Marriage Matters

A Firm Foundation

This article was posted on: July 8, 2024

Protecting Time for God and Praying to Mary

Troy and Lindsey Kroening and their eight children espouse what it is to be genuinely Catholic. What’s their secret?

Living a countercultural life is inherent to living an authentically Catholic life. One is swimming against a variety of currents, many of which attempt to reshape the structure and dynamics of the family. It takes fortitude and intentionality to raise faithful children in this culture. Troy and Lindsey Kroening are among those who have taken up the good fight for their family of 10.

The Kroenings are a family that prays together daily, attends an hour of eucharistic adoration every week and balances school and extracurriculars while genuinely enjoying each other’s company. How are they accomplishing what many consider this Herculean task?

The Two Shall Become One Flesh

Like all families, their story begins with the two responsible for its formation: the husband and wife, Troy and Lindsey.

Lindsey, who grew up in Edgar, was taught from a young age about the importance of attending Mass. Her parents always made sure to fulfill their Sunday obligation, even when her father had to work long shifts or they were out of town for a wedding.

Her formation in the Faith began to flourish under the influence of a close friend’s mother. “She was such a devout Catholic. She took me under her wing and I learned so much from her about the Faith and the saints,” said Lindsey.

This inspired Lindsey to further her education in the Faith by joining an apologetics group for teens in the Colby-Unity area. There, she continued to learn what Catholics professed and why, as well as how to respond to questions concerning the Faith. In God’s providence, her young faith continued to be nurtured at the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s vibrant Newman Center. The opportunity to share meals, attend eucharistic adoration and Mass, and pray community rosaries introduced her to fellow Catholics who shared her beliefs and the desire to grow in virtue. 

Troy’s journey into Catholicism took a different path. In his own words, “My faith story starts with meeting her. I had a lot of catching up to do.”

Although he was raised as a cradle Catholic, he stopped practicing during college.

“I didn’t feel like I had a reason to go. I had nothing against it; I never walked away to the point of turning my back on it,” explains Troy. “I just didn’t see the reason for returning—until I met her.”

Lindsey and Troy met after college through mutual friends. Their differences in practicing the faith posed a challenge for Lindsey: “It was hard on me, but I knew I was supposed to stay with him. I don’t know how to explain it.”

Troy had questions about certain aspects of Catholicism, and Lindsey provided answers whenever time he voiced them. Amid his uncertainties or misunderstandings, he expressed an openness to the truth. This attitude proved fruitful throughout their dating and eventual engagement.

The couple attended Mass together every weekend, and by the time they began marriage preparation, Troy was serious about actively living out his faith.

“During our retreat, we were repeatedly the last ones to finish because we were discussing everything,” says Lindsey.

This commitment to communication persisted in their marriage, as they desired to create a firm foundation for their future family. Troy describes their approach: “We shared everything. It was never going to be, ‘Dad’s working, and Mom’s taking care of everything at home.’ We wanted to be on the same page, completely in sync.”

As children came, their eldest daughter arriving just shy of their first anniversary, the question of what they would prioritize as a couple arose.

“We noticed that if we had two busy nights in a row and didn’t spend time together, it would lead to tension between us. There were misunderstandings and other issues,” explained Troy. “So, we made a rule that if we have plans on Sunday night, we can’t plan anything for Monday night. This way, we spaced out our activities to minimize conflicts and ensure we had time for our relationship.” Now the parents of eight children, they are busier than ever. And they are still committed to spending quality time together as a couple.

“We reserve our evenings to connect. Once we’ve ensured that all the kids are settled, we have our time together…. We don’t go out for date nights. Instead, every night we set aside half an hour to an hour and a half for just the two of us. All the kids are in bed—even the teenagers who usually want to stay up late.”

This commitment requires sacrificing some sleep, but the Kroenings believe it’s well worth it.

Troy emphasizes, “If we focused solely on getting as much sleep as possible, it would come at a cost in other areas.”

Called to Go Deeper

After Troy and Lindsey married and found out they were expecting their first child, the Marshfield Deanery announced their plan to start a perpetual adoration chapel and the need for more adorers.

“I didn’t know about eucharistic adoration when I was growing up,” explains Troy. “But I had been listening to Relevant Radio and had an idea of what it was.”

Thinking about their family’s future, Lindsey suggested that they intentionally choose an hour that wouldn’t interfere with other activities down the road. They decided to commit to a holy hour every Wednesday evening. Troy’s first experience of adoration was a beautiful, though admittedly rare, encounter with the eucharistic Lord.

