Pax Christi nominee keeps focus on God, others

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SDCCW Pax Christi finalist Katie Zenner, left, stands with Sharon Kelly, a resident of St. Croix Falls and member of Our Lady of the Lakes, Balsam Lake. Both women won silent auction items during the SDCCW's annual convention in June. (Submitted photo)
SDCCW Pax Christi finalist Katie Zenner, left, stands with Sharon Kelly, a resident of St. Croix Falls and member of Our Lady of the Lakes, Balsam Lake. Both women won silent auction items during the SDCCW’s annual convention in June. (Submitted photo)

Anita Draper
Catholic Herald staff
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Katie Zenner’s personal philosophy is simple and selfless.

“We are all given different gifts,” she said. “Our responsibility is to use them for good.”

A lifelong resident of Medford, the finalist for the Superior Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s 2016 Pax Christi award uses prayer, Bible study and retreats to remain centered in her faith.

Then, through mission trips, volunteerism and her work with the Wisconsin Early Autism Project, she shares her gifts with others.

Zenner has been married nearly 30 years to her husband, Tim, and the couple has two grown children. They are members of Holy Rosary, where, over the years, she has taken on various roles – catechist, parish council member, lay leader of prayer, education committee member.

Zenner, who works at Weather Shield, joined the Council of Catholic Women quite recently, although she has been interacting with the women’s group for years. She has traveled to Guatemala six times on mission trips, and the CCW sponsors a student, Mario, in the village.

She’s given the group progress reports on his education and attended CCW events with her mother.

“I felt privileged to represent our CCW with the child they sponsored,” she said. “We have some really good sponsored kids, but … (Mario’s) family was just phenomenal at welcoming us as family.”

Zenner is passionate about making connections with others, being an active and engaged Catholic and promoting diocesan opportunities.

“It’s just one more way to build Catholic connections across the diocese and learn from each other,” she said of joining the CCW.

She also admires the organization’s involvement at the national and international level, and she hopes more younger women will become active members.

“Somehow, the younger generation, we’re all so busy, but we need to take the time,” she added.

Zenner is also active at the community level. She’s in the Rotary Club, on the board of a pro-life resource center and involved with the food pantry and a local nursing home.
As a line therapist with the Wisconsin Early Autism Project, she visits the homes of children with autism and helps guide their development.

When she’s not working or volunteering, she likes to get away to the St. Anthony Spirituality Center, Marathon, or join a Koinonia retreat.

“I always like to make time for a retreat,” she said.

Zenner’s hobbies include hunting, camping, traveling and spending time at the lake with friends. She counts her international mission trips among her hobbies.

Surprised at and appreciative of being nominated for the Pax Christi, Zenner encourages other Catholics to be more engaged in their faith.

“There’s so many faith-filled opportunities in our diocese,” she said, listing a few options: Koinonia retreats, Lay Leaders of Prayer, Knights of Columbus, CCW, etc.
There’s more to our faith journey than Mass and prayer, she added.

“As Catholics, we need to continue to step outside of routine,” Zenner said.

The 2016 Pax Christi finalists and winner were honored Tuesday, June 14, at the SDCCW convention at St. Joseph, Hayward; Zenner found the event inspiring, particularly the native dance during the Mass.

“The way they prayed that was just beautiful,” she said.

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