Ress uses his gifts in ministry and outreach

By Jeff Kurowski | The Compass | March 26, 2019

2019 Faith That Works award recipient

GREEN BAY — Kevin Ress was recognized at an Associated Bank town hall meeting as one of the company’s top five volunteers for hours served. He hopes that he’s not on this list next year, for a good reason.

Ress, a risk and control program manager for information security at Associated, will continue to serve in ministry for St. Norbert College Parish, De Pere, and in a number community outreach efforts, but plans to cut back on others.

“It’s all part of my strategy,” he said. “There are times when you need to reassess your prayer life and those priorities; back down and have a more faith-work life balance.”
The hope is that more time in prayer will help him definitively discern if becoming a deacon is the next step on his faith journey.

Kevin Ress balances his work in information security at Associated Bank with ministry and community service. He enjoys helping people become more involved and feel more comfortable in ministry roles at St. Norbert College Parish, De Pere. (Scott Eastman | For The Compass)

Ress grew up in Marshfield, where he attended Sacred Heart School and then Columbus High School. He continued his Catholic education at Marian University in Fond du Lac. Ress considered the priesthood during his college years. One of his spring break trips was to Villanova University in the Philadelphia suburbs to learn more about the Franciscans.

Following graduation from Marian with a degree in organizational communications, Ress accepted a position with Associated Bank. He will mark his 30-year anniversary with the company in May. He lived in Stevens Point before moving to De Pere in 2000.

Ress’ work in information security involves helping facilitate assessments and exams. He also provides overall reporting relating to security risks.

“There are constantly new incidents and new phishing schemes,” he explained. “Cyber attackers and fraudsters are relentless, so you constantly have to keep up on things. Our team serves as a conduit that puts together those materials to educate management, senior executives and the board about what we are facing in the cyber industry.”

Ress said that the “work hat/mask” he displays in the office causes his coworkers to sometimes be surprised when they see him outside the workplace.

“I’ve been told, ‘You can be a fun kind of person’ rather than being that stern work, work, work guy,” he said with a laugh. “I hope that I can be a good example. I would hope that people see that; the type of person I strive to be and the integrity I try to maintain.”

Ress, the father of three adult children, said that he eventually “migrated” to St. Norbert College Parish at Old St. Joseph Church when settling in De Pere. He serves as lead sacristan and leads the liturgy and worship committee at the parish, which involves training new ministers, filling ministry roles and overseeing procedures. Ress created a 29-page standard operating procedure manual, complete with photos, that outlines all ministry roles for Mass.

Much of Ress’ ministry and community outreach is shared with his wife, Nicole. They will celebrate 11 years of marriage in May.

“Nicole and I are the executive couple for Marriage Encounter,” he explained. “We are responsible for the overall (Green Bay) Marriage Encounter community. We have three Encounter weekends a year.

“Being a part of that team, you are encountering as a couple as much as what the other couples are,” he added. “You are experiencing the same things as those other couples. It just happens that, every so often, you may be sitting in the front of the room sharing your own story.”

The couple made their first Marriage Encounter in 2010. Ress credits Nicole for pursuing the weekend experience.

“I wanted to go because I was able to stay at the (St. Norbert) abbey,” he said with a laugh. “I thought that it was pretty cool to be able to stay there.”

They also serve as a FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study) couple for marriage preparation and as wedding hosts at Old St. Joseph Church.

“We help to make sure the day goes smoothly,” he said. “Being an active parish, you never know what’s going to happen. There may be a funeral in the morning and a 1 p.m. wedding and 4 p.m. wedding in the same day.

“A lot of time guest presiders will walk in and say, ‘Wow, this (church layout) is set up a little differently,’ so we assist them,” he added. “Some of the couples we know through FOCCUS, so, if the cards align and if they are having their ceremony at St. Joe’s, we try to get on the list for them. To see them on their wedding day is very special for us.”

The couple also partners as community volunteers. They served as leaders of the Brown County Fairest of the Fair program and annually organize an Easter egg hunt held on the Saturday before Palm Sunday.

“When the kids were young, we wanted to have an activity for them, so we had a bunch of eggs in the backyard for the kids and some of our friends,” explained Ress. “As they got older, we kept on doing it. This is fun for the entire neighborhood. It’s at a park and we are having conversations to have it at the abbey. We had 5,600 eggs last year and 60 to 70 kids ended up coming.”

Ress also leads Taizé prayer at Old St. Joseph Church and is a member of the Knights of Columbus Pennings Council. His service as a Knight includes volunteering at the annual Christmas tree sale. In his free time, Ress enjoys nature, yard work, playing percussion instruments and detailing automobiles. He uses his skills in the latter to help people in need.

Most years, around Memorial Day, Ress details the car of a Vietnam War veteran. He also auctioned off his vehicle detailing skills for the United Way campaign at Associated Bank.

“We recently had a parishioner who had a Mustang,” he explained. “He’s battling some health conditions, so I detailed his car for him. From a time commitment perspective, those are big investments. It’s a complete detailing, practically wheels off, shampooing carpets, detailing the engine. I probably spent about 17 hours on that vehicle. That thing shines nicely. I was happy to do it.”

Empowering others to serve is as rewarding to Ress as his hands-on ministry and outreach.

“We have some very involved, very active parish members of many ages,” he said. “I enjoy being able to provide that support and be that cheerleader for those people.”

To recognize those in business who promote the common good, The Compass invites leaders and parish leadership to nominate candidates for the fifth annual “Faith That Works” Awards. Click here to learn more. 

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