“I sat there in adoration the entire time, and it became a conversation. It was amazing,” Troy reflects. “After an hour, I felt like it had only been 15 minutes. And it’s not like that every week, but that first time strengthened us.”

Providentially, they shared this hour with a couple who introduced Troy to the Knights of Columbus. He joined, and it was there that he received a rosary that, in his words, “burned a hole in my pocket.” Although he knew about the devotion to the rosary, it wasn’t a devotion he was practicing regularly.

God had other plans, however, and Troy found himself called to commit to the devotion in a life-changing way. It started in the home.

During a sleepless night in their early years of marriage, Troy found himself talking to God to fall back asleep. He recalled how his wife would pray that their children would go to heaven. Upon asking for this, however, Troy heard a call to go deeper if he truly desired this for his children.

“I started pleading and begging with God, saying, ‘You can do anything. You can do this.’ I was actually crying, and my wife can attest that I don’t cry.”

Eventually, Troy heard a simple command: “Pray the rosary.”

Within seconds, he wiped his tears away and fell back asleep. Come morning, he talked this over with Lindsey. She unhesitatingly responded: “I guess we’re praying the rosary.” Troy agreed, and then she added, “Daily.”

While this hadn’t been his initial thought, Troy had no reason to do otherwise– especially if his children’s salvation was the matter at hand.

He chuckles when reminiscing on the events of that night. “It’s crazy that I just went back to sleep. I thought, ‘Oh, OK, good, glad you’ve got that taken care of, God.’ I realized later that I had something to do with this. That tends to be how God works in our lives—you pray about something, and it’s not an instant give or a ‘Hey, Dad, take care of that.’ Rather, He has something for you to do about it.”

Around 12 years later, the Kroening household has made reciting the rosary a daily morning ritual, sometimes accompanied by toast. They have also added a decade of the Living Rosary to their nightly prayers, giving each child an opportunity to express their gratitude and voice their petitions.

Their devotion to meditating on the mysteries of Jesus’ life through Mary’s eyes didn’t stop at home. Troy felt compelled to bring this practice into the workplace.

“I became passionate about the rosary and started praying it during my lunch breaks. Then I felt a calling to start a rosary group,” Troy explains. “At first, like Moses, I was hesitant, thinking ‘No, no, you’ve got the wrong person.’”

However, Troy continued to feel the Holy Spirit’s nudging and asked nine different co-workers if they would join him in praying over their lunch break. All but one agreed.

“I was amazed that instead of shooting me down, some people actually shared my request with others. Many of these people had never prayed the rosary before,” says Troy. “I wasn’t seeking out people who were already on fire about the rosary—I could see the Holy Spirit at work.”

Defending Their Domestic Church

Their commitment to communal prayer and other intentional choices they’ve made in raising their family show that Lindsey and Troy view their home as the “domestic church.” This term was first coined in one of the principal documents of Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, which states,

“From the wedlock of Christians there comes the family…thus perpetuating the people of God through the centuries. The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children.”

The Kroenings have taken this responsibility to heart. They ensure that Sundays are sacred and not filled with extracurricular events. They prioritize their children’s education through Columbus Catholic Schools, where Lindsey is a member of the Education Commission. Apart from Packers games, they limit TV time and encourage their children to swim against the cultural tide of social media. Family dinner is non-negotiable, even if it has to take place at 4:30 p.m. to accommodate practice pick-up.

Decisions like these have spoken volumes to their children about who and what their parents value above all else. The fruit of this is already evident in their teenagers, who clearly respect and love their family and Catholic faith.

“A ‘domestic church’ first, right? We’re not a perfect family,” says Lindsey. “We go to confession, and we try to get there a little more frequently.”

“As much as there are things that I’ve done and do outside the home,” begins Troy, “if I’m an absent father because I’m trying to save everybody else’s soul, I have more to answer for. If I don’t get my kids to heaven, then it doesn’t matter what I do outside my house.”

This commitment to building up the Body of Christ through their marriage and family life is undoubtedly a witness to their loved ones, friends and parish community as Troy and Lindsey strive to fight the good fight for their family.

Although he was raised as a cradle Catholic, he stopped practicing during college. “I didn’t feel like I had a reason to go. I had nothing against it; I never walked away to the point of turning my back on it,” explains Troy. “I just didn’t see the reason for returning—until I met her.”As much as there are things that I’ve done and do outside the home,” begins Troy, “if I’m an absent father because I’m trying to save everybody else’s soul, I have more to answer for. If I don’t get my kids to heaven, then it doesn’t matter what I do outside my house.”

Story by Alexis Wislinsky
Published in the July/August 2024 issue of Catholic Life Magazine

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