to somewhere with no internet connection, no malls, and no friends
just to help strangers?” Wow, harsh question. But yes, someone actually
asked me this. Granted, I am skipping classes, yes I am spending money,
and I am spending time to help serve those who I don’t even know.
My name is Ana Caballero. Needless to say, I get caught up with day to day
living but thankfully I had a wakeup call. One day, my father asked me
to join him on a Medical Missionary Trip to Mexico. Without looking at
my assignment notebook or work schedule, I said YES! Since I can
remember, my parents have instilled the importance of giving back to the
world by using the talents that God has graciously bestowed upon me. I
try to live my life by my favorite passage in the Bible: the Gospel of
Matthew 5:3-10 (the Beatitudes). These eight verses are a
straightforward formula on how to seek Christ, know Christ, and become
Christ. And the reason why I love doing service work is because of the
fact that I know I have tried to improve this world. I can’t cure cancer
but I can put a smile on a face. There is something so contagious about
giving back to the community, but I am not here to blab about myself, I
am here to send forth the message that great things are happening in
this troubled world.
My bags are half packed, my plane ticket purchased, and my heart ready
to serve. I encourage all families to take time to understand the
importance of service work. Go ahead and put your faith into action, it
is easy and fun. God only has our hands on the earth, so do good. Use
your freedom to inspire and fill others with happiness and joy. I was
told once that what is in our hearts is who we are.
So let me ask you, who are you?
Ana Caballero attended a medical mission with her father, traveling to Quintana Roo, Mexico with other physicians and
medical students. This was a week long mission trip with opportunities to
learn about the poor as well as serve them. Ana’s family has a close tie
to this mission due to their heritage. HELPING HANDS medical
missionaries are Catholic doctors, nurses, and volunteers who come from
all areas of the United States and Canada to join the host team of
doctors. Missionaries work in small clinics, hospitals, schools and
churches located in rural towns where they provide free medical care for
thousands of patients in need of medical attention. The participants
also take part in the mission’s spiritual program. Aspects of the
mission includes daily prayer, Mass, meditation, and sharing their faith
with the people of the town through home visits.
a member of St. Dominic Parish for the past ten years, I feel very
blessed to be able to participate in various ministries. I am very
grateful to be a member of the lectors, Eucharistic ministers, Adult &
Family Ministry and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)
teams. I love being involved in these groups because I believe that in
GIVING you truly RECEIVE.
I gained a greater understanding of this gift as an outcome of my visit
to Ecuador as part of a Minga or parish mission trip.
The week that I spent there, along with six other team members, allowed
me to witness a level of poverty that I have never known from living in
the United States. We helped build a home for a woman and her family. It
was an extraordinary experience.
most memorable part of the trip took place on the last day. The woman,
whom we were helping, knelt on the hard rocky ground and thanked us for
building her home.
I will never forget her face and the sincere tears of appreciation that
she extended to us.
Of all the activities that I am involved in, I treasure the most, being
a member of the Inquiry and Breaking Open the Word teams for the Rite of
Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). The Inquiry team meets with the
catechumens and candidates to share and teach our Catholic teachings as
found in the Catechism. This two-way dialogue benefits both the team
members and the candidates. Candidates come from so many different
backgrounds and with so many good questions. It allows all of us to grow
in our faith. From my participation, I realize that that my formational
growth is a work in progress. It is a journey that will never be
After the Inquiry stage, catechumens and candidates discern if they are
ready to continue with the next stage of preparation to become Catholic.
This next stage is Breaking Open the Word. During these weeks we reflect
on the Sunday Gospel message in order to bring more meaning to scripture
and discern how it applies to our daily lives.
The candidates share with us what they have witnessed at other churches
and what they’ve expressed is the outstanding feeling that the Catholic
Church is FORGIVING. The Catholic Church also provides a tradition
and a reverence that is often missing elsewhere. The RCIA process
concludes with the exhilarating experience of the catechumens and
candidates being initiated into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil
by receiving the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.
To have your faith grow, volunteer, and you will receive more than you
Our road to adoption was an unnecessarily long one. Well, unnecessary
in an earthly sense of time but not in God’s — His time is perfect. Our
journey began with a quiet whisper which we promptly dismissed as
absurd. We had four young children and life was busy and difficult to
keep up with already. We knew it would be a challenge to give them all
that they needed — time, attention, a Catholic education, a college
education...the list goes on! It was some time later while praying the
Rosary that God showed us something important. When the angel came to
Mary, her “Yes” to God was so pure and never did she focus on the
impossibilities or say, “But what about…?” She trusted him completely.
