Diocese's first lay, married parish director retires
Karin Posdal served for five years at linked parishes in Shiocton and Stephensville
By Joanne Flemming
Although Karin Posdal's title at St. Denis Parish in Shiocton
and St. Patrick Parish in Stephensville was parish director, she
found often during her five years in those communities that she was
mother to the people.
Posdal, the Green Bay Diocese's first non-religious and married parish director, retired from the two parishes on June 30. She is 65.
She said people would call her about baptism or marriage, then
tell her they had not been to church in several years. She would
invite them over. "I just opened the door and said, 'Come in.' I
think maybe that was the mother instinct in me."
She particularly remembered a Shiocton family that asked about a
funeral for their mother, who had been baptized at St. Denis, but
had been away from the church. After Posdal welcomed them, the
husband became a faithful parishioner. The son, with his family,
went through RCIA.
Posdal has served in various ministerial roles throughout her
life. She joined the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity at 16
and started teaching when she was 20. She taught "every grade" in
parochial schools for 37½ years.
During that time she left the Manitowoc community, married and
became the mother of a girl and a boy. She earned her bachelor's
degree, a master's degree in pastoral studies and a doctorate in
After leaving teaching, she spent two years setting up family
life programs at St. Bernadette Parish in Appleton. For the next
four years she was pastoral associate at the Chilton Area Catholic
Ministry's six parishes.
When Posdal became parish director, one of her first challenges
was living arrangements. While the diocese wanted her to be a
presence all the time at Shiocton and Stephensville, she and her
husband did not want to give up their home in Appleton, where they
planned to retire.
As a compromise, she lived five or six days a week in St. Denis'
rectory, going home to Appleton on her day off.
Parishioners at St. Denis and St. Patrick include farmers and
people who commuted to jobs in Appleton or Green Bay. Because of
their work schedules or travel, they were not likely to come to
nightly meetings, but they "were very hungry for spiritual
Her goal was helping them find their spirituality in family
life. She especially remembered a farmer who told her that he
prayed as he plowed. "That really struck me. That is what
spirituality is all about," she said.
Because the parishes are linked, she continued or started joint
programs. The parish councils met on the same night. She maintained
the marriage and baptism preparation programs.
Her first year she started the joint religious education
program; her second, joint spiritual life and worship committee;
her third year, joint social concerns committee, and last, joint
"As they worked together, they found they had resources they
could use together," she said.
Her day began about 5 a.m. and ended after meetings around 9:30
or 10 p.m. She attempted to keep specific office hours at each
parish, but that was not always practical. Instead, she went where
the need was.
Posdal retired to spend more time with her husband, who has some
health problems. She will continue to teach a course in integrated
spirituality for the diocese's commissioned ministry program.
Sacred Heart Parish in Oshkosh has asked her to help set up
She plans to pursue her hobbies -- reading, sewing and quilting
and gardening. She wants to learn to spin on the spinning wheel her
husband gave her when she got her doctorate.
Through her five years as a parish director, she said she
realized that she and other lay people in similar roles are
"pioneers in the church." Her advice to them is: "Be yourself. Have
a prayer life. Have a balanced life."