Vocation ‘full of coincidences’

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Sr. Kathy Lange

Sr. Kathy Lange, SCSC

Editor’s note: We are grateful to Holy Cross Sr. Kathy Lange for sharing her vocation story.

My vocation to the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross is full of coincidences and surprises that mark a spiritual journey. Only once as a child do I remember looking at my teachers, the Sisters of Mercy, and thinking, “Maybe I could do that someday.”

I am the oldest of three children born to Donald and Pauline Lange of Big Rapids, Michigan. I attended St. Mary’s Catholic School through the eighth grade. I graduated from Big Rapids High School and received a Bachelor of Science degree in business education from Ferris State College and a master’s degree in secondary education with concentration in business education from Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. During this time, I never gave any more thought to a religious vocation.

I completed a successful 25-year teaching career with Bellaire Public Schools, Bellaire, Michigan. During that time, I became active at St. Luke Catholic Church as a lector, Eucharistic minister and member of the Ladies’ Guild. In 1985, I attended the Diocese of Gaylord’s first Pastoral Assembly as a representative of St. Luke Parish. In 1994, I was a member of the first group to complete the Diocese of Gaylord’s three-year Institute for Ministry program.

Through my association with Sr. Celine Goessl, who had come to St. Luke Parish as a pastoral associate in the late 1980s and then later appointed pastoral administrator, I became interested in the Holy Cross Sisters.

Sr. Celine brought a breath of fresh air and changed my whole idea of what contemporary religious life was all about. It was not long before I became more involved in various liturgical ministries, the RCIA, adult faith formation, and eventually the group of Holy Cross Associates to whom Sr. Celine introduced me.

Through this group, I became acquainted with the charism of the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross. By coming with other associates to the provincial headquarters in Merrill for summer meetings, I met the other sisters and saw their charism in action. They represented many different ministries as they lived out the motto of the Swiss founder, Theodosius Florentini, OFM Cap: “The need of the times is the will of God.” Some of the sisters asked me when I was going to join them. I hadn’t thought any more was necessary, since I was already an associate. I was just “minding my own business” as a single person owning my own home and pursuing my teaching career. I think God must have had a good laugh.

By 1994, I took an early retirement from teaching and joined Sr. Celine at St. Luke’s as her pastoral associate. In working closely with Sr. Celine, things gradually evolved to the point where I knew it was time to make a more permanent commitment to the Holy Cross Sisters. My mother was deceased by this time, and my father gave his blessing. So, I entered the community in 1995.

In 1997, already 50 years old, I took my first vows. My greatest joy was becoming a permanent part of a community that values the gospel, simplicity, and love for all creation as exemplified by St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi.

I went on to earn a master’s degree in pastoral ministry from St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota. After taking final vows in 2003, I held the position of pastoral associate at Ss. Charles and Helena Catholic Church in Clio, Michigan; St. Clare Parish in Askeaton/Greenleaf/Wrightstown; and St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Green Bay.

I also served my community of Holy Cross Sisters as a member of the leadership team for three years. I began working with Sr. Celine in a new ministry of giving awareness talks on human sex trafficking when I retired from St. John’s in June 2017. Jesus sent his disciples out two by two, so I felt called to help Sr. Celine get the word out about this horrific crime. Together, we focus on staying up-to-date on what is going on in Wisconsin related to human trafficking and plan to continue to give presentations in Wisconsin and especially Door County until we feel called to return to community life in Merrill.

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