But what were we doing? We were finding all of the selfish reasons to
say “no,” the reasons that don’t matter when you are standing face to
face with your Creator. So, we started praying about it. And what we
realized was that no matter what, this was going to be a great test of
faith that would require a wholehearted trust in the Lord. We had a
discussion with our children about adoption and how it would involve
sacrifice, selfless love, and potential unknowns. Their yes was like
Mary’s, a pure “yes!” The next day, after five years of uncertainty, we
decided we would begin our adoption paperwork, and if God wanted to
close the doors, He would. Finally, after two years of waiting and
praying, we received “the call.” We were so excited to finally see her
face after such a long wait!
we had to trust in God. There were so many unknowns ahead of us: what if
she wouldn’t attach to us, what had she endured in her two and a half
years of life and how would it affect her and our family, what if she
had medical problems that we didn’t know about, etc. Then I heard this
quote: “If you set out and you know what’s ahead of you, that’s
knowledge; if you set out and don’t know what’s ahead, that’s faith.”
We had our answer...we would not worry and we would trust God fully.
We departed for China on Christmas Eve. We received our daughter in
Ningxia, China and returned home on January 10, 2010. God has blessed us
beyond words with our new daughter and there is no doubt that she is so
very perfect for our family. She has brought such joy and love to all of
us and we have to smile. God knew so much more than we did, we just had
to trust Him!
Day 3 Journal: "We were told early on that she would likely bond
with one of us. So, early on I pinched her so she would bond with Deb
first. I did not want Deb upset the next few months so yes, I took one
for the team. In all seriousness, she does love me from afar (I
think). We have a great time playing and as long as Deb is holding her
she lets me give kisses. This morning was a good morning for dear old
dad. She woke up while Deb was on the computer and she let me hold her
for about 5 minutes while we snuggled. “As we boarded the plane to
leave Elizabeth’s birthplace there is a part of me that is sad for all
those that have touched her in the past two years. It is very obvious
that she was loved by her foster family and well taken care of. She came
to us clean, she smelled wonderful, and she knew who we were...We both
know it is by God’s grace...that Elizabeth knew we were coming for her.
It has been amazing to watch all the people in the streets and at the
hotel. I can just see the love they have for her and I know her mom must
have been heartbroken to give her up." Jeff Baker
got started in Children’s Ministry four years ago through Vacation Bible
School, where I discovered that I could be more involved during the
school year. Since I wanted to be a teacher, I thought this would be a
good opportunity for me. I have helped in first and third-grade
classrooms, a catch-up class, and am currently the catechist in a
kindergarten classroom. I also help out in R.I.S.E.N., the quad-parish
special education program.
Even though I am still a student myself, I feel that I am completely
welcomed within the St. Dominic community – being in Children’s Ministry
has helped me become more involved in the parish. I really enjoy seeing
everything the students learn, as well as everything they are capable
of. They never cease to amaze me with the ideas that they have.
To all the young parishioners of St. Dominic: It is never too early to
volunteer your time. Even though I am a very busy high school student, I
am able to spend a couple hours of my week with these students, and it
is worth every minute of that time. You do not have to be a certified
teacher to be able to make a difference for these children; a little bit
of patience and some creativity will go a very long way. I feel that
because of my young age, I can be a very good role model for these
children both in and out of the classroom.
Probably the best thing that I have gained from working with all of
these students, however, is the ability to build my own faith. It is
amazing that kindergarteners can actually teach me about my faith, but
I am very grateful for the numerous opportunities Children’s Ministry
has given me. Not only am I able to build my own faith, but I have also
gained many experiences that will help me later on. Teaching these
classes has shown me that I definitely want to go into education as my
career. It allows me to express my love for teaching as well as my love
I started my Guatemalan journey two years ago, I did not think of it as
―Answering God‘s Call. I was invited by my daughter Ashley to accompany
her, along with her friend‘s family and other volunteers, to Guatemala
to improve the conditions of a rural school. The mission trip was to
scope out projects for the following year and to provide a day long
clinic in the rural area of Guatemala. Being a nurse, my skills were
I considered the invitation for a long period and decided it was time
for me to offer a little back. After a long flight, my daughter and I
arrived in Guatemala. We spent a total of 9 days in
Guatemala. During that time, we identified many projects. Two projects
became priorities; one was to build an altar and the other was to paint
a mural in the chapel at the residential school for children. We came
back to the U.S. with a clear plan for the next mission group to carry
out the following year.
