Following a calling

This article was posted on: September 13, 2018

Kathy Herfel at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church

Time, talent and treasure – gifts from God. We all have something in every one of these areas that we can draw on, gifts to not only help our parish, but also help others.

Kathy Herfel, a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Mondovi, is a splendid example of stewarding her gifts. A librarian for 31 years, Kathy is passionate about following what she’s called to do.

She holds one of her callings close to her heart: “I sang to my mother before she died.” This inspired Kathy to join the Threshold Singers of the Chippewa Valley. With thousands of chapters worldwide, and six chapters in Wisconsin, this ecumenical ministry is an important part of her life.

Kathy’s region has 18 singers in the group. Usually three singers gather together and sing hymns and other spiritual songs to the homebound or those hospitalized, in nursing homes or in assisted living care. On one recent day, Kathy and her Threshold Singers group sang along seven bedsides at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire.

“I’m drawn to things that are good for me. I love to look into the eyes of the people I sing to.”

Kathy hasn’t always been eager to join in. Even with a talented and beautiful voice, she only admired the choir from afar at her previous parish in the 1990s: “They had such big, beautiful voices and I didn’t think I was good enough to join.”

Threshold Singers of the Chippewa Valley sing to Mark Steigerwald, a patient at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire. From left are Connie Olson, Kathy Herfel and Mary Burt.

Her turning point came when she and her husband moved from Eau Claire to Mondovi in 1991. After some thought, she decided to join the parish choir. She’s glad she did, as she continues to enjoy singing in the choir.

Though a self-proclaimed introvert, she’s involved at the parish, deanery and diocesan levels for the Council of Catholic Women. At the diocesan level, she’s made a difference and held officer roles for several years, including president. She’s passionate about women being involved in their local parish and beyond.

Kathy and her husband, Tom, a retired pharmacist, are parents to two children and have four grandchildren. They are care-givers to Tom’s 94-year-old mother, who lives with them.

Another calling that spoke to Kathy was to join the Seven Sisters Apostolate. This apostolate is a group of seven women. Each woman prays one hour on their assigned day for their parish priest. Kathy is one of the seven who pray for Father John Anthony Bosco.

Father Bosco is pleased and inspired: “When I see people like Kathy taking care of the Catholic community, when I see the simple faith of the people, I am happy as a priest. I want to do more and my best for the people.”

Sacred Heart of Jesus Church – Mondovi, Wis.

Kathy accompanies Father Bosco to assisted living centers and nursing homes to aid him while he distributes Holy Communion and provides Anointing of the Sick.

She is also one of the first members of the parish Bible Study. After 13 years, she continues to be involved with this ministry.
Declining involvement in parish activities is something many parishes have been struggling with for years. Kathy attributes the decline on conflicted pressures on time. Women are busy working and busy with their children’s school activities. “I joined the PCCW when I was 24 years old. I had a baby, but I wasn’t working back then,” she notes.

“I need my Church and my church family. I need the Eucharist. Something is lacking and my day isn’t complete if I don’t go to Church.” She’s exploring the idea of increasing her volunteerism and getting involved with a hospice program or pairing people to visit shut-ins.  Volunteering is something Kathy Herfel encourages everyone to try: “If I can do it, anyone can.”

Story and Photography By Sharon Sliwka

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