Becoming and Raising Intentional Disciples

This article was posted on: July 8, 2024

Brian and Jean Kaiser trace the sign of the cross on their family.

Brian and Jean Kaiser trace the sign of the cross on their family

In a story about their faith, most people interviewed humbly share that they can’t see anything special or unique about themselves. However, every person, every couple and every family has a story to tell. Brian and Jean Kaiser of St. John the Baptist Parish in Marshfield, despite not viewing themselves as exceptional or of particular interest, possess a quiet, devoted faith that is full of incredible value and inspiration. A brief conversation with them makes this abundantly clear.

Brian and Jean were raised Catholic, and came from good Catholic families that practiced the Faith. “Our parents instilled in us good virtues like honesty and hard work,” says Jean. Brian says his grandparents went to Mass daily. “In the summer months, some of my siblings and I would often tag along (to Mass). I served as soon as I was old enough to be an altar boy.” After high school, Brian went on to attend UW-River Falls. After graduating, he met Jean through a mutual friend in Marshfield. They got married and started a family. Homeschooling their four children, Jean and Brian also wanted them to have a stronger, deeper faith than they did growing up, so they made a conscious effort to be intentional about their religious practices.

Charisms and a Deepening of Faith

As the Kaiser children grew in their faith, they developed their own desires and charisms to lead. “In 2006, when our oldest daughter Michele was in 8th grade, she started a local chapter of Armata Bianca ‘White Army’ for little children and then really pursued the idea of a eucharistic adoration hour for toddlers and families,” says Jean. Armata (army) refers to David’s battle with Goliath. According to the Armata Bianca Ecclesiastical Movement, “Every child consecrated to Mary who recites the rosary is a new David, and the beads are his sling. Bianca (white) is the color of innocence.”

St. Padre Pio inspired this international movement, based on the Marian apparition to the children of Fatima in 1917. He is quoted as saying, “Children shall save the world.” Praying the rosary before the Blessed Sacrament was essential to this mission.

In 2007, with the approval and blessings of then Bishop Jerome Listecki, Jean and a group of dedicated adoration committee members focused on spreading the word about the prayerful power of adoration to gather more adorers. It took five years of determined effort, but in 2012, the deanery-wide adoration became perpetual. That same year, adoration relocated from Sacred Heart Parish to a larger space in the administrative building of Our Lady of Peace Parish. With the approval and blessings from then Bishop William Patrick Callahan, the space was renamed St. John Paul II Adoration Chapel. This group is unique and outstanding because its adorers include the entire Marshfield Deanery and the surrounding county. “Joint adoration builds community,” says Brian. “Everyone comes together for adoration; all the communities work together but remain loyal to their respective parishes. It was not always this way with a sharing of resources,” he explains, “but through excellent pastors and pastoral leadership, the Marshfield Catholic community has grown to become a vision and prime example of strengthened faith as a whole.”

It is equally inspiring that all the Kaiser kids grew willingly in the spiritual charisms of their Catholic Faith. In their tween and teen years, each of them took on leadership roles within Catholic youth groups to encourage other young children and families to increase their faith, glorify God and become intentional disciples.

Michele, after graduating from the University of Minnesota, started working as a missionary with St. Paul Outreach. Later, she pursued a master’s degree in theology from the Augustine Institute. She is currently a full-time mother to four sons and attends daily Mass with them.

Lisa graduated from UW-Platteville with a business degree. Later, she earned a law degree and practiced immigration law. Currently, she is a full-time mom to two children. Despite her busy schedule, she dedicates an hour to adoration at St. John the Baptist Parish, where she brings her young children with her.

Jennifer lives in Milwaukee with her husband and two young children. She is currently working at her medical residency and devoutly maintains a 3 a.m. holy hour. The youngest of the Kaisers, Luke, earned a teaching degree from the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D., and also earned a master’s in administration while simultaneously teaching at a ranch for boys and girls. He is presently considering priesthood in the Journey Program at the Diocese of La Crosse and ensures that he spends an hour in adoration every day.

What’s Your Secret?

How did all of the Kaiser’s children remain so dedicated to the Faith into adulthood? “You do things together as a family, and you incorporate your faith with it,” says Jean. “I volunteered a lot wherever there was an opportunity to help my children.”

Brian suggests living your faith and teaching it to your kids. He believes that in order to do so, you need to equip them with the necessary tools to defend their beliefs. This requires preparation and explanation of alternative perspectives so that they know what arguments they will face. Brian says, “If your kids haven’t been given these tools or haven’t practiced the answers, it may be difficult for them to come up with a response on the spot. The opposition has likely prepared, and so your kids need to be prepared to have an answer in such situations.”

Brian shares that Luke didn’t get a cell phone until he was a senior in high school. “Was it a hassle for him?” says Brian. “Yes. Did we care? Yes, we cared, but as parents, we had an obligation to do what was in our child’s best interest. You protect your children until they’re ready to handle it.” 

One day, while listening to a radio program, Brian heard a story about a man who shared his own positive prayer habit with his son. Each night, the father would tell his son that he was proud to be his father. Inspired by this idea, Brian and Jean incorporated it into their own routine. They would trace the sign of the cross on each of their kids’ foreheads and say, “God bless you and keep you safe. I love you. I’m happy to have you as my daughter/son and proud to be your dad/mom.” “I believe this made a difference in my children’s lives,” says Brian.

Brian and Jean truly prioritized their faith and family life. They believe that God grants graces and blessings to those who glorify Him and obey His commands. However, these graces and blessings are not a guaranteed reward for good behavior, but they can be a direct result of missionary work and intentional discipleship. Jean has heard and witnessed many amazing testimonies from adorers, and believes Jesus is always available to those who seek Him. “He is the source of healing and prioritizing, and anyone can draw on His love, peace, and mercy to ask for whatever is on their mind or heart. We can pray for others or simply gaze at the magnificent Lord,” she shares. Brian and Jean feel blessed to have great priests and especially perpetual adoration, where their best friend waits for them.

Story by Marcy Stenstrom
Published in the July/August 2024 issue of Catholic Life Magazine

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