The next year another call came and I was asked to help fulfill some of
the tasks we identified the previous year. Again, I took a long time considering
whether to go on this trip. I prayed and asked God for guidance. He
provided that guidance during a time I was sitting with Barry, my
husband. I asked Barry what he thought I should do. He responded, ―There
is no doubt you should go to Guatemala. Remember last year how fulfilled
you were when you came back? You need to go again this year. With that
support I signed up for the trip. I contacted Ashley and asked if she also would be
interested in going again this year, and she agreed. We were off to
preparation for the trip I thought about the supplies we brought over
the previous year; they included numerous boxes of shoes for children. I
telephoned Mr. John Chovanec, St. Dominic School Principal and asked if
I could collect shoes through the grade school children. Without
hesitation he encouraged me to write an announcement for the school
newsletter. I wrote the article and a week later I had two huge boxes of
shoes to take over to Guatemala. The Guatemalan children are little, so
sizes that fit American children ages 1 year to 12 years are most
needed. Thrilled with our shoe donations, we packed and prepared for our
We flew into Guatemala and then drove to Rio Dulce. The chapel was
nothing but an empty shell when we began our work. The volunteers pushed
concrete in a wheel barrel up the hill to the chapel to build the altar.
The same was done for the stone and pails of water. The work was arduous
and the weather was hot, with temperatures in the 90‘s. It was labor
intensive work and everything was mixed by hand; no cement mixers for
Upon completion of the altar, the task of adding the mural was next. We
began by painting the background with sun rays, which are significant in
the Mayan culture. Stenciling the pictures on the wall followed. After
the stenciling was completed we could paint the images. Some of the
local residents were there to help us. We used regular house paint
previously purchased in Antigua to paint the murals.
It took seven days to complete the painting of the wall, but it was well
worth it. The murals included a picture of Jesus with his children and a
mural of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Father Javier presided over Mass at the
newly painted chapel. The Mass was said in three languages; Spanish,
Kachee and English.
During our stay at the school, we invited the school children and their
families to join us for an evening meal. We arranged all shoes in the
library of the school. Everyone at the evening gathering was invited to
pick out the number of pairs of shoes to meet the needs of their
families. Some children couldn‘t believe the good fortune they had at
It was an incredible journey! When answering God‘s call, some people
believe it has to do with suffering and self-sacrificing, but in my
journey to answer God‘s call, I walked away with a sense of joy and
peace that I have never experienced in my life before. In answering
God‘s call, I received a gift from God.
The question “why?” is a powerful challenge.
Rick Hepperla, a member of the St. Dominic RCIA (Rite of Christian
Initiation of Adults) Inquiry Team asked this question over and over
again during a two-year period after learning that his son Austin
was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy in 1992. Brought up in the
Catholic Church with many years of Catholic education, he recalls
being taught “what” to believe, but not “why.” Now he started
questioning everything; all his beliefs, his faith and the moral and
theological issues related to birth control and artificial
insemination (MD is a genetic disease). He searched his soul for
Austin’s diagnosis was a major turning
point in his life. At this time, the Catholic Parish where he was a
member called for candidate sponsors for their RCIA process. The
Holy Spirit moved him to join. He wanted to help teach others what
he had learned. It led him to a deeper study the Catholic faith.
Living in Tennessee at the time (the “Bible Belt” where only 4% of
the population was Catholic), he found himself increasing his
knowledge of apologetics and debating fundamentalist and evangelical
Christians, defending the Catholic faith.
RCIA Inquiry Team is responsible for answering candidates questions
and walking them through the catechism. Rick’s search for answers to
the “why” questions and his street debates with other Christians
prepared him to deal with hot topics such as Mary, confession,
purgatory, the saints and the Pope.
candidates enter the program with certain biases. Each candidate is
unique and has his/her own frame of reference and reason for
entering the process. Rick believes that by finding a common ground
and building from a biblical basis, candidates become more open to
more difficult or challenging topics. He has a burning desire to
teach the candidates but knows he has to let them go at their pace.
Often in the process, a friendship develops. Rick loves the
candidates with the most questions; sometimes the most challenging
candidates become the most committed. He admits the Inquiry Team
learns as much or more from the candidates than they teach, and that
is a great gift.
Rick is a business executive, third generation member
of St. Dominic and has been involved in the RCIA process for over 15
and Nala in The Lion King were not the only ones acutely
aware of the circles of life. My academic and professional lives
have just come full circle at St. Dominic. I attended grades 1-8 at
the recently built St. Dominic School. Several years later I
enjoyed my first teaching position in a 1st grade
parochial school classroom. Fast forward to the present and I find
myself thrilled to return “home” to St. Dominic and teaching first
grade once again.
After five years in the classroom, I began my
family and chose to be a full-time mom and part-time teacher. Now
that my children are getting ready to fly from our nest, I am very
excited to be back as a full-time classroom teacher at St. Dominic.
