Renewal experience deepened honoree’s love for Christ

By Jeff Kurowski | The Compass | March 11, 2016

Compass honors 2016 Faith That Works recipients

KAUKAUNA — Mark Tetzlaff, vice president of Fox Valley Tool and Die, includes “God Bless” in the signature line of his email messages. Those two words in his closing have deep meaning to him. Tetzlaff is comfortable sharing his faith in all aspects of his life.

“I have a true love for Christ,” he said. “I believe in him. I have no fear telling people that. My faith life has made me a more complete person.”

Tetzlaff, a lifelong member of Holy Cross Parish, was not always as open about his faith. Five years ago, he participated in a Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) weekend, which proved to be life changing.

Mark Tetzlaff, vice president at Fox Valley Tool and Die, Kaukauna, credits Christ Renews His Parish for enhancing his faith journey. Tetzlaff is active at Holy Cross Church, Kaukauna, including co-chairing the parish’s recent capital campaign with his wife, Trisha. (Scott Eastman | For The Compass)
Mark Tetzlaff, vice president at Fox Valley Tool and Die, Kaukauna, credits Christ Renews His Parish for enhancing his faith journey. Tetzlaff is active at Holy Cross Church, Kaukauna, including co-chairing the parish’s recent capital campaign with his wife, Trisha. (Scott Eastman | For The Compass)

“I went to church every Sunday, believed in God and Christ and thought I was a good Catholic,” he explained. “CRHP was a turning point, a renewal for me.”

Tetzlaff compares CRHP, a parish renewal process for men and women, to the Gospels.

“The Gospels are really the same story told from a different perspective,” he said. “CRHP is very similar. It’s a group of individuals, who are at different stages in their life, have a course of different experiences. They have their own stories, doubts and reservations, but are similar in faith.”

Since his CRHP weekend, Tetzlaff has participated on teams, including serving as lay director. He remains friends with men from his initial team.

“Four or five of us are really close,” he said. “We lean on each other and look forward to seeing each other whenever we can. After Mass on Saturday or Sunday, we are connecting. Everybody is out the door and we are still there talking. It has given me relationships that I never would have imagined.”

Tetzlaff’s personal renewal has led to increased activity at Holy Cross Church. He recalls a conversation years ago with his wife, Trisha. They discussed their donations and support to numerous charities and thought that maybe they should just focus on the church.

“You better watch what you ask for,” he said with a laugh. “God may answer.”

Today, Mark is a member of the Holy Cross finance council, chair of buildings and grounds and, along with Trisha, chaired the capital campaign in support of church renovations. He has also served on the Oktoberfest committee, including chair in 2014, as Holy Cross pilgrimage route chair, pilgrimage meals co-coordinator and an adult leader for the Colorado Leadership Retreat.

The capital campaign is complete. Mark jokes that he missed out on some messages shared by Fr. Tom Pomeroy, pastor at Holy Cross.

“I haven’t heard a homily in the last six months because I keep looking at windows, ceilings and floors,” he said with a smile.

The pilgrimage is an annual walk from Holy Cross Church to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion.

“You sacrifice your time and your feet, but you get to build community with your fellow pilgrims,” said Mark. “Relationships created on that weekend are based on belief in Christ.

You learn something about your faith, how you are not the only one with the same interests or same doubts.”

Mark’s faith life has a positive impact in the workplace.

“I’m probably more compassionate and more objective,” he said. “I’m not as quick-tempered.”

Fox Valley Tool and Die will celebrate its 50-year anniversary in 2016. The manufacturing company that provides services including build-to-print machining, tool and die design and production stamping, was started by Mark’s father, John, and two partners.

“I grew up in the shop,” said Mark. “I took the first year off to learn to walk.”

His brother, Brian, serves as facilities manager, and sister, Lorie Deering, is the office manager. They enjoy working together and respect each other’s  talents, said Mark. John is retired, but maintains a presence when he is home in Kaukauna.

“He likes coming in,” said Mark. “He loves seeing change and development. He says that he’s in an advisory position now, but the only problem is that nobody asks him anything.”

Fox Valley Tool and Die employs nearly 200 and operates in two 65,000-foot locations.

“It’s very high-skilled work,” said Mark. “We give our employees a great deal of responsibility to make the right choices in producing our product. We are a very dynamic and diverse company for the products we make from the oil industry to lawn and garden to equipment to produce consumer goods, such as paper plates or diapers. We hire good people and let them use their skills to produce a product that meets our customer’s needs.”

Growth, which Mark describes as “controlled chaos” has created challenges.

“It’s a family-owned business, but it’s not as much family oriented as it used to be because of size,” said Mark. “The decisions I make or ownership makes affect a lot of families. That is always considered.

“My father created a foundation for every one of us in the business,” he added. “My goal with the company is to sustain that and try to make it better. Am I able to fill his shoes? I don’t think so; not at Fox Valley Tool and Die. My outlook, in the last five years, is my faith and work for the church gives me the opportunity to be my own person.”

Mark and Trisha are the parents of three daughters: Emily, 17; Eliana, 16; and Elizabeth, 12.

Emily and Eliana will be participating in the Colorado Leadership Retreat again this summer. They will hike for three days in the mountains, do a physical challenge and bring back a faith challenge.

“We have 45 to 50 kids who will be exposed to the word of Christ,” said Mark. “It gives them the opportunity to build their faith. I truly feel blessed. I have three daughters who are very strong in their faith.

“My parents (John and Barbara Tetzlaff) set my foundation and gave me the opportunity to be who I am,” he added. “I am very blessed to be where I am business-wise and in my personal life.”

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