Editor’s note: This is second in a series on finalists for the Superior Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s 2020 Pax Christi Award.
Carol Krummel is “a servant leader who views her service as an honor and privilege.”
That description is included in the Pax Christi nomination dossier for Krummel, a Minocqua resident and parishioner at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Lac du Flambeau.
Even though Krummel admitted her involvement with the parish’s Council of Catholic Women is quite recent, she has been impressed with the group’s genuine interest in people. She also sees their hospitality and welcoming as an exemplary role that women can offer the church.
“Our role within the church is the role that Mary had in the life of Jesus,” Krummel said.
“We are real disciples,” she added, “not out to be in the forefront, but to take care of and welcome everybody. To help make the best they can of themselves.”
A wife of more than 40 years, mother, grandmother and retired occupational therapy assistant, Krummel values the complementarity of men’s and women’s differences and has a sense of transcendent faith that imbues daily life and activity.
She recalled an aunt who, after being widowed, became housekeeper for a priest in Minneapolis.
Krummel spoke about the time she asked her aunt during a holiday visit, with a child’s dismay, “Aunt Lena, how can you work for a priest?”
“It’s like working for God,” the aunt replied and told of the meals that needed to be cooked, the house cleaned – all duties that took on different meaning because of who she was serving.
Krummel remembers thinking that actually sounded exciting and very worthwhile.
Born and raised in Wausau, Krummel attended Catholic schools for all 13 years of elementary through high school. She actually helped to work off some high school tuition babysitting and working in the dietary department at the hospital.
After graduation, she entered a healthcare tech program in Madison, which later became an associate’s degree. With the education and training, Krummel worked for decades as a certified occupational therapy assistant.
She explained the goal of occupational therapy is assisting individuals to reach their highest level of function and independence in light of a disability or rehabilitation process. Occupational therapy can also be necessitated by psycho-social factors related to time management and behavioral approaches beyond the scope of physical limitations.
Krummel would help assess and enact therapy plans based on current activity and abilities, at times with adaptive equipment, to help the person achieve or return to functioning goals.
Speaking of her extensive work with children, Krummel was moved with emotion. Many had disabilities with which they were born – children who could have been victims of the broadened access to elective abortions.
“Many of the kids that I worked with wouldn’t have been born,” she said. “Abortion was done in those days, but not like it is today.”
She witnessed the value of their lives and the simple yet monumental steps – literally – they made towards independence. As a therapist, it was her job to put activities in front of the children to facilitate movement – often requiring her own hands stabilizing their balance just for them to achieve the four-point stance necessary for movement.
“It rips me apart,” Krummel expressed, “because when I hear about all this (current state of pro-life efforts), it really bothers me even in our own church that we’re not doing more.”
Krummel believes those children’s lives were worth her efforts then and are still worth the lingering pain in her arthritic hands.
“You knew God was working in that room,” she said. “And you knew that God was in that child, and you helped them all to do things.”
One of the other places Krummel strongly feels God’s presence is participating in the liturgy at Latin Masses.
“Something about the beauty in that tradition really takes me back to the roots of my faith, and I really feel the presence of Jesus there,” she said.
Krummel grew up in the 1950s and early-’60s and lived through the Vatican II liturgical changes. As an elementary school student, she was taught Gregorian chants and would sing with the children’s choir each Sunday for Mass.
In the years since she and her husband have permanently moved to their Lac du Flambeau home, Krummel has become somewhat active in attending the Latin Masses at St. Mary’s Oratory in Wausau.
She clarified she has “nothing against the Novus Ordo, but for where I am in my life and growing process,” it is where she is often drawn.
First attending low Masses, Krummel said she had tears in her eyes when the bells started ringing for the procession of the first high Mass she attended at St. Mary’s.
One of the biggest things she has been struck by is the “overwhelming” volume of young people.
“If I hadn’t had the exposure as a kid,” Krummel shared, “I’m not sure I’d have the guidance or curiosity to seek it out nowadays.”
Krummel, who has a devotion to Mary, described her family’s Marian prayer traditions.
“Before a road trip, all of us six kids would kneel before the statue of the Blessed Mother and my father would lead us in a rosary.
“Then every May and October we knelt and prayer,” in addition to decorating the “bathtub grotto” before their May procession and crowning. The statue and bathtub weather-shield is in the woods at Krummel’s Minocqua home.
“We were taught to pray to Mary because she is our mother. Look at your own family, your role hasn’t changed,” Krummel affirmed. “You stepped into Mary’s role, just at a different point in time.”