Katelyn, 19 will be a freshman at Stevens Point and Jackie, 17, is a
Brookfield Central senior. While my educational philosophy is an
ever-evolving kaleidoscope, parenting my own children has added the
most dynamic change to my teaching style. Many times I think about
how I would want a specific situation handled if I was this child’s
St. Dominic Parish has been one of my
“villages” for over 40 years. I remember Sister Marcel Marie
greeting me, in full habit, as I walked into my first grade
classroom. I was sure that Father Griebasch was related to the Jolly
Green Giant because he was so tall when he taught us religion in our
classroom once each week. Who could forget the competitive spirit
between the well-known boys’ choir and Miss Wolf’s girls’ choir?
Finally, I always looked forward to the nights that my parents
hosted the St. Dominic bridge club at our home. It meant great
snacks and mom and dad’s friends were always so nice to us. Many of
those people are still parish members today!
I am proud to have been part of St. Dominic’s
past. Today, I am blest to share friendships with so many wonderful
people in our parish.
you receive a gift, it is truly loved and treasured. However, when you
share the gift it is an act of great charity-which is love! Is this not
what our Lord did for us on the cross? What a gift!
When I was a young boy and was required to memorize the Baltimore
Catechism, I wondered why I needed to know all of this information.
Because my faith walk is tested daily, I continue to fall back on this
material regularly to help me through this misguided world. I would like
to thank my family for its devotions, convictions and discipline to love
God above all. Furthermore, to the School Sisters of Notre Dame for
helping me understand the Catholic religion. What a gift!
I feel that today’s children are missing the gift that I was given by
understanding the traditional Catholic religion. Faith is given by God,
and God alone, and Jesus set up the Catholic Church to be handed down
throughout all of time. What a gift!
Our religion fully supports our Cardinal virtues of faith, hope and
charity which are gifts from Christ Himself. What a gift!
I now realize the Catholic religion was a gift from my family and the
magisterium of the Church. In knowing that, I have a responsibility to
share my religion with others by bringing souls to Christ. It isn’t fair
to our youth to face this unsuspecting world without some reasoning as
to why we follow Jesus Christ through the Catholic religion. Many of our
children have already fallen to the ways of the world, and walked away
from the Eucharist; which is the center of our faith. Thus, I decided to
teach the seventh graders at St. Dominic’s to help them reach their full
potential on their journey of faith through life. They are amazed when
they come to comprehend what we learned years ago. You can see them fall
in love with Jesus, our Blessed Mother, Saints, and the fullness of the
faith. It takes time and effort to prepare for the classes, but the
results are such a reward to me time and again. What a gift!
As a gift to humanity, Jesus gave the keys of the Heavenly kingdom to
Peter. He then accepted the full responsibility and continued to hand
them down through the traditions and teachings of the church. I am proud
to hand this treasure to our kids. Parents are supposed to be the first
institutor of the faith, and are able to use the Church to reiterate
that faith. What a gift!
Let us give the gift of the Catholic religion to our children so that
they may have the opportunity to be in paradise one day.
first foray into ministry was as a lector in 1989. For 11 years prior to
that I was in a depressed state, after the untimely death of my father.
But that Lenten season (1989) I participated in a Renewal Program. As I
write this, I can still feel the deep withheld emotions bubbling up and
out. The facilitator had given each of us a small stone and told us to
hold it in the palm of our hands. He asked that we call on God to help
us to release whatever we held inside and put it in that stone. If I
could have, I would have crushed that pebble. I still feel it in my
palm. I put everything I had into that small piece of earth. Then we
came forward and threw it away while being blessed by this holy man. The
tears I shed were tears of joy. I was no longer angry at myself, at one
of my brothers, at my Dad (who I miss terribly to this day), or at God.
I went searching in the deepest, darkest parts of myself and found Him
waiting there for me; for "I am with you always" (MT 28:20). I was loved
and now I could love again.
I grew in my love of God and in my faith by proclaiming God’s word
during liturgies, I felt called to additional ministries. An opportunity
presented itself in January 1991 from Children’s Ministry. There were
openings for first and sixth grade catechists. I opted for first grade
and God blessed me with six and seven-year-olds that have opened my
heart and soul to the wonder of God’s love for us His children. I also
assist the Director of Children’s Ministry, Mrs. Kathie Beuscher, on our
Tuesday evenings with the children. Jesus told us to be like little
children and follow him.
After 30 years as a government employee, I think that my next career,
my vocation, is to serve children even more than I have already.
Therefore, I’ve been applying for religious education positions in our
archdiocese. I’m trying to do my best as his yoke is easy, his burden
light (ref. MT 11:30).