[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]DARBOY — As the Catholic Church celebrates the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops encourages Catholics to learn more about the corporal works of mercy and how we can live them in our daily lives. Rita Thiel is one step ahead of the game as she has been following the tenets of the corporal works of mercy for most of her life.
Thiel, who grew up in Appleton, is the 11th of 12 children in her family. She started babysitting when she was 9 because she loved kids. She went to school to be a nursing assistant and worked for many years at St. Elizabeth Hospital in orthopedics and pediatrics.
“I loved it. I wanted to treat people in the hospital how I would want my family treated,” she said. After she and her husband, Mark, had their sons, Aaron and Adam, she went into homecare, which gave her the time and flexibility to do volunteer work at her sons’ school.
When the family moved to Darboy, Thiel shifted her focus to schools in the Kimberly school district. In addition, because of her strong pro-life convictions, she spent many years volunteering for Mother and Unborn Baby Care and Womankind. She still helps with their annual fund-raiser, Bowl for Life, and this past year was the number one money raiser for that event.
Once her children got older, Thiel decided to focus her volunteer efforts on her parish. She now considers volunteering to be her full-time job. “I volunteer for church because I want to, not because I have to,” she noted. She is involved in the Pastoral Care Commission, which serves parishioners, particularly the elderly and homebound.
Parishioners welcome new members with cards; provide meals during difficult times; provide hospitality and receptions for anointing Masses; help with November All Souls Vespers; provide remembrances for the homebound each Valentine’s Day, Easter, summer and Christmas; arrange an annual retreat pilgrimage to a retreat center; help with care ministry training and renewal; and help with grief support.
“I visit parishioners in the hospitals, at their houses and at centers. We want them to know that we pray for them at every Mass and we’ll never forget them,” she said. As a member of the parish outreach committee, she visits the homebound.
“I bring them plants and cards and little gifts from the Holy Spirit. The best part is I get to be with them and talk with them. You won’t believe how that makes you feel. They want you to stay and they always look forward to you visiting,” noted Thiel.
In addition, she assists in lay ministry duties at Mass and helps with the parish’s Manna ministry, which collects food.
Continuing to support pro-life issues, Thiel participates in peaceful vigils at the Grand Chute abortion facility and volunteers at a local homeless shelter. “They have a set time for our church, but I’ve helped with other churches because they need help and I like doing it.”
Thiel and her husband help put up the Giving Tree during Advent at both the Darboy and the Kimberly church campuses and she has volunteered many years for Meals on Wheels.
“There are so many people who would like to (volunteer) but they can’t because they work or they have a lot of kids,” she said. “I was just lucky that my husband, ever since the kids were little, was OK that I did this and I didn’t have to work. I could have worked but then I couldn’t volunteer.”
Thiel noted that she wouldn’t be able to do everything she does if it wasn’t for all the other people who volunteer because they give her the inspiration to keep doing what she does.
One of Thiel’s favorite expressions is, “Smile a lot, it costs nothing and it’s beyond price.” Helping people not only brings a smile to their face but keeps her happy and smiling as well. “I love volunteering because I want to help people and I can. It just makes you feel so good to do things for people. I’ve always felt that way.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_message]Your Catholic Neighbor
Name: Rita Thiel
Parish: Holy Spirit, Darboy/Kimberly
Favorite saint: Peter
Words to live by: “Happy is he who trusts in the Lord.”